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Biography of

Anatol Liadov

11 may 1855 (St. Petersburg) - 28 aug 1914 (Novgorod)
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Anatoly Lyadov

Anatoly Konstantinovich Lyadov or Liadov (Russian: Анато́лий Константи́нович Ля́дов), (May 11 (old style April 29) 1855 St Petersburg - August 28 (old style August 15) 1914, Polynovka, Borovichevsky uezd, Novgorod district) was a Russian composer, teacher and conductor.



Lyadov was born in St. Petersburg into a family of eminent Russian musicians. He was taught informally by his conductor father from 1860 to 1868, and then in 1870 entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study piano and violin. He soon gave up instrumental study to concentrate on counterpoint and fugue, although he remained a fine pianist. His natural musical talent was highly thought of by, among others, Modest Mussorgsky, and during the 1870s he became associated with the group of composers known as The Mighty Handful. He entered the composition classes of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but was expelled for absenteeism in 1876. In 1878 he was readmitted to these classes to help him complete his graduation composition.


He taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1878, his pupils including Sergei Prokofiev, Nikolai Myaskovsky, Mikhail Gnesin, Lazare Saminsky and Boris Asafiev. Consistent with his character, he was a variable, but at times brilliant instructor. Conductor Nikolai Malko, who studied harmony with him at the conservatory, wrote, "Lyadov's critical comments were always precise, clear, understandable, constructive, and brief.... And it was done indolently, without haste, sometimes seemingly disdainfully. He could suddenly stop in midword, take out a small scissors from his pocket and start doing something with his fingernail, while we all waited."[1]

Igor Stravinsky remarked that Lyadov was as strict with himself as he was with his pupils, writing with great precision and demanding fine attention to details. Prokofiev recalled that even the most innocent musical innovations drove the conservative Lyadov crazy. "Shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking in his soft woolen shoes without heels, he would say, 'I don't understand why you are studying with me. Go to Richard Strauss. go to Debussy.' This was said in a tone that meant 'Go to the devil!'"[2] Still, Lyadov told his acquaintances about Prokofiev. "I am obliged to teach him. He must form his technique, his style—first in piano music."[3] In 1905 he resigned briefly over the dismissal of Rimsky-Korsakov only to return when Rimsky-Korsakov was reinstated.

Glazunov, Belayev and Tchaikovsky

Portrait of M. P. Belyayev by Ilya Repin (1886)

Lyadov introduced timber millionaire and philanthropist Mitrofan Belyayev (M. P. Belaieff) to the music of the teenage Alexander Glazunov.[4] Interest in Glazunov's music quickly grew to Belayev's patronage of an entire group of Russian nationalist composers.[4] In 1884 he instituted the Russian Symphony Concerts and established an annual Glinka prize.[5] The following year he started his own publishing house in Leipzig. He published music by Glazunov, Lyadov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin at his own expense.[4][5] In addition, young composers appealed for Belayev's help.[5] Belayev asked Lyadov to serve with Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov on an advisory council to help select from these applicants.[5] The group of composers that formed eventually became known at the Belayev Circle.[4]

In November 1887, Lyadov met Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Nearly seven years earlier Tchaikovsky had given a negative opinion to the publisher Besel about a piano Arabesque Lyadov had written.[6] Even before this visit, though, Tchaikovsky's opinion of Lyadov may have been changing. He had honored Lyadov with a copy of the score of his Manfred Symphony. Now that he had actually met the man face-to-face, the younger composer became "dear Lyadov."[7] He became a frequent visitor to Lyadov and the rest of the Belayev Circle, beginning in the winter of 1890[8].

Later years

He married in 1884, acquiring through his marriage a country property in Polïnovka, Novgorod district, where he spent his summers composing unhurriedly, and where he died in 1914.


While Lyadov's technical facility was highly regarded by his contemporaries, his unreliability stood in the way of his advancement. His published compositions are relatively few in number through his natural indolence and a certain self-critical lack of confidence. Many of his works are variations on, or arrangements of pre-existing material (for example his Russian Folksongs, Op. 58). He did compose a large number of piano miniatures, of which his Musical Snuffbox of 1893 is perhaps most famous.

