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Kalinnikov wrote several songs and some other vocal works. Many are lost and
none are regularly performed. He is best remembered for his orchestral works,
which include two symphonies.
The most popular is still his first symphony (1895), which received its first
performance in 1897. It was often performed in the following years, both in
Russia and abroad. Indeed, Alfred Bruneau praised above all other Russian works
performed in France in 1900, including works by Tchaikovsky,
Glazunov and The Five. In Kalinnikov’s second symphony (1897), the influence of
also noticeable, but this work lacks some of the freshness of his first
symphony, especially in the last movement. The same can be said about his
symphonic poem Kedr i pal’ma (The cedar and the palm), which was written next.
(Reaction of Julian Thake <email@example.com>:
I think you underrate "The Cedar and the Palm", which was my introduction to
the music of the seriously underrated Kalinnikov and is, for me, a beautifully
atmospheric piece. He is a poet more of harmony than of melody and this piece
is a fine exemplar of that.)
My main source, besides the usual handbooks, was the article by Grigor’yev. The
book by Kalinnikov’s pupil Paskhalov was not available to me. According to
Kiselyov, the 1951 edition is a new book compared with the 1938 edition,
containing new material.
A. Bruneau, La musique fran
(His birth and death dates in the old Russian calender are 25 and 24 January, respectively.)
Vasily Sergeyvich Kalinnikov (1866-1901) was born in Voina in the Oryol District. He studied at the seminary in Oryol and was in charge of the choir at the age of 14. In 1884 he moved to Moscow as a scholarship student at the Philharmonic Society School where he took bassoon and composition lessons from Alexander Il’yinsky. Kalinnikov made his living playing bassoon, violin and timpani in theater orchestras.
After a recommendation by Tchaikovsky in 1892, Kalinnikov was appointed conductor at the Malïy Theater and later the Moscow Italian Theater. In 1894 Kalinnikov wrote his 1st Symphony and between 1895-97 his 2nd. He wrote Incidental Music for Tsar Boris, a play by Alex Tolstoy that opened at the Maliy Theatre in Moscow on Feb 1 1899. In declining health Kalinnikov resigned his positions and moved to the warmth of the South Crimea later in 1899.
Towards the end of Kalinnikov’s life, he was assisted by Sergey Rachmaninov who arranged the sale of some of his songs and a piano arrangement of Kalinnikov’s 2nd symphony. Kalinnikov died in Yalta Jan 11, 1901.
(contribution by Willem Vijvers <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Kalinnikov was the first Russian composer to be known for his orchestral music
only (remember that Tchaikovsky
wrote most of his works for the theatre!). His first symphony, which has been
played by many eminent conductors, is still a popular work.
Kalinnikov came from a poor family and got only some violin lessons in his
youth. At the age of fourteen, he gained also experience as conductor of the
local school choir. In 1884 he went to Moscow to study at the conservatory, but
after a few months he could no longer afford the tuition fee. He eked out a
living by playing various instruments in theatre orchestras. Fortunately, he
attracted the attention of Semyon Nikolayevitch Kruglikov (1851-1910), a music
critic and teacher, whose significance for Russian musical life is not easily
overrated. Kruglikov taught him harmony and introduced him to other prominent
found him a place as conductor of the Maly theatre in 1892. Kalinnikov also
conducted the Moscow Italian theatre, but already the next year he had to
resign from all duties because of tuberculosis. To improve his health he went
to the Crimea, where he wrote most of his works. The succes of his first
symphony, and the recommendation of Sergey Rachmaninov,
brought him a contract from the publisher Jurgenson. Thus, his last years and
particularly the financial situation of his widow were brightened.