Alexander Glazunov

Tonight we will hear Le Chant du Menestrel, Op. 71, composed by Alexander Glazunov. A Russian composer, he was born in St. Petersburg 150 years ago in August of 1865.

Glazunov started studying piano at the age of 9 and started composing in his pre-teen years. When Glazunov was in his mid teens, his work was shown to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who took Glazunov on as a student. This and the support of wealthy timber merchant, Mitrofan Belyayev, started Glazunov on a path to international success.

In addition to his compositions, Glazunov spent many years at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In 1899 he became a professor there. He was appointed to Director in 1905 and held that position until 1928. Glazunov was a key figure in reorganizing the Conservatory into the Leningrad Conservatory following the revolution. Shostakovich was a student at the Conservatory during Glazunov’s tenure.

Like many Russian musicians, Glazunov went into exile in 1928. He toured the US and Europe and maintained that his reasons for not returning to Russia were health related. In this way, he maintained a good standing with the Russian government that other musicians did not. He eventually settled in France, married at the age of 64, and died at the age of 70, leaving a large body of great works to be enjoyed!

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