Glazunov created a world of happiness, fun, peace, flight, rapture, thoughtfulness and much, much more, always happy, always clear and deep, always unusually noble, winged … A. Lunacharsky
A colleague of the composers of The Mighty Handful, a friend of A. Borodin, who completed his unfinished compositions from memory, and a teacher who supported the young D. Shostakovich in the years of post-revolutionary devastation … The fate of A. Glazunov visibly embodied the continuity of Russian and Soviet music. Strong mental health, restrained inner strength and unchanging nobility – these personality traits of the composer attracted like-minded musicians, listeners, and numerous students to him. Formed back in his youth, they determined the basic structure of his work.
Glazunov’s musical development was rapid. Born into the family of a famous book publisher, the future composer was brought up from childhood in an atmosphere of enthusiastic music-making, impressing his relatives with his extraordinary abilities – the finest ear for music and the ability to instantly memorize in detail the music he once heard. Glazunov later recalled: “We played a lot in our house, and I firmly remembered all the plays that were performed. Often at night, waking up, I mentally restored to the smallest detail what I had heard before … ”The boy’s first teachers were pianists N. Kholodkova and E. Elenkovsky. A decisive role in the formation of the musician was played by classes with the largest composers of the St. Petersburg school – M. Balakirev and N. Rimsky-Korsakov. Communication with them helped Glazunov surprisingly quickly reach creative maturity and soon grew into a friendship of like-minded people.
The path of the young composer to the listener began with a triumph. The first symphony of the sixteen-year-old author (premiered in 1882) evoked enthusiastic responses from the public and the press, and was highly appreciated by his colleagues. In the same year, a meeting took place that largely influenced the fate of Glazunov. At the rehearsal of the First Symphony, the young musician met M. Belyaev, a sincere connoisseur of music, a major timber merchant and philanthropist, who did a lot to support Russian composers. From that moment on, the paths of Glazunov and Belyaev constantly crossed. Soon the young musician became a regular on Belyaev’s Fridays. These weekly musical evenings attracted in the 80s and 90s. the best forces of Russian music. Together with Belyaev, Glazunov made a long trip abroad, got acquainted with the cultural centers of Germany, Switzerland, France, recorded folk tunes in Spain and Morocco (1884). During this trip, a memorable event took place: Glazunov visited F. Liszt in Weimar. In the same place, at the festival dedicated to the work of Liszt, the First Symphony of the Russian author was successfully performed.
For many years Glazunov was associated with Belyaev’s favorite brainchildren – a music publishing house and Russian symphony concerts. After the death of the company’s founder (1904), Glazunov, together with Rimsky-Korsakov and A. Lyadov, became a member of the Board of Trustees for the encouragement of Russian composers and musicians, created under the will and at the expense of Belyaev. In the musical and public field, Glazunov had great authority. The respect of colleagues for his skill and experience was based on a solid foundation: the musician’s integrity, thoroughness and crystal honesty. The composer evaluated his work with particular exactingness, often experiencing painful doubts. These qualities gave strength for selfless work on the compositions of a deceased friend: Borodin’s music, which had already been performed by the author, but was not recorded due to his sudden death, was saved thanks to Glazunov’s phenomenal memory. Thus, the opera Prince Igor was completed (together with Rimsky-Korsakov), the 2nd part of the Third Symphony was restored from memory and orchestrated.
In 1899, Glazunov became a professor, and in December 1905, the head of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the oldest in Russia. Glazunov’s election as director was preceded by a period of trials. Numerous student meetings put forward a demand for the autonomy of the conservatory from the Imperial Russian Musical Society. In this situation, which split the teachers into two camps, Glazunov clearly defined his position, supporting the students. In March 1905, when Rimsky-Korsakov was accused of inciting students to rebellion and dismissed, Glazunov, together with Lyadov, resigned as professors. A few days later, Glazunov conducted Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchei the Immortal, staged by the Conservatory students. The performance, full of topical political associations, ended with a spontaneous rally. Glazunov recalled: “I then risked being evicted from St. Petersburg, but nevertheless I agreed to this.” As a response to the revolutionary events of 1905, an adaptation of the song “Hey, let’s go!” appeared. for choir and orchestra. Only after the conservatory was granted autonomy did Glazunov return to teaching. Once again becoming the director, he delved into all the details of the educational process with his usual thoroughness. And although the composer complained in letters: “I am so overloaded with conservatory work that I don’t have time to think about anything, as soon as about the worries of the present day,” communication with students became an urgent need for him. Young people were also drawn to Glazunov, feeling in him a true master and teacher.
