Ivan Wyschnegradsky

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Ivan Alexandrovich Wyschnegradsky (May 14 [ O.S. 2 May] 1893 September 29, 1979), also transliterated asVïshnegradsky, Wyshnegradsky, Wischnegradsky, Vishnegradsky, or Wishnegradsky (Russian: Ива́н Алекса́ндрович Вышнегра́дский) (since he emigrated to France, he used "Wyschnegradsky" as spelling for his surname) was a Russian composer primarily known for his microtonal compositions, including the quarter tone scale (24-tet: 50 cents). He also used scales of up to 72 divisions (mainly third (18-tet: 66.6 cents), sixth (36-tet: 33.3 cents), and twelfth tones (72-tet: 16.6 cents)). [1]

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. Twelve-tone equal temperament divides the octave into 12 semitones of 100 cents each. Typically, cents are used to express small intervals, or to compare the sizes of comparable intervals in different tuning systems, and in fact the interval of one cent is too small to be heard between successive notes.


Early life

Ivan Wyschnegradsky was born in Saint Petersburg on May 4, 1893. His father was a banker and his mother wrote poems. His grandfather was a celebrated mathematician who served as the Minister for Finance from 1888 to 1892. After his baccalaureate, Wyschnegradsky entered the School of Mathematics. He followed the courses of harmony, composition and orchestration (1911–1915) led by Nicolas Sokolov, professor with the Academy of Saint Petersburg. In 1912, he entered the School of Law.

Saint Petersburg Federal city in Northwestern, Russia

Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.

Harmony aspect of music

In music, harmony considers the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches, or chords.

Musical composition aesthetic ordering and disposing of musical information

Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.

Music career

The first public performance of Wyschnegradsky's Andante religioso and funebre was performed at the theatre Pavlovsk under the direction of Aslanov, in the presence of César Cui. At the end of the concert, Cui congratulated him "for his moderation".[ This quote needs a citation ]

César Cui Russian composer and army officer

César Antonovich Cui was a Russian composer and music critic, member of the Belyayev circle and The Five — a group of composers combined by the idea of creating a specifically Russian type of music. As an officer of the Imperial Russian Army he rose to the rank of Engineer-General, taught fortifications in Russian military academies and wrote a number of monographs on the subject.

In 1916, Wyschnegradsky composed The Day of the Brahma (which would later become The Day of Existence) for narrator, full orchestra and mixed chorus ad libitum. In 1917, the day before the revolution, Wyschnegradsky completed his law studies. In November, his father died. Ivan adhered to the ideals of the Russian Revolution and composed The Red Gospel, opus 8. In 1919, he elaborated on his first project on the notation of twelfth-tones.

Ad libitum is Latin for "at one's pleasure" or "as you desire"; it is often shortened to "ad lib" or "ad-lib". The roughly synonymous phrase a bene placito is less common but, in its Italian form a piacere, entered the musical lingua franca.

Russian Revolution 20th-century revolution leading to the downfall of the Russian monarchy

The Russian Revolution was a pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917 which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917. Alongside it arose grassroots community assemblies which contended for authority. In the second revolution that October, the Provisional Government was toppled and all power was given to the Soviets.

The following year, Wyschnegradsky and his family moved to Paris. The Pleyel house manufactured a pneumatic-transmission piano for him, but he was not entirely satisfied (1921). Wyschnegrasky wished to build a true quarter-tone piano and thought that he would only be able to in Germany. He ordered a Möllendorf-type quarter-tone harmonium from Straube. In 1922 and 1923, he went to several revivals in Germany where he met R. Stein, Alois Hába, J. Mager and W. Möllendorf. The following year, he married Hélène Benois and fathered a son, Dimitri (1924, now Dimitri Vichney, who later changed his name to Jacques Demêtre). Wyschnegradsky and Benois divorced in 1926.

Pump organ keyboard instrument sounded by vibration of metal reeds

The pump organ, reed organ, harmonium, or melodeon is a type of free-reed organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal in a frame. The piece of metal is called a reed.

Alois Hába Czech music educator and composer

Alois Hába was a Czech composer, music theorist and teacher. He belongs to the important discoverers in modern classical music, and major composers of microtonal music, especially using the quarter-tone scale, though he used others such as sixth-tones, fifth-tones, and twelfth-tones. From the other mictrotonal conceptions, he discussed a "three-quarter tone" system in his theoretical works but he used scales in this tuning in sections of some of his compositions. In his prolific career, Hába composed three operas, an enormous collection of chamber music including 16 string quartets, piano, organ and choral pieces, some orchestral works and songs. He also had special keyboard and woodwind instruments constructed that were capable of playing quarter-tone scales.

He ordered a quarter-tone piano from Foerster (1927). The Vandelle quartet performed the Prelude and Fugue, opus 15. In 1929, the piano made by Foerster arrived in Paris. He met Lucille Markov (Gayden), his future wife. He also published the Manual of Quarter-tone Harmony (1932). In 1934, he composed Twenty-four preludes in all the tones of the chromatic scale diatonicized with thirteen sounds, for two pianos in quarter tones (1934).

The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone above or below its adjacent pitches. As a result, in 12-tone equal temperament, the chromatic scale covers all 12 of the available pitches. Thus, there is only one chromatic scale.

On January 25, 1937, he attended the first concert devoted entirely to his music. He met Olivier Messiaen, and later Henri Dutilleux and Claude Ballif. He recorded the slow movement of the Symphony Thus spoke Zarathustra for four pianos in quarter tones.

In 1942, Wyschnegradsky was arrested by the Germans and transferred to Compiègne, where he remained for two months. His wife (of American nationality) was also arrested and transferred to Vittel.

On November 11, 1945, Gisèle Peyron and Mady Sauvageot, sopranos, Lili Fabrègue, viola, Yvette Grimaud, Yvonne Loriod, Pierre Boulez and Serge Nigg, pianos gave a concert of works of Wyschnegradsky. Contracting tuberculosis, he rested at the sanatorium of St. Martin-du-Tertre. In 1947, André Souris gave the première in Belgium of the Symphony Thus spoke Zarathustra for four pianos in Brussels. In 1951, Pierre Boulez, Yvette Grimaud, Claude Helffer and Ina Marika gave a performance of the Second symphonic fragment, opus 24 in Paris. The Revue Musicale published a special issue on Ivan Wyschnegradsky and Nicolas Obouhow.

In 1977, Martine Joste organized a concert at Radio France. In Canada, Bruce Mather did the same. In 1978, Alexandre Myrat, at the head of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, performed the Day of Existence. Ivan Wyschnegradsky was invited by the DAAD as composer-in-residence at Berlin. He could not go for reasons of health. Radio-France commissioned a String trio by him.

Wyschnegradsky died at the age of 86 in Paris on September 29, 1979.

Wyschnegradsky appears in Paul Auster's novel The Locked Room (1986), part of the New York Trilogy.





  1. "Ivan Wyschnegradsky Archived December 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine ", Voix Nouvelles [New Voices]. (in French)

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