Taneyev, Sergey


Taneyev, Sergey

Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 30 (score and parts)


Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev

Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 30 (1911)

(b. Vladimir-na-Klyaz’me, 25 November 1856 – d. Dyud’kovo nr. Moscow, 19 June 1915)


Sergey Taneyev is one of those figures who haunt histories of music and are accorded universal musical authority for their prowess in theory, teaching, and composition, but whose music is virtually nonexistent, even to lovers of classical music. He is most often associated with the name of Peter Tchaikovsky, who became his composition teacher at Moscow Conservatory in 1869. Having studied piano simultaneously with Nikolai Langer and Nikolai Rubinstein and attained an outstanding proficiency, he gave the Moscow première of Tchaikovsky’s legendary First Piano Concerto (op. 23) under Rubinstein’s baton on 3 December 1875, shortly after Hans von Bülow had played its world première in Boston on 25 October during a world tour. At that time Taneyev had just graduated from the Conservatory with highest honors in composition and performance and had already formed a close friendship with his teacher Tchaikovsky, despite the sixteen years’ difference in their ages. That this quickly became a friendship among equals can be seen in the invariably frank criticism they gave of each other’s new works.

In 1878 Taneyev followed in his teacher’s footsteps by taking over Tchaikovsky’s harmony and orchestration classes at the Conservatory. He gradually added the piano and composition classes until, in 1885, he became the director of this renowned institution. At this time he was not even thirty years old. In between he made trips to Western Europe and several tours of Russia, including one with the violinist Leopold Auer, who would likewise become a sterling teacher. Unsurprisingly, these strenuous tasks took their toll on the young man’s strength. As he also suffered severe doubts about his abilities as a composer, his catalogue of works grew hesitantly at first, despite all the brilliance and the authority conferred upon him by Tchaikovsky or his final awards at the Conservatory (Taneyev was the first student to receive a gold medal in composition from Moscow Conservatory, whose teaching staff at that time could boast of artists of the stature of Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein). In 1889, despite universal accolades of success, he resigned as head of the Conservatory to devote more time to composition. His counterpoint class, which he retained in Moscow after 1889, became an elite training center or even a pilgrimage site for the leading Russian composers of the next generation, and a major counterpart to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s class at St. Petersburg Conservatory. Among his pupils were Alexander Skryabin, Sergey Rakhmaninov, Nikolai Medtner, Paul Juon, Sergey Lyapunov, and Reinhold Glière. Despite his aesthetic preferences, which were considered conservative by the standards of his day, Taneyev’s teaching was marked by a highly liberal spirit. Much like his contemporary Gabriel Fauré at the Paris Conservatoire, he was noted for his ability to respond to and promote the artistic personalities of his students rather than turning them into replicas of himself.


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Set Score & Parts


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