Gradually, educational, educational tasks became the main ones for Glazunov, pushing the composer’s ideas. His pedagogical and social-musical work developed especially widely during the years of the revolution and the civil war. The master was interested in everything: competitions for amateur artists, and conductor performances, and communication with students, and ensuring the normal life of professors and students in conditions of devastation. Glazunov’s activities received universal recognition: in 1921 he was awarded the title of People’s Artist.
Communication with the conservatory was not interrupted until the end of the master’s life. The last years (1928-36) the aging composer spent abroad. Illness haunted him, tours tired him. But Glazunov invariably returned his thoughts to the Motherland, to his comrades-in-arms, to conservative affairs. He wrote to colleagues and friends: “I miss you all.” Glazunov died in Paris. In 1972, his ashes were transported to Leningrad and buried in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
Glazunov’s path in music covers about half a century. It had ups and downs. Away from his homeland, Glazunov composed almost nothing, with the exception of two instrumental concertos (for saxophone and cello) and two quartets. The main rise of his work falls on the 80-90s. 1900th century and early 5s. Despite periods of creative crises, a growing number of musical, social and pedagogical affairs, during these years Glazunov created many large-scale symphonic works (poems, overtures, fantasies), including “Stenka Razin”, “Forest”, “Sea”, “Kremlin ”, a symphonic suite “From the Middle Ages”. At the same time, most of the string quartets (2 out of seven) and other ensemble works appeared. There are also instrumental concertos in Glazunov’s creative heritage (in addition to those mentioned – XNUMX piano concertos and a particularly popular violin concerto), romances, choirs, cantatas. However, the main achievements of the composer are connected with symphonic music.
None of the domestic composers of the late XIX – early XX century. did not pay as much attention to the symphony genre as Glazunov: his 8 symphonies form a grandiose cycle, towering among the works of other genres like a massive mountain range against the backdrop of hills. Developing the classical interpretation of the symphony as a multi-part cycle, giving a generalized picture of the world by means of instrumental music, Glazunov was able to realize his generous melodic gift, impeccable logic in the construction of complex multifaceted musical structures. The figurative dissimilarity of Glazunov’s symphonies among themselves only emphasizes their inner unity, rooted in the composer’s persistent desire to unite 2 branches of Russian symphonism that existed in parallel: lyrical-dramatic (P. Tchaikovsky) and pictorial-epic (composers of The Mighty Handful). As a result of the synthesis of these traditions, a new phenomenon arises – Glazunov’s lyrical-epic symphonism, which attracts the listener with its bright sincerity and heroic strength. Melodious lyrical outpourings, dramatic pressures and juicy genre scenes in the symphonies are mutually balanced, preserving the overall optimistic flavor of the music. “There is no discord in Glazunov’s music. She is a balanced embodiment of vital moods and sensations reflected in sound…” (B. Asafiev). In Glazunov’s symphonies, one is struck by the harmony and clarity of architectonics, the inexhaustible inventiveness in working with thematics, and the generous variety of the orchestral palette.
Glazunov’s ballets can also be called extended symphonic paintings, in which the coherence of the plot recedes into the background before the tasks of a vivid musical characterization. The most famous of them is “Raymonda” (1897). The composer’s fantasy, who has long been fascinated by the brilliance of chivalric legends, gave rise to the multicolored elegant paintings – a festival in a medieval castle, temperamental Spanish-Arabic and Hungarian dances … The musical embodiment of the idea is extremely monumental and colorful. Particularly attractive are the mass scenes, in which signs of national color are subtly conveyed. “Raymonda” found a long life both in the theater (starting from the first production by the famous choreographer M. Petipa), and on the concert stage (in the form of a suite). The secret of its popularity lies in the noble beauty of the melodies, in the exact correspondence of the musical rhythm and orchestral sound to the plasticity of the dance.