Like many of his contemporaries, Lyadov was drawn to intensely Russian subjects. Much of his music is programmatic; for example his tone poems Baba Yaga Op. 56, Kikimora Op. 63, The Enchanted Lake Op. 62. These short tone poems, probably his most popular works, exhibit an exceptional flair for orchestral tone color. In his later compositions he experimented with extended tonality, like his younger contemporary Alexander Scriabin.

It has been argued that Lyadov never completed a large-scale work. However, many of his miniatures have their place in the repertory. In 1905 Lyadov began work on a new ballet score, but when the work failed to progress, he shifted gears to work on an opera instead. Lyadov never finished the opera, but sections of the work found realization in the short tone poems Kikimora and The Enchanted Lake.

In 1909 Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Lyadov to orchestrate a number for the Chopin-based ballet Les Sylphides, and on 4 September that year wrote to the composer asking for a new ballet score for the 1910 season of his Ballets Russes;[9] however, despite the much-repeated story that Lyadov was slow to start composing the work which eventually became The Firebird (famously fulfilled by the then relatively inexperienced Igor Stravinsky), there is no evidence that Lyadov ever accepted the commission.[10]

Selected works

  • Biryulki, 14 pieces for piano, Op. 2
  • Six pieces for piano, Op. 3
  1. Prelude in D major
  2. Gigue in F major
  3. Fugue in G minor
  4. Mazurka in G major
  5. Mazurka in B major
  6. Mazurka in A minor
  • Piano pieces, Op. 4
  1. Arabesque in C-sharp minor
  2. Arabesque in A major
  3. Arabesque in B-flat major
  4. Arabesque in E major
  • Etude in A-flat major, Op. 5
  • Impromptu for piano, Op. 6
  • Two intermezzi for piano, Op. 7
  1. D major
  2. F major
  • Two intermezzi for piano, Op. 8
  1. B-flat major
  2. B-flat major
  • Two pieces for piano, Op. 9
  1. Valse in F-sharp minor
  2. Mazurka in A-flat major
  • Three Pieces for piano, Op. 10:
  1. Prelude in D-flat major
  2. Mazurka in C major
  3. Mazurka in D major
  • Three Pieces for piano Op. 11:
  1. Prelude In B minor
  2. Mazurka in the Dorian Mode
  3. Mazurka In F-sharp minor
  • Etude in E major, Op. 12
  • Preludes for piano, Op. 13:
  1. Prelude for piano in G major
  2. Prelude in B-flat
  3. Prelude in A major
  4. Prelude in F-sharp minor
  • Two Pieces for piano, Op. 15:
  1. Mazurka in A Major
  2. Mazurka in D minor
  • Scherzo in D major for orchestra, Op. 16: Allegretto - Vivace - Trio. Allegretto - Vivace - Poco Mosso
  • Village Scene by the Inn, mazurka for orchestra, Op. 19
  • Novelette in C major Op. 20
  • Of Olden Times, for piano, Op. 21a
  • Ballade, Op. 21b
  • Two Pieces for piano Op. 24:
  1. Prelude In E major
  2. Berceuse In G-flat major
  • Idylle, Op. 25
  • Little Waltz in G major Op. 26
  • Preludes for piano, Op. 27:
  1. Prelude in E-flat major
  2. Prelude in B major
  3. Prelude in G-flat major
  • Final scene from Schiller's Die Braut von Messina for solo voices, chorus and orchestra, Op. 28 (1878, published 1891). This was his graduation piece.
  • Kukolki (Marionettes) for piano in E-flat major, Op. 29
  • Bagatelle in D-flat major, Op. 30
  • Two Pieces for piano, Op. 31:
  1. 'Rustic' Mazurka in G major
  2. Prelude in D-flat major
  • Muzikalnaya tabakerka (A musical snuffbox), Op. 32 for piano (1893)
  • Pieces for piano, Op. 33:
  1. Prelude for piano in A-flat major on a Russian theme
  • Variations for piano on a theme by Glinka Op. 35
  • Three Preludes for piano Op. 36:
  1. In F-sharp major
  2. In B-flat major
  3. In G major
  • Etude for Piano in F major, Op. 37
  • Four Preludes for piano, Op. 39:
  1. Prelude in A-flat major
  2. Prelude in C minor
  3. Prelude in B major
  4. Prelude in F-sharp minor, Allegro impetuoso
  • Etude and 3 Preludes for Piano, Op. 40:
  1. Etude in C-sharp minor
  2. Prelude in C major, Allegretto
  3. Prelude in D minor
  4. Prelude in D-flat major, Allegro
  • Mazurka for piano in A major ("On Polish Themes"), Op. 42
  • Barcarolle for piano In F-sharp major Op. 44
  • Four Preludes for piano, Op. 46:
  1. Prelude in B-flat major
  2. Prelude in E minor
  3. Prelude in G major
  4. Prelude in G minor
  • Polonaise for orchestra in C major ("In Memory of Pushkin"), Op. 49
  • Variations on a Polish Folk Theme for piano in A-flat major, Op. 51
  • Three Bagatelles for piano, Op. 53
  1. G-sharp minor
  2. G major
  3. A-flat major
  • Polonaise for orchestra in D major, Op. 55
  • Baba Yaga for orchestra, Op. 56 (1905)
  • Three Pieces for piano, Op. 57:
  1. Prelude In D-flat major, Moderato
  2. Waltz In E major
  3. Mazurka In F minor
  • Eight Russian Folksongs for orchestra, Op. 58 (1906):
  1. Religious Chant. Moderato
  2. Christmas Carol 'Kolyada'. Allegretto
  3. Plaintive Song. Andante
  4. Humorous Song 'I Danced With The Gnat'./Allegretto
  5. Legend Of The Birds. Allegretto
  6. Cradle Song. Moderato
  7. Round Dance. Allegro
  8. Village Dance Song. Vivo
  • Ten arrangements from Obikhod, Op. 61
  1. Stichira for the Nativity of Christ
  2. Tropar - Rozdestvo tvoe, Christe bozhe nash
  3. -
  4. -
  5. -
  6. -
  7. -
  8. -
  9. Khvalite Gospoda s nebes
  10. -
  • Volshebnoye ozero (The Enchanted Lake), Op. 62 (1909)
  • Kikimora for orchestra, Op. 63 (1909)
  • Four Pieces for piano Op. 64:
  1. Grimace
  2. Gloom
  3. Temptation
  4. Reminiscences
  • Dance of the Amazon, Op. 65
  • From the Apocalypse, symphonic picture for orchestra, Op. 66 (1910-1912)
  • Nénie for orchestra, Op. 67


