Georgy Catoire

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Poem for Violin and Piano, Op.20

Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano

Georgy Catoire's Second Violin Sonata was composed two years after his first and dates from 1906. It was dedicated to Alexander Goldenweisser a professor of piano at the Moscow Conservatory, who was an influential promoter of Catoire's music.


Catoire (1861-1926) is generally considered the father of Russian modernism. He was born in Moscow to a French noble family which had emigrated to Russia in the early 19th century. Although fascinated by music, he studied mathematics and science at the University of Moscow, graduating in 1884. After graduation, however, he decided to devote himself to music. His early compositions showed the influence of Tchaikovsky who described Catoire as talented but in need of serious training. Eventually Catoire was to study composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov, Arensky and Taneyev. In 1916, he was appointed Professor of Composition at the Moscow Conservatory, a position he held for the rest of his life. Catoire wrote several treatises on music theory, which became the foundation for the teaching of music theory in Russia. His composition style was a synthesis Russian, German and French influences--Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Cesar Franck, Debussy and Richard Wagner were the chief influences. From them, Catoire developed a highly personal and original idiom. His championing of Wagner is partially responsible for the fact that his works are relatively unknown today. Rimsky-Korsakov's circle disliked Wagner's music intensely and did little to promote it. This resulted in its being barely known in Russia. They also shunned Catoire’s music because he was a Wagnerite.


Like the first sonata, the Poem is highly individualistic. Although it is written in one large movement, fully the length of a regular sonata, there are four subsections which are all closely related to each other. The main feature of this work is its lyricism. It is perhaps the most lyrical of Catoire's chamber works and for much of its duration is truly rhapsodic.


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