In the following ballets, Glazunov follows the path of compressing the performance. This is how The Young Maid, or the Trial of Damis (1898) and The Four Seasons (1898) appeared – one-act ballets also created in collaboration with Petipa. The plot is insignificant. The first is an elegant pastoral in the spirit of Watteau (a French painter of the XNUMXth century), the second is an allegory about the eternity of nature, embodied in four musical and choreographic paintings: “Winter”, “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn”. The desire for brevity and the emphasized decorativeness of Glazunov’s one-act ballets, the author’s appeal to the era of the XNUMXth century, colored with a touch of irony – all this makes one recall the hobbies of the artists of the World of Art.
The consonance of time, a sense of historical perspective is inherent in Glazunov in all genres. The logical accuracy and rationality of the construction, the active use of polyphony – without these qualities it is impossible to imagine the appearance of Glazunov the symphonist. The same features in different stylistic variants became the most important features of the music of the XNUMXth century. And although Glazunov remained in line with classical traditions, many of his finds gradually prepared the artistic discoveries of the XNUMXth century. V. Stasov called Glazunov “Russian Samson”. Indeed, only a bogatyr can establish the inextricable link between Russian classics and emerging Soviet music, as Glazunov did.
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865–1936), a student and faithful colleague of N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, occupies an outstanding place among the representatives of the “new Russian musical school” and as a major composer, in whose work the richness and brightness of colors are combined with the highest, most perfect skill, and as a progressive musical and public figure who firmly defended the interests of Russian art. Unusually early attracted the attention of the First Symphony (1882), surprising for such a young age in its clarity and completeness, by the age of thirty he was gaining wide fame and recognition as the author of five wonderful symphonies, four quartets and many other works, marked by richness of conception and maturity. its implementation.
Having drawn the attention of the generous philanthropist M. P. Belyaev, the aspiring composer soon became an invariable participant, and then one of the leaders of all his musical, educational and propaganda undertakings, to a large extent directing the activities of Russian symphony concerts, in which he himself often acted as conductor, as well as the Belyaev publishing house, expressing their weighty opinion in the matter of awarding the Glinkin Prizes to Russian composers. Glazunov’s teacher and mentor, Rimsky-Korsakov, more often than others, attracted him to help him in carrying out work related to perpetuating the memory of great compatriots, putting in order and publishing their creative heritage. After the sudden death of A.P. Borodin, the two of them worked hard to complete the unfinished opera Prince Igor, thanks to which this brilliant creation was able to see the light of day and find stage life. In the 900s, Rimsky-Korsakov, together with Glazunov, prepared a new critically checked edition of Glinka’s symphonic scores, A Life for the Tsar and Prince Kholmsky, which still retains its significance. Since 1899, Glazunov was a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and in 1905 he was unanimously elected its director, remaining in this post for more than twenty years.
After the death of Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov became the recognized heir and continuer of the traditions of his great teacher, taking his place in the Petersburg musical life. His personal and artistic authority was indisputable. In 1915, in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of Glazunov, V. G. Karatygin wrote: “Who among the living Russian composers is most popular? Whose first-class craftsmanship is beyond the slightest doubt? About which of our contemporaries have long ceased to argue, indisputably recognizing for his art the seriousness of the artistic content and the highest school of musical technology? The name alone can be in the mind of the one who raises such a question and on the lips of the one who wants to answer it. This name is A. K. Glazunov.
At that time of the most acute disputes and the struggle of various currents, when not only the new, but also much, it would seem, long ago assimilated, firmly entered into consciousness, caused very contradictory judgments and assessments, such “indisputability” seemed unusual and even exceptional. It testified to a high respect for the personality of the composer, his excellent skill and impeccable taste, but at the same time, a certain neutrality of attitude towards his work as something already irrelevant, standing not so much “above the fights”, but “away from the fights” . Glazunov’s music did not captivate, did not arouse enthusiastic love and worship, but it did not contain features that were sharply unacceptable to any of the contending parties. Thanks to the wise clarity, harmony and balance with which the composer managed to fuse together various, sometimes opposing tendencies, his work could reconcile “traditionalists” and “innovators”.
