|Pianist and composer Alexander Goldenweiser
was one of the great founders of the Russian Piano School, a tirelessly
dedicated pedagogue who helped establish the very system of teaching
piano in Russia that has led to many successful concert artists. Born
in what is now Chisinau, Moldova, Goldenweiser's musical training as
pianist and composer commenced once his family settled in Moscow in
1883, taking private lessons with Vasily Prokhunin, a student of
Tchaikovsky. Goldenweiser's term as student at the Moscow Conservatory
began in 1889, where he studied with Alexander Siloti, Sergey Taneyev,
Ferruccio Busoni, and Anton Arensky; he made his debut in 1896 in a
duet recital with fellow student Sergey Rachmaninoff. In his youth,
Goldenweiser was a close friend of author Leo Tolstoy, and transcribed
practically every word they shared together, publishing such comments
in book form after Tolstoy died in 1910. We also owe the existence of
Tolstoy's only musical composition to Goldenweiser, who took it down
after Tolstoy played it to him in 1906.
Just a year after his debut, Goldenweiser began to teach, and in 1906 was named to the staff of the Moscow Conservatoire, where he taught for the next 55 years. Goldenweiser also founded the Central Special Music School as an adjunct to the Moscow Conservatory in 1932 especially for the training of pianists; it remains in operation. Among the pianists who passed through Goldenweiser's instruction were Lazar Berman, Samuil Feinberg, Dmitry Kabalevsky, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Dmitry Paperno, and Nikolai Kapustin, though his favorite was Grigori Ginsburg who only outlived the master by less than a month. Goldenweiser was also a close friend to Alexander Scriabin and active in the founding of the Scriabin Museum in the 1920s. Rachmaninoff dedicated his Suite No. 2 for two pianos, Op. 17, to Goldenweiser and he enjoyed a lifelong friendship with Nikolay Medtner.
Goldenweiser never made piano rolls and did not record until 1946, when he was named a People's Artist of the USSR. He was 71 at the time and would go on to make many records up until his death at age 86; while many of his recordings are outstanding, they are uneven owing to his advanced age and the poor sound of many Soviet-era recordings. As a composer, Goldenweiser published his first composition in 1887 and continued to compose through 1912, when he breaks off -- he did not pick it up again until the early 1930s, then continuing until his death. One of the last recordings he made was of his own Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 31, partnered by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and violinist Leonid Kogan.
-- Biography by Uncle Dave Lews, from the allmusic.com website
|Whenever the opportunity
presents itself, I always ask my guests for contact information about
others who might be willing to do an interview. Naturally, I
inquired about Kabalevsky, and Smit was pleased to give me the address
in Moscow. So I wrote the Russian composer and got this positive
A friend of mine translated it for me . . . . .
I dispatched another letter with the requested material, but alas, it was simply too late . . . . .
Alexander Siloti (1863 - 1945)
In the generation prior to 1917, Siloti was one of Russia's most important artists, with music by Arensky, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky dedicated to him. At the Moscow Conservatory he studied piano with Zverev from 1871, and under Nikolai Rubinstein, Taneyev, Tchaikovsky, and Hubert from 1875. He graduated with the Gold Medal in Piano in 1881.
He worked with Liszt in Weimar (1883-1886), co-founded the Liszt-Verein in Leipzig, and there made his professional debut on 19 November 1883. Returning in 1887 Siloti taught at the Moscow Conservatory, where his students included Goldenweiser, Maximov, and first-cousin Rachmaninov. In this period he began work as editor for Tchaikovsky, particularly on the First and Second piano concerti.
He quit the Conservatory in May 1891, and from 1892-1900 lived and toured in Europe. He also toured New York, Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago in 1898.
From 1901-1903 Siloti led the Moscow Philharmonic; from 1903-1917 he organized, financed, and conducted the supremely influential Siloti Concerts in St. Petersburg. He presented Auer, Casals, Chaliapin, Enesco, Hofmann, Landowska, Mengelberg, Mottl, Nikisch, Schoenberg and Weingartner, and local and world premieres by Debussy, Elgar, Glazunov, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Sibelius, Stravinsky and others. Diaghilev first heard Stravinsky at a Siloti Concert.
In 1918 Siloti was appointed Intendant of the Mariinsky Theatre, but late the following year fled Soviet Russia for England, finally settling in New York in December 1921. From 1925-1942 he taught at the Juilliard Graduate School, performing occasionally in recital, and in November 1930 gave a legendary all-Liszt concert with Toscanini. Siloti's private students included Marc Blitzstein and Eugene Istomin.
He wrote over 200 piano arrangements and transcriptions, and orchestral editions of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi. Even though he had a great repertoire and was a famous figure during his life, his fame has gradually faded away making him quite unknown to most people of today
This interview was recorded on the telephone on November 5,
1986. Segments were used (with recordings)
on WNIB in 1991 and 1996. The
transcription was made and posted on this
website in 2013.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.