The Rimsky-Korsakov St.Petersburg State Conservatory | Playbill
3, Teatralnaya sq.
The Rimsky-Korsakov St.Petersburg State Conservatory, the first public school of music in Russia was inaugurated on September, 20th, 1862. The foundation of the Conservatory crowned the efforts of a group of progressive-minded musicians of the XIX century. It boasts Anton Rubinstein, Henrick Wieniawski, Karl Schubert, Gavriil Lomakin as founding members.
By that time the distinctive features of Russian musical performance style had been developed by generations of Russian singers, pianists, conductors, string and wind players, who were competing successfully with their foreign colleagues in the Imperial and private opera companies, various ensembles, orchestras and choir. Musicians from Italy, Bohemia, and Germany would flock to Russia, and would, in most cases, settle there permanently. In the first half of the 19th century, St.Petersburg, on a par with Vienna, Paris, Prague, London and Berlin, began to attract the world-famous artists. Thus it was here that the first performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis was given in 1824, and subsequently a second performance of his Ninth Symphony was heard. Among the renowned guest performers who visited St.Petersburg were Liszt, Berlioz, Schumann and Wagner, to name but a few. It was from here that Beethoven received a commission to write string quarters and Verdi was commissioned to compose opera. Finally, it was in St.Petersburg that a remarkable school of composition arose which was to shape and develop, in the works of the great Russian national composers Dmitry Bortnyansky, Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Mikhail Glinka and their contemporaries, the distinguishing features of the style and idiom of Russian music. In the middle of the 19th century, in an atmosphere of social, cultural and political ferment and reforms, the new Imperial Music Society was founded which launched an extensive programme. One of the most important projects undertaken by the Society, which was active throughout Russia, was organization of conservatories in the country.
Russia's first Conservatory was opened in St.Petersburg in 1862 and was headed by the outstanding pianist, composer and conductor Anton Rubinstein. The initial staff members were Henryk Wieniawski (violin), Theodor Leszetycki (piano), Anton Rubinstein (piano), Nikoly Zaremba (composition), Karl Schubert (cello), Gavril Lomakin (choral singing), and others. Although it had taken some time to get all the teaching staff vacancies filled and to perfect educations programmes, in 1865 the Conservatory gave the world the genius alumnus -- Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The period between 1870-1890 saw the ascendancy of the Conservatory when, with the advent of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (he joined the staff as a professor) and his disciples, exponents of the New Russian school of composition -- Anatoly Lyadov and Alexander Glazunov, the aesthetic ideals were finally formulated and realized in the Conservatory's educational programmes, thus forming the solid basis for the new generations of musicians. Homage to the genius of Rimsky-Korsakov was paid in 1944 when his centenary was marked and the Conservatory was named after him. The present building of the Conservatory dates back to the 1890s when the old theatre (called the Bolshoi) was pulled down to give place to a purposebuilt Conservatory.
Another important period in the development of the Conservatory lay between the years 1905-1928, when it was headed by Glazunov. Having come into the office in 1905, this distinguished musician and remarkable man remained the heart and soul of the Conservatory, its professional and moral symbol for nearly a quarter of a century.
The illustrious musicians, who were members of the professorial staff then, were Leopold Auer (violin); Nikolay Tcherepnin (conducting); Anatoly Lyadov, Alexander Glazunov and Maximilian Steinberg (composition); Anna Yessipova, Sergey Lyapunov and Leonid Nikolayev (piano). Many of their pupils won world acclaim. The legendary alumni are the composers Nikolay Myaskovsky, Sergey Prokofiev, Dmitry Shostakovich; violinist Jascha Heifetz, Miron Polyakin, Efrem Zimbalist, Yuri Eidlin; pianists Samary Savshinsky, Nadezhda Golubovskaya, Vladimir Sofronitsky; conductors Nikolay Malko, Mikhail Klimov. All of them made an outstanding contribution to the world musical culture.
The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 led to a break in the continuity of musical development; many composers and musicians emigrated. Those who stayed in Russia were in for another ordeal during World War II, when some professors and students were suffering in besieged Leningrad while others were evacuated to Central Asia. In 1938-1977, with some short intermissions, the Conservatory was headed by Pavel Serebryakov, a brilliant Soviet pianist. The Conservatory saw a revival of the fame of old traditions. In the 1950s, for instance, the violinists Mikhail Vaiman and Boris Gutnikov won several international competitions. In the 1950s - 1960s, graduates of the Conservatory included the world-famous singers Yelena Obraztsova, Yevgeny Nesterenko, Vladimir Atlantov and celebrated conductors, Vladislav Chernushenko, Dmitry Kitayenko, Yuri Temirkanov, Alexander Dmitriev, Maris Yansons. In the 1970s, educated at the Conservatory were the pianist Grigory Sokolov and Pavel Yegorov, the conductor Valery Gergiev, and many others who now represent the Russian performing art. The end of the period was marked by great achievements at major competitions both in this country and abroad. The winners of national and international prizes have been taught by professors now active at the Conservatory, viz. Tatyana Kravchenko (piano), Viktor Sumerkin (trombone), Gleb Nikitin (flute), Anatoly Nikitin (cello). From 1979, Rector of the St.Petersburg Conservatory is Vladislav Chernushenko, one of the celebrated conductors, who is also Artistic Director of Russia's oldest musical institution, the St.Petersburg Academic Capella (the former Imperial Court Capella).
Loyal to the traditions of its founders and numerous generations of progressive musicians of the home-land, the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory in St.Petersburg is striving to lofty professional ideals and active propaganda of the world musical culture.
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