A few years before the appearance of the cited article by Karatygin, another well-known critic A. V. Ossovsky, in an effort to determine the historical place of Glazunov in Russian music, attributed him to the type of artists-“finishers”, in contrast to the “revolutionaries” in art, discoverers of new paths: “Mind “revolutionaries” are destroyed by obsolete art with a corrosive sharpness of analysis, but at the same time, in their souls, there is an innumerable supply of creative forces for the embodiment of new ideas, for the creation of new artistic forms, which they foresee, as it were, in the mysterious outlines of the predawn dawn <...> But there are other times in art – transitional epochs, in contrast to those first ones that could be defined as decisive epochs. Artists, whose historical destiny lies in the synthesis of ideas and forms created in the era of revolutionary explosions, I call the aforementioned name of finalizers.
The duality of Glazunov’s historical position as an artist of the transition period was determined, on the one hand, by his close connection with the general system of views, aesthetic ideas and norms of the previous era, and on the other hand, by the maturation in his work of some new trends that fully developed already at a later time. He began his activity at a time when the “golden age” of Russian classical music, represented by the names of Glinka, Dargomyzhsky and their immediate successors of the “sixties” generation, had not yet passed. In 1881, Rimsky-Korsakov, under whose guidance Glazunov mastered the basics of composing technique, composed The Snow Maiden, a work that marked the onset of high creative maturity of its author. The 80s and early 90s were the period of the highest prosperity for Tchaikovsky as well. At the same time, Balakirev, returning to musical creativity after a severe spiritual crisis he suffered, creates some of his best compositions.
It is quite natural that an aspiring composer, such as Glazunov was then, took shape under the influence of the musical atmosphere surrounding him and did not escape the influence of his teachers and older comrades. His first works bear a noticeable stamp of “Kuchkist” tendencies. At the same time, some new features are already emerging in them. In a review of the performance of his First Symphony in a concert of the Free Music School on March 17, 1882, conducted by Balakirev, Cui noted the clarity, completeness and sufficient confidence in the embodiment of his intentions by the 16-year-old author: “He is completely capable of expressing what he wants, and soas he wants.” Later, Asafiev drew attention to the constructive “predetermination, unconditional flow” of Glazunov’s music as a kind of given, inherent in the very nature of his creative thinking: “It’s as if Glazunov does not create music, but It has created, so that the most complex textures of sounds are given by themselves, and not found, they are simply written down (“for memory”), and not embodied as a result of a struggle with unyielding vague material. This strict logical regularity of the flow of musical thought did not suffer from the speed and ease of composition, which were especially striking in the young Glazunov during the first two decades of his composing activity.
It would be wrong to conclude from this that Glazunov’s creative process proceeded completely thoughtlessly, without any kind of internal effort. The acquisition of his own author’s face was achieved by him as a result of hard and hard work on improving the composer’s technique and enriching the means of musical writing. Acquaintance with Tchaikovsky and Taneyev helped to overcome the monotony of techniques noted by many musicians in Glazunov’s early works. The open emotionality and explosive drama of Tchaikovsky’s music remained alien to the restrained, somewhat closed and inhibited in his spiritual revelations Glazunov. In a brief memoir essay, “My Acquaintance with Tchaikovsky,” written much later, Glazunov remarks: “As for myself, I would say that my views in art diverged from those of Tchaikovsky. Nevertheless, studying his works, I saw in them a lot of new and instructive things for us, young musicians at that time. I drew attention to the fact that, being primarily a symphonic lyricist, Pyotr Ilyich introduced elements of the opera into the symphony. I began to bow not so much to the thematic material of his creations, but to the inspired development of thoughts, temperament and perfection of texture in general.
