The Water Nymph op.63, for alto solo, women’s chorus, and piano or orchestra
Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein
The Water Nymph (Rusalka) op.63 (1861)
(b. 28 November [O.S. 16 November] 1829, Vykhvatintsy, Podolia, Russia
[now in the Transnistria borderland of Moldavia] –
d. 20 November [O.S. 8 November] 1894, Beverly Hills, California, USA)
for alto solo, women’s chorus, and piano or orchestra
Best known as the founder of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Anton Rubinstein was one of the great nineteenth-century keyboard virtuosos. The summit of his performing career was a series of seven consecutive “Historical Recitals” covering the history of piano music. He presented these throughout Eastern Europe and the United States as a “Steinway artist,” receiving as much as 200 dollars (in gold) per concert, plus all expenses. Each recital could feature as many as eight full piano sonatas, plus encores: they made powerful impressions on fellow pianists from Clara Schumann to the young Sergei Rachmaninoff. The first recital of each series included selections by Byrd, Bull, Couperin, Rameau, Scarlatti, and Bach: these contrapuntal and melodically-dominated pieces demanded a contrasting touch that Rubinstein became known for. In addition to virtuosity and an encyclopedic memory, he was praised for his tone, sensuous style of playing, and stamina: he gave a total of 215 American concerts in 239 days (some times as many as three per day), and invested the proceeds in real estate near Saint Petersburg.
Anton Rubinstein was born 150 kilometers northwest of Odessa, raised in the Russian Orthodox faith (his family converted from Judaism and was baptized when he was five), and educated in Moscow (1834-39) and Paris (1839-40) where he played for Chopin and Liszt. After a three-year concert tour of Europe and a shorter tour of Russia, Anton (age fourteen) and his brother Nikolai (age eight) played for Tsar Nicholas I and the Imperial family at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.
From 1844-1846, both Rubinstein brothers were based in Berlin, where they were encouraged by Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer. By age seventeen, Anton knew he could no longer pass for a child prodigy, so he (unsuccessfully) sought the support of Liszt in Vienna and struggled to make a living from teaching in Berlin. After returning Saint Petersburg due to the Revolution of 1848, he performed and composed frequently for the Imperial Court, receiving substantial support from the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, the Tsar’s sister-in-law.
From 1854-1858, he began his first extensive solo tours of Europe, contrasting his own compositions with concerto appearances and occasional presentation of new works by other Russian composers. While visiting with the Russian Imperial family during their 1856-1857 winter vacation in Nice, he and Elena Pavlovna discussed the state of music education in Russia, leading to the founding of the Russian Musical Society (1859) and the Saint Petersburg Conservatory (1862). Rubinstein served as the conservatory’s founding director until 1867, recruited talent for its faculty, ensured that instruction would take place in the Russian language, and revised the curriculum (1887-1891). He only resigned due to the imposition of racial quotas for new students and prizes. As a composition teacher, Rubinstein’s students included Tchaikovsky, Alexandr Rubets, Josef Hofmann, and Sandra Drouker: they reported frequent assignments in the setting of Russian poetry and single-movement forms such as minuet, rondo, and polonaise. Although Rubinstein was mainly known as a concert pianist, he also appeared as a conductor and discouraged his students from composing at the piano. …
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Choir/Voice & Orchestra
160 x 240 mm