Sadie, Stanley (ed.) (1980). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London. ISBN 1-56159-174-2. 

  • Brown, David, Tchaikovsky: The Final Years, 1885-1893, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991). ISBN 0-393-03099-7.
  • Maes, Francis, tr. Arnold J. Pomerans and Erica Pomerans, A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of Ca.ilfornia Press, 2002). ISBN 0-520-21815-9.
  • Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai, Letoppis Moyey Muzykalnoy Zhizni (St. Petersburg, 1909), published in English as My Musical Life (New York: Knopf, 1925, 3rd ed. 1942). ISBN n/a.
  • Taruskin, Richard, Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). ISBN 0-19-816250-2.
  • Volkov, Solomon, tr. Antonina W. Bouis, St. Petersburg: A Cultural History (New York: The Free Press, 1995). ISBN 0-02-874052-1.


  1. ^ Malko, Nikolai, Vospominaniia [Reminiscences], 45.
  2. ^ Prokofiev, Sergei, Materialy [Materials], 138.
  3. ^ Quoted in Vospominaniia o B.V. Asaf'eve [Reminiscences of B.V. Asafyev] (Lenningrad, 1974), 82.
  4. ^ a b c d Volkov, 349.
  5. ^ a b c d Maes, 173.
  6. ^ Tchaikovsky, Pyotr, Polnoye sobraniye sochinery: literaturnïye proizvedeniya i perepiska [Complete Edition: literary works and correspondence] (Moscow, 1953-1981), vol. 9, 36. As quoted in Brown, Tchaikovsky: The Final Years, 91.
  7. ^ Brown, Tchaikovsky: The Final Years, 91.
  8. ^ Rimsky-Korsakov, 308 + 309 footnote.
  9. ^ Taruskin, pp.576-7
  10. ^ See Taruskin, p.577-8

External links

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