Koussevitsky, Serge


Koussevitsky, Serge

Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra (original version with harp)

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Serge Koussevitzky – Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra

(b. Vishny-Volotchok, July 26, 1874 – d. Boston, June 4, 1951)


Serge Alexandrovich Koussevitzky was known as a bassist, conductor, and as a patron of the arts. After a provincial childhood, playing a number of instruments, chiefly cello, he entered the Moscow Philharmonic Music School as a teenager (some sources say he was 14, others say 17). He chose the double bass because of the availability of a scholarship and the similarities of technique to the cello. He progressed quickly, joining the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra at the age of 20 and becoming principal seven years after that. His first performance as a soloist took place in 1898; his formal debut was in 1901, and his foreign debut in Berlin in 1903. Koussevitzky’s first marriage was to Nadezhda Galat, a ballerina in the Bolshoi; his second marriage, in 1905, to the wealthy tea heiress Natalie Ušhkov, made him one of the wealthiest instrumentalists in Russia. He resigned from the Bolshoi and, while continuing his career as a soloist, began studying conducting in Berlin with Nikisch in 1906, where his conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic took place two years later. Working as a conductor eventually displaced Koussevitzky’s solo bass appearances as his principal artistic activity. For many years he was known as a specialist in the music of Russia and of new music. During this period his primary musical activities were leading a concert series in Moscow and St. Petersburg; he also personally financed a concert tour along the Volga River in 1910. After the war he settled in Paris, where he led a summer concert series, the Concerts Koussevitzky. In 1924 he became Music Director of the Boston Symphony, a position he held for 25 years, retuning to Paris in the summers through 1929.

Koussevitzky was known as a philanthropist, leaving a legacy with three primary facets. As a publisher, he established the Éditions Russes de Musique (1909-1938), which was a lifeline for many emerging Russian composers. In 1942 he established the Koussevitsky Music Foundation, which commissioned many works, the best-known of which is the Bartók Concerto for Orchestra; the Foundation’s support for new composition continues to this day. His greatest legacy is the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood, the summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a leading summer school for musicians. …


Full preface / Komplettes Vorwort > HERE

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