Miaskovsky, Nikolai


Miaskovsky, Nikolai

Sinfonietta in A major, Op. 10

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Nikolai Myaskovsky – Sinfonietta in A major, Op. 10

(b. Novo-Georgiyevsk [now Modlin], 20 April 1881 – d. Moscow, 8 August 1950)

Despite his music’s absence in the West, his contribution to Soviet music history is undeniable. Considered the “father of the Soviet symphony,” with 27 symphonies to his name across 41 years, the legacy of Myaskovsky’s work and benevolent stance towards divergent musical visions has cemented him as a pillar of Russian music’s development. While his symphonies and larger works impress for their wrestling between Socialist Realist fidelity and individual expression, his smaller works are just as beautiful, if not more so for their adoption of the bigger work’s clarity of thought. Such is his Sinfonietta in A major, composed during the early 1910s, but remaining unpublished until 1943. Originally being called by “Divertimento”, meaning a secular chamber work for instruments, his first Sinfonietta formed the basis upon which his second symphony would be written. The story of Myaskovsky the composer is a somber but not unfamiliar one. With a path echoing Richard Strauss’s musical life which led him to revert to his Romantic ways after his operatic blossoming with Elektra and Salome. Myaskovsky too was a real ‘people’s composer,’ writing music to be understood. He dreamed in symphonist terms and to know him, we have to do it like him.

Myaskovsky graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1911. Riding the wave of expanding notoriety thanks to his first symphony, which was awarded with a scholarship by Glazunov, and along with his 1910 first symphonic poem, Silence and a host of songs and piano works, the composer headed for a fruitful career. As a musician who had experienced the final days of Russia’s Romanov era all the way up to the final years of Stalinist Russia, Myaskovsky’s career was a genuine service to his country without ideological pretense. It was a selfless service without coercion, a desire to create a style which served as a conduit for his vision, but not at the expense of wider understanding. The beauty of the Myaskovskian musical worldview is found in his masterful articulations of what went unsaid with words but stated with music. The period from 1909 to 1914 reflects the conclusion of Myaskovsky’s pedagogical years at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under the compositional supervision of the “Belyayevites”, the lasting influences of his pre-conservatory mentor Ivan Kryzhanovsky, and the beginning of WWII. It marked the birth of Myaskovsky the composer. …


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