Composer of 'K'

Vassily Kalinnikov (1866-1901)

A Russian (previously Soviet Union) composer, Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov was born in 1866 at Voina, in the Oryol District as a son of a police officer. His father was a local guitarist and a singer of a chorus group which give him a musical interest and let him to start learning violin. At 14, he became a chorus master of an seminary school in his native city. In 1884, he received a scholarship from Moscow Philharmonic Society and went to Moscow Conservatory to study bassoon and composition. Although he could not help retiring the school within a few months because of the financial hardship, he entered the attached school of Moscow Philharmonic Society (exempt from charges) where he studied composition and bassoon with Alexander Il'yinsky and Pavel Blaramberg beside earning a living by the performances of bassoon, timpani or violin in theatre orchestras. Although he was helped by his lifelong friend and teacher S.V.Krugnikov, he was affected by tuberculosis around 1890 which would become a fatal disease later on, owing to his hardworking and poverty. In 1892, he came to have a chance to be known to Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky encouraged and recommended him to be chosen as a conductor of Mallïy Theatre in Moscow and the following year by a similar appointment at the Moscow Italian Theatre. Also he finally could graduate the school in 1895 and composed his monumental work 'symphony No.1'. However, because of his poverty, he could not prepare the voluminous scores by hiring score-copiers. Therefore, for his symphony to have been played, he could not help handcopying them with the assistance of his wife for the orchestra members. Then, he sent a copy of the manuscript to Rimsky-Korsakov to receive his endorcement. However, the sent copy contained many elemental fallacies because it had been handcopied by his wife (as for composition, she hadn't specially trained) so that made Rimsky-Korsakov being misunderstand of his ability. Korsakov's cruel reaction of the work made Kalinnikov disappointed seriously, and it is said the fact shorten his life. The first performance of the symphony No.1 in February 1897 caused a sensation. Later on, this work was performed in out of Russia (such as Berlin ans Paris) and was internationally acclaimed finally. But his health condition had become too serious to attend the first performances. In declining health Kalinnikov resigned his positions and moved to the warmer South Crimea region in 1899. He died at Yalta in Crimea region on 11th of January in 1901. Then he was only 34 year's old. (2003© K.S.)

Main Works

Stage Works Operetta (1877) not exist
Princess Mara, or Kashchey°«s Death Knyazhna Mara, ili Smert' Kashcheya (1894) ...only the text and sketch are exist
Emperor, BorisTsar Boris, after Alexey Tolstoy (1899)
1812 V 1812 godu (1899-1900)
Orchestral Fugue fugue (1889)
The Nymphs the nymfi (1889)
serenade for strings F minor (1891)
suite in C minor (1891)
'Bylina' overture (1892)
symphony No.1 in G minor (1894)
intermezzo No.1 in F sharp minor (1896-1897)
intermezzo No.2 in G major (1897)
symphony No.2 in A major (1897)
Kedr i pal'ma The cedar and the palm (1898?)
Instrumental song of hervim (1885-1886)
string quartet (-) {2vln, vla, vc} ...lost
Piano Sadness grust (1884) ...lost
scherzo, F (1888-1889)
Chanson Triste grustnaya pesenka, in G minor (1892-1893)
Russian Intermezzo Russkoye intermetstso (1894)
minuet, in E (1894)
Waltz, in A(1894)
nocturne (1894)
elegy (1894)
moderato (-)
polonaise on the theme of Symphony No.1 (-) {2p}
Songs When Life is Weighed Down with Suffering and Torment kogda zhizn' gnetut i stradan'ya, i muki (1887) ...text: Polivanov
On your Lovely Little Shoulder Dear
na chudnoye plechiko miloy (1887) ...text: Heine, trans. V.A. Fyodorov
On the Old Burial Mound
na starom kurgane (1887) ...text: I.S. Nikitin
The Gentle Stars Shone Down on Us
nam zvyozdi krotkiye siyali (1894) ...text: A.N. Pleshcheyev
Bright Stars
zvyozdi yasniye (1894) ...text: K.M. Fofanov
There Was an Old King
bil stariy korol' (1894) ...text: Heine, trans.Pleshcheyev
A Present for 1 January 1900
prezent na l-oye yanvarya 1900 goda (1900?)
16 musical letters (1892-1899°ň
Prayer molitva (1900) ...text: Pleshcheyev
kolokola (1900)
Do not Ask why I Smile in Thought ne sprashivay, zachem uniloy dumoy (1901) ...text: Pushkin
I am Yours, my Darling
ya li tebya, moya radost' (-) ...text: Heine, trans. Fyodorov
I would Like to Make my Songs into Wonderful Flowers
ya zhelal bi svoi pesni sdelat' chudnimi tsvetami(-) ...text: Heine, trans. Fyodorov

