Vasily Kalinnikov

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Vasily Kalinnikov Kalinnikov Vassili Postcard-1910.jpg
Vasily Kalinnikov

Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov (Russian : Васи́лий Серге́евич Кали́нников; 13 January 1866 [O.S. 1 January 1866] – 11 January 1901 [O.S. 29 December 1900]) was a Russian composer. His body of work consists 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 police official'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. [1]

In 1892, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky recommended Kalinnikov for the position of main conductor of the Maly Theatre, 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 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. [1] In Yalta he joined two other famous tubercular patients, Maxim Gorky and Anton Chekov. [2] Exhausted, he died of tuberculosis on 11 January 1901, just two days before his 35th birthday. He was survived by his widow[ citation needed ] and his brother, Viktor Kalinnikov, who composed choral music and taught at the Moscow Philharmonic Society School. [1]

Vasily Kalinnikov's reputation was established with his First Symphony, written between 1894 and 1895, which had great success when Vinogradsky conducted it at a Russian Musical Society concert in Kiev on 20 February 1897. Further performances swiftly followed, in Moscow, Vienna, Berlin, and Paris. [1] It was not published until after his death.

At Sergei Rachmaninoff's suggestion (following a visit to Kalinnikov in his illness), Tchaikovsky's publisher P. Jurgenson bought three Kalinnikov songs for 120 rubles. After Kalinnikov's death Jurgenson purchased the Symphony No. 2 in A major and other works from his widow for a high sum, commenting that his death "had multiplied the value of his works by ten". [3]

In Russia his First Symphony remains in the repertory, and his place in musical history is secure. [1] On 7 November 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 was released as a CD recording in 2006. [4]


Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov Vasily Kalinnikov.jpg
Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov

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