Rapprochement with Taneyev and Laroche at the end of the 80s contributed to Glazunov’s interest in polyphony, directed him to study the work of the old masters of the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries. Later, when he had to teach a polyphony class at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Glazunov tried to instill a taste for this high art in his students. One of his favorite students, M. O. Steinberg, wrote, recalling his conservatory years: “Here we got acquainted with the works of the great counterpointists of the Dutch and Italian schools … I remember well how A. K. Glazunov admired the incomparable skill of Josquin, Orlando Lasso, Palestrina, Gabrieli, how he infected us, young chicks, who were still poorly versed in all these tricks, with enthusiasm.
These new hobbies caused alarm and disapproval among Glazunov’s mentors in St. Petersburg, who belonged to the “new Russian school”. Rimsky-Korsakov in the “Chronicle” carefully and restrainedly, but quite clearly, speaks of new trends in the Belyaev circle, connected with the restaurant “sitting” of Glazunov and Lyadov with Tchaikovsky, which were dragging on after midnight, about the more frequent meetings with Laroche. “New time – new birds, new birds – new songs,” he notes in this regard. His oral statements in the circle of friends and like-minded people were more frank and categorical. In V. V. Yastrebtsev’s notes, there are remarks about the “very strong influence of Laroshev’s (Taneev’s?) ideas” on Glazunov, about “Glazunov who had completely gone crazy”, reproaches that he was “under the influence of S. Taneyev (and maybe Laroche ) somewhat cooled off towards Tchaikovsky.
Such accusations can hardly be considered fair. Glazunov’s desire to expand his musical horizons was not associated with a renunciation of his former sympathies and affections: it was caused by a completely natural desire to go beyond the narrowly defined “directive” or circle views, to overcome the inertia of preconceived aesthetic norms and evaluation criteria. Glazunov firmly defended his right to independence and independence of judgment. Turning to S. N. Kruglikov with a request to report on the performance of his Serenade for orchestra in a concert of the Moscow RMO, he wrote: “Please write about the performance and the results of my stay at the evening with Taneyev. Balakirev and Stasov reprimand me for this, but I stubbornly disagree with them and do not agree, on the contrary, I consider this some kind of fanaticism on their part. In general, in such closed, “inaccessible” circles, as our circle was, there are many petty shortcomings and womanish cocks.
In the true sense of the word, Glazunov’s acquaintance with Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, performed by a German opera troupe that toured St. Petersburg in the spring of 1889, was a revelation. This event forced him to radically change the preconceived skeptical attitude towards Wagner, which he had previously shared with the leaders of the “new Russian school”. Distrust and alienation are replaced by a hot, passionate passion. Glazunov, as he admitted in a letter to Tchaikovsky, “believed in Wagner.” Struck by the “original power” of the sound of the Wagner orchestra, he, in his own words, “lost the taste for any other instrumentation”, however, without forgetting to make an important reservation: “of course, for a while.” This time, Glazunov’s passion was shared by his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, who fell under the influence of the luxurious sound palette rich in various colors of the author of The Ring.
The stream of new impressions that swept over the young composer with a still unformed and fragile creative individuality sometimes led him into some confusion: it took time to experience and comprehend all this inwardly, to find his way among the abundance of different artistic movements, views and aesthetics that opened before him. positions, This caused those moments of hesitation and self-doubt, about which he wrote in 1890 to Stasov, who enthusiastically welcomed his first performances as a composer: “At first everything was easy for me. Now, little by little, my ingenuity is somewhat dulled, and I often experience painful moments of doubt and indecision, until I stop at something, and then everything goes on as before … “. At the same time, in a letter to Tchaikovsky, Glazunov admitted the difficulties he experienced in the implementation of his creative ideas because of “the difference in the views of the old and the new.”
Glazunov felt the danger of blindly and uncritically following the “Kuchkist” models of the past, which led in the work of a composer of lesser talent to an impersonal epigone repetition of what had already been passed and mastered. “Everything that was new and talented in the 60s and 70s,” he wrote to Kruglikov, “now, to put it harshly (even too much), is parodied, and thus the followers of the former talented school of Russian composers do the latter a very bad service” . Rimsky-Korsakov expressed similar judgments in an even more open and decisive form, comparing the state of the “new Russian school” in the early 90s with a “dying-out family” or a “withering garden.” “… I see,” he wrote to the same addressee to whom Glazunov addressed with his unhappy reflections, “that new Russian school or a mighty group dies, or is transformed into something else, completely undesirable.
