Sergei Taneyev

Sergei Taneyev , Russian composer and pedagogue , ( 1856 1915 ) . Studied with Nicolai Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky . Succeeded Tchaikovsky as Professor at Moscow Conservatoire . stock photo

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String Quartet No.5 in A Major, Op.13

 "Taneyev's Fifth  String Quartet which appeared in 1903 is written on a smaller scale than all but the Third and in some ways harks back to the classical era in its thematic simplicity. The main subject of the first movement, Allegro con spirito, shows the composer's fondness for syncopation, while the second theme has a definite Haydnesque quality to it. The second movement, Adagio espressivo, has a Beethovian quality both in its invention and mood and same could also be said of the Allegro molto which serves as a scherzo. A trio section is brighter in mood. The finale, a Presto, is upbeat and exciting. This Quartet is not as difficult to put together and does make the same demands on the players as Nos. 2, 4 and 6. As such it makes a good introduction to his later works."----Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.


Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) is one of the greatest Russian composers from the last half of the 19th and early 20th centuries and probably, from this group, the one whose music is the least known in the West. Taneyev came from an aristocratic family that patronized the arts and when Sergei's talent became apparent, his father sent him to the newly opened Moscow Conservatory at the age of 10. His main teachers there were Nicolai Rubinstein for piano and Tchaikovsky for composition. Although he became a brilliant pianist, Taneyev opted for a career as a composer and teacher and soon became a professor at the Conservatory.  His fame both as a teacher and as a composer quickly spread. Among his many students were Gliere, Rachmaninov, Gretchaninov, Scriabin and Medtner. In Russian concert halls, one always finds a bust of Taneyev alongside those of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Sadly, the fame of this outstanding composer has not spread beyond his homeland.


Influenced by Tchaikovsky, Taneyev preferred to write "pure" music rather than Russian-sounding or so-called "nationalistic" music based on Russian folk melodies. As such, he remained outside of the famous Nationalist School headed by Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and his music sounds markedly different from that of Rimsky and his famous students such as Borodin and Glazunov.


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