Alexander Glazunov

1865 - 1936


Born on August 10th 1865, Alexander Glazunov was a Russian composer of the late Romantic period, conductor and music teacher