All these critical assessments and reflections were based on the consciousness of the exhaustion of a certain range of images and themes, the need to search for new ideas and ways of their artistic embodiment. But the means to achieve this goal, the teacher and the student sought on different paths. Convinced of the lofty spiritual purpose of art, the democrat-educator Rimsky-Korsakov strove, first of all, to master new meaningful tasks, to discover new aspects in the life of the people and the human personality. For the ideologically more passive Glazunov, the main thing was not that, as, the tasks of a specifically musical plan were brought to the fore. “Literary tasks, philosophical, ethical or religious tendencies, pictorial ideas are alien to him,” wrote Ossovsky, who knew the composer well, “and the doors in the temple of his art are closed to them. A.K. Glazunov only cares about music and only her own poetry – the beauty of spiritual emotions.
If in this judgment there is a share of intentional polemical sharpness, associated with the antipathy that Glazunov himself expressed more than once to detailed verbal explanations of musical intentions, then on the whole the position of the composer was characterized by Ossovsky correctly. Having experienced a period of contradictory searches and hobbies during the years of creative self-determination, Glazunov in his mature years comes to a highly generalized intellectualized art, not free from academic inertia, but impeccably strict in taste, clear and internally whole.
Glazunov’s music is dominated by light, masculine tones. He is not characterized by either the soft passive sensitivity that is characteristic of Tchaikovsky’s epigones, or the deep and strong drama of the author of Pathetique. If flashes of passionate dramatic excitement sometimes appear in his works, then they quickly fade away, giving way to a calm, harmonious contemplation of the world, and this harmony is achieved not by fighting and overcoming sharp spiritual conflicts, but is, as it were, pre-established. (“This is the exact opposite of Tchaikovsky!” Ossovsky remarks about Glazunov’s Eighth Symphony. “The course of events,” the artist tells us, “is predetermined, and everything will come to world harmony”).
Glazunov is usually attributed to the artists of an objective type, for whom the personal never comes to the fore, expressed in a restrained, muted form. In itself, the objectivity of the artistic worldview does not exclude the feeling of dynamism of life processes and an active, effective attitude towards them. But unlike, for example, Borodin, we do not find these qualities in the creative personality of Glazunov. In the even and smooth flow of his musical thought, only occasionally disturbed by manifestations of more intense lyrical expression, one sometimes feels some inner inhibition. Intense thematic development is replaced by a kind of game of small melodic segments, which are subject to various rhythmic and timbre-register variations or are intertwined contrapuntally, making up a complex and colorful lace ornament.
The role of polyphony as a means of thematic development and construction of an integral finished form in Glazunov is extremely great. He makes extensive use of its various techniques, up to the most complex types of vertically movable counterpoint, being in this respect a faithful student and follower of Taneyev, with whom he can often compete in terms of polyphonic skill. Describing Glazunov as “the great Russian counterpointist, standing on the pass from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century,” Asafiev sees the essence of his “musical worldview” in his penchant for polyphonic writing. The high degree of saturation of the musical fabric with polyphony gives it a special smoothness of flow, but at the same time a certain viscosity and inactivity. As Glazunov himself recalled, when asked about the shortcomings of his manner of writing, Tchaikovsky answered succinctly: “Some lengths and lack of pauses.” The detail aptly captured by Tchaikovsky acquires an important fundamental meaning in this context: the continuous fluidity of the musical fabric leads to a weakening of contrasts and obscuring the lines between various thematic constructions.
One of the features of Glazunov’s music, which sometimes makes it difficult to perceive, Karatygin considered “its relatively low ‘suggestiveness'” or, as the critic explains, “to use Tolstoy’s term, Glazunov’s limited ability to ‘infect’ the listener with the ‘pathetic’ accents of his art.” A personal lyrical feeling is not poured out in Glazunov’s music as violently and directly as, for example, in Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff. And at the same time, one can hardly agree with Karatygin that the author’s emotions are “always crushed by a huge thickness of pure technique.” Glazunov’s music is not alien to lyrical warmth and sincerity, breaking through the armor of the most complex and ingenious polyphonic plexuses, but his lyrics retain the features of chaste restraint, clarity and contemplative peace inherent in the entire creative image of the composer. Its melody, devoid of sharp expressive accents, is distinguished by plastic beauty and roundness, evenness and unhurried deployment.
The first thing that arises when listening to Glazunov’s music is a feeling of enveloping density, richness and richness of sound, and only then does the ability to follow the strictly regular development of a complex polyphonic fabric and all the variant changes in the main themes appear. Not the last role in this regard is played by the colorful harmonic language and the rich full-sounding Glazunov orchestra. The orchestral-harmonic thinking of the composer, which was formed under the influence of both his closest Russian predecessors (primarily Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov), and the author of Der Ring des Nibelungen, also has some individual features. In a conversation about his “Guide to Instrumentation,” Rimsky-Korsakov once remarked: “My orchestration is more transparent and more figurative than that of Alexander Konstantinovich, but on the other hand, there are almost no examples of a “brilliant symphonic tutti,” while Glazunov has just such and such instrumental examples. as much as you like, because, in general, his orchestration is denser and brighter than mine.
Glazunov’s orchestra does not sparkle and shine, shimmering with various colors, like Korsakov’s: its special beauty is in the evenness and gradualness of transitions, creating the impression of a smooth swaying of large, compact sound masses. The composer strove not so much for differentiation and opposition of instrumental timbres, but for their fusion, thinking in large orchestral layers, the comparison of which resembles the change and alternation of registers when playing the organ.
With all the variety of stylistic sources, Glazunov’s work is a fairly integral and organic phenomenon. Despite its inherent features of a well-known academic isolation and detachment from the actual problems of its time, it is able to impress with its inner strength, cheerful optimism and richness of colors, not to mention the great skill and careful thought of all the details.
The composer did not come to this unity and completeness of style immediately. The decade after the First Symphony was for him a period of searching and hard work on himself, wandering among various tasks and goals that attracted him without a certain firm support, and sometimes obvious delusions and failures. Only around the middle of the 90s did he manage to overcome the temptations and temptations that led to one-sided extreme hobbies and enter the broad road of independent creative activity. A relatively short period of ten to twelve years at the turn of the 1905th and 1906th centuries was for Glazunov the period of the highest creative flowering, when most of his best, most mature and significant works were created. Among them are five symphonies (from the Fourth to the Eighth inclusive), the Fourth and Fifth quartets, the Violin Concerto, both piano sonatas, all three ballets and a number of others. Approximately after XNUMX–XNUMX, a noticeable decline in creative activity sets in, which steadily increased until the end of the composer’s life. In part, such a sudden sharp decline in productivity can be explained by external circumstances and, above all, by the large, time-consuming educational, organizational and administrative work that fell on the shoulders of Glazunov in connection with his election to the post of director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. But there were reasons of an internal order, rooted primarily in a sharp rejection of those latest trends that resolutely and imperiously asserted themselves in the work and in the musical life of the early XNUMXth century, and partly, perhaps, in some personal motives that have not yet been fully elucidated. .
Against the backdrop of developing artistic processes, Glazunov’s positions acquired an increasingly academic and protective character. Almost all European music of the post-Wagnerian time was categorically rejected by him: in the work of Richard Strauss, he did not find anything but “disgusting cacophony”, the French Impressionists were just as alien and antipathetic to him. Of the Russian composers, Glazunov was sympathetic to a certain extent to Scriabin, who was warmly received in the Belyaev circle, admired his Fourth Sonata, but could no longer accept the Poem of Ecstasy, which had a “depressing” effect on him. Even Rimsky-Korsakov was blamed by Glazunov for the fact that in his writings he “to some extent paid tribute to his time.” And absolutely unacceptable for Glazunov was everything that the young Stravinsky and Prokofiev did, not to mention the later musical trends of the 20s.
