Biography of

Vasily Kalinnikov

13 jan 1-1866 (Voiny) - 11 jan 1901 (Yalta)
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Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov (Russian: Василий Сергеевич Калинников) (January 13 [O.S. January 1] 1866 – January 11, 1901 [O.S. December 29, 1900]) was a Russian composer of two symphonies, several additional orchestral works and numerous songs, all of them imbued with characteristics of folksong. His symphonies, particularly the First, were frequently performed in the early 20th century.

His younger brother Viktor Kalinnikov (1870-1927) was also a composer, mainly of choral music.



Kalinnikov was a policeman's son. He studied at the seminary at Oryol, becoming director of the choir there at fourteen. Later he went to the Moscow Conservatory but could not afford the tuition fees. On a scholarship he went to the Moscow Philharmonic Society School, where he received bassoon and composition lessons from Alexander Ilyinsky. He played bassoon, timpani and violin in theater orchestras and supplemented his income working as a music copyist.

In 1892, Tchaikovsky recommended Kalinnikov to be the director of the Maly Theater, and later that same year to the Moscow Italian Theater. However, due to his worsening tuberculosis, Kalinnikov had to resign from his theater appointments and move to the warmer southern clime of the Crimea. He lived there at Yalta for the rest of his life, and it was there that he wrote the main part of his music, including his two symphonies and the incidental music for Alexey Tolstoy's Tsar Boris. Exhausted, he died of tuberculosis on January 11, 1901 just before his 35th birthday.

Thanks to Sergei Rachmaninoff's help, Tchaikovsky's publisher Pyotr Jurgensen bought three Kalinnikov songs for 120 rubles, and later the Symphony No. 2 in A major. The Symphony No. 1 in G minor, which uses some cyclic principles, was performed in Berlin, Vienna and Moscow during his lifetime, but not published until after his death, so Jurgensen increased the fees he would have paid Kalinnikov, and paid them to his widow. He was also survived by a brother, Viktor, who composed choral music and taught at the Philharmonic School.

He is most well known for his First Symphony, written between 1894 and 1895, whose themes are characteristic of Russian music.

In Russia his First Symphony remains in the repertory, and his place in musical history there is secure (Spencer 2001). On November 7, 1943, Arturo Toscanini conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a rare broadcast performance of the First Symphony; although the performance was recorded, it was never commercially released by RCA Victor, but has recently appeared on Relief CR 1886 (anon. [n.d.]b, 15).


Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov


  • In 1812 (В 1812 году) (1899-1900), incomplete


  • Fugue in D minor (1889)
  • Nymphs (Нимфы), Symphonic Picture after Ivan Turgenev (1889)
  • Serenade for Strings (1891)
  • Suite (1891-1892)
  • Bylina (Былина), Overture (c. 1892)
  • Overture in D minor (1894)
  • Symphony No. 1 in G minor (1894-1895)
  • Symphony No. 2 in A major (1895-1897)
  • Intermezzo No. 1 in F minor (1896)
  • Intermezzo No. 2 in G major (1897)
  • The Ceder and the Palm (Кедр и пальма), Symphonic Picture after Heinrich Heine (1897-1898)
  • Tsar Boris (Царь Борис), Incidental Music after Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy (1899)


  • Moderato in E minor
  • Polonaise in B major (on a Theme from Symphony No. 1) for Piano 4-Hands
  • Scherzo in F major (1888-1889)
  • Chanson triste (Грустная песенка) in G minor (1892-1893)
  • Nocturne in F minor (1892-1893)
  • Élégie in B minor (1894)
  • Minuet in E major (1894)
  • Russian Intermezzo in F minor (1894)
  • Waltz in A major (1894)


  • Come to Me (Приди ко мне) for Soprano, Alto, Baritone and Piano
  • I Am Yours, My Darling for Voice and Piano
  • I Would Like to Make My Songs into Wonderful Flowers (Я желал бы своей песней) for Voice and Piano
  • On the Old Burial Mound (На старом кургане) for Voice and Piano (1887)
  • On Your Lovely Little Shoulder Dear (На чудное плечико милой / An Liebchens schneeweisse Schulter) for Voice and Piano (1887)
  • When Life Is Weighed Down with Suffering (Когда жизнь гнетут страданья и муки) for Voice and Piano (1887)
  • 16 Musical Letters (16 Музыкальных писем) for Voice and Piano (1892-1899)
  • Bright Stars (Звёзды ясные) for Voice and Piano (1894)
  • The Gentle Stars Shone Down on Us (Нам звёзды кроткие мерцали) for Voice and Piano (1894)
  • There Was an Old King (Был старый король) for Voice and Piano (1894)
  • A Present for 1 January 1900 for Voice and Piano (1899)
  • Bells (Колокола) for Voice and Piano (1900)
  • Prayer (Молитва) for Voice and Piano (1900)
  • Do Not Ask Why I Smile in Thought (Не спрашивай, зачем) for Voice and Piano (1901)


  • The Triumph of Lilliput for Chorus and Piano
  • Cherubic Hymn No. 1 (Херувимская песнь № 1) for Chorus (1885)
  • Cherubic Hymn No. 2 (Херувимская песнь № 2) for Chorus (1886)
  • The Mountain Tops (Горные вершины) for Chorus (1887)
  • Christe Eleison for Chorus (1889)
  • Lord, Our Lord for Chorus (1889)
  • Ioann Damaskin (Иоанн Дамаскин), Cantata for Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra (1890)
  • A Beautiful Girl Sits by the Sea (Над морем красавица дева сидит) for Female Chorus and Orchestra (1901)



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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Vasily Kalinnikov. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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