On the old barrowNa starom kurgane (-)
Chorus Cherubic Hymn kheruvimskaya (1885-1886) {choir}...lost
Little Chorus
malen'kiy khorik (1887) {choir} ...lost
The Mountain Tops
gorniye vershini (1887) {choir} ...Text: M.Yu. Lermontov, lost
Lord, our Lord
gospodi, gospodi nash' (1889) {4vo}
Christe eleison (1889) {4vo}
cantata 'Ioann damaskin' (1890) {vo, choir, orch (p)} ...
text: Tolstoy, lost
A Beauty Sitting on the Sea
nad morem krasavitsa deva sidit(1894) {f-vos, orch}...Text: Lermontov
Come to Me
pridi ko mne (-) {sop, alto, btn, p} ...Text: A.V. Kol'tsov
The Triumph of Lilliput
torzhestvo lilliputa (-) {choir, p}
Reference Iordan, I. and Kirkor, G. eds. 1980. Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov. Moscow: Sobraniye sochineniy.

Kalinnikov Disc Review

"Symphony No.1 in G minor / Symphony No.2 in A major" (Naxos : 8.553417)
Theodore Kuchar (cond) National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine
This 1995 recording of two symphonies put the orchestra on the world map and contributed the re-evaluation of this misfortuned composer in modern Russian era. Both of these two are reminiscential and intelligible modeling on Russian Nationalistic Party. But the touch holds the vivid ventilation of which may reflect his lifelong hardships. His briefness in life may has been forced him to have higher density of passion. As for the performers, their names can be easily found in other Naxos orchestral works such as Piston's violin concerto. For aught I know, since their country is formerly Soviet Union, the economic situation should be worse than western countries so that they should not be choosy for earning foreign money. Hence they should record the low-end label - Naxos. The guess clearly demonstrates this orchestra can perform much better han the low-end price (I think this orchestra is among the top orchestras of naxos). Their interpretation is much more feminal in intonation than Russian recordings. Although their gaudery in tone sounds too feminal and had better be massive in some occations, I am sure this is one of the typical examples of what the high cost performance recording is.

"Symphony No.1 in G minor / Symphony No.2 in A major" (Olympia : OCD 511)
Veronika Dudarova (cond) The Symphony Orchestra of Russia

Although of inclusion, this composer's musical diction is so-called Russian Nationalistic or Romantic idiom and is totally different from other composers collected in this homepage. To be honest, this is the first time for me to search his biographical information while the preparation of uploading this page. But his biography in full of thankless toil is tragic enough to be moved to tears of compassion. Although his works resemble Tchaikovsky in some extent, there is a huge difference between them in terms of the tension. Sometimes, Tchaikovsky describes romanticism in relaxed atmosphere which may reflects his life of having greater latitude. However, Kalinnikov's romanticism sounds like he is bewitched by death, and the energic touch of the compositions sounding he rubbed his life in them are shocking. Certainly his compositional diction is much more traditional (than the other composers in this site) in tearms of the harmonic, tonal, and formal contents. I recommend this composer is still worth listenning without my partiality. For everyone who equally loves Tchaikovsky or Dvorak as well as Debussy and Ravel, the experience of listening this composer should be a real surprise. Fortunately, the performance of this CD is also very good. If you would like to try another one, be sure to select a nice performance.

(2003. 7. 15 / amendment: 2005. 3. 22 USW)