Such an attitude towards everything new was bound to give Glazunov a feeling of creative loneliness, which did not contribute to the creation of a favorable atmosphere for his own work as a composer. Finally, it is possible that after a number of years of such intense “self-giving” in the work of Glazunov, he simply could not find anything else to say without re-singing himself. Under these conditions, work at the conservatory was able, to a certain extent, to weaken and smooth out that feeling of emptiness, which could not but arise as a result of such a sharp decline in creative productivity. Be that as it may, since 1905, in his letters, complaints are constantly heard about the difficulty of composing, the lack of new thoughts, “frequent doubts” and even unwillingness to write music.
In response to a letter from Rimsky-Korsakov that has not reached us, apparently censuring his beloved student for his creative inaction, Glazunov wrote in November 1905: You, my beloved person, whom I envy for the fortress of strength, and, finally, I only last up to 80 years old … I feel that over the years I become more and more unfit to serve people or ideas. This bitter confession reflected the consequences of Glazunov’s long illness and everything he experienced in connection with the events of 60. But even then, when the sharpness of these experiences became dull, he did not feel an urgent need for musical creativity. As a composer, Glazunov had fully expressed himself by the age of forty, and everything he wrote over the remaining thirty years adds little to what he created earlier. In a report on Glazunov, read in 40, Ossovsky noted the “decline in the creative power” of the composer since 1905, but in fact this decline comes a decade earlier. The list of new original compositions by Glazunov from the end of the Eighth Symphony (1949–1917) to the autumn of 1905 is limited to a dozen orchestral scores, mostly in small form. (Work on the Ninth Symphony, which was conceived as early as 1904, of the same name as the Eighth, did not progress beyond the sketch of the first movement.), and music for two dramatic performances – “The King of the Jews” and “Masquerade”. Two piano concertos, dated 1911 and 1917, are the implementation of earlier ideas.
After the October Revolution, Glazunov remained as director of the Petrograd-Leningrad Conservatory, took an active part in various musical and educational events, and continued his performances as a conductor. But his discord with innovative trends in the field of musical creativity deepened and took on more and more acute forms. New trends met with sympathy and support among a part of the conservatory professorship, who sought reforms in the educational process and renewal of the repertoire on which young students were brought up. In this regard, disputes and disagreements arose, as a result of which the position of Glazunov, who firmly guarded the purity and inviolability of the traditional foundations of the Rimsky-Korsakov school, became more and more difficult and often ambiguous.
This was one of the reasons why, having left for Vienna in 1928 as a member of the jury of the International Competition organized for the centenary of Schubert’s death, he never returned to his homeland. The separation from the familiar environment and old friends Glazunov experienced hard. Despite the respectful attitude of the largest foreign musicians towards him, the feeling of personal and creative loneliness did not leave the sick and no longer young composer, who was forced to lead a hectic and tiring lifestyle as a touring conductor. Abroad, Glazunov wrote several works, but they did not bring him much satisfaction. His state of mind in the last years of his life can be characterized by lines from a letter to M. O. Steinberg dated April 26, 1929: “As Poltava says about Kochubey, I also had three treasures – creativity, connection with my favorite institution and concert performances. Something goes wrong with the former, and interest in the latter works is cooling, perhaps in part because of their belated appearance in print. My authority as a musician has also fallen significantly … There remains hope for “colporterism” (From the French colporter – to spread, distribute. Glazunov means the words of Glinka, said in a conversation with Meyerbeer: “I don’t tend to distribute my compositions”) of my own and someone else’s music, to which I retained my strength and working capacity. This is where I put an end to it.”
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Glazunov’s work has long been universally recognized and has become an integral part of the Russian classical musical heritage. If his works do not shock the listener, do not touch the innermost depths of spiritual life, then they are able to deliver aesthetic pleasure and delight with their elemental power and inner integrity, combined with wise clarity of thought, harmony and completeness of embodiment. The composer of the “transitional” band, which lies between two eras of the bright heyday of Russian music, he was not an innovator, a discoverer of new paths. But the enormous, most perfect skill, with a bright natural talent, wealth and generosity of creative invention, allowed him to create many works of high artistic value, which still have not lost a lively topical interest. As a teacher and public figure, Glazunov greatly contributed to the development and strengthening of the foundations of Russian musical culture. All this determines his importance as one of the central figures of Russian musical culture at the beginning of the XNUMXth century.
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