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Sergey Taneyev (1856-1915)

Among Russian composers of the period Sergey Taneyev is noted for a cosmopolitan and academic approach to music.  In his works he rejected the strongly nationalist tendencies of the Mighty Five and concentrated instead on the technical aspects of composition.  A professor of counterpoint at the Moscow Conservatory, his works reveal a meticulously strong academic approach.  He was a student of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rubinstein, brother of the composer Anton Rubinstein.  An accomplished pianist, he premiered many of Tchaikovsky’s solo piano pieces, including the First Piano Concerto.  

 

In 1878 Taneyev entered the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory, taking his mentor, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s seat.  He remained at the Conservatory through 1905 even holding the position of director from 1885 to 1889.  His chief interest was counterpoint and in 1906 he published a textbook on this subject.  Taneyev was one of the most influential teachers of his generation.  His pupils included Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Lyapunov and Glière.     

 

His compositional output includes four symphonies, the opera Orestea based on ancient Greek mythology, numerous solo piano and chamber compositions.  There are forty Romances in the 1947 Soviet edition.  It is unclear whether this list is exhaustive.  These songs reveal a composer with excellent knowledge of both male and female voices.  The piano accompaniments are often lush and betray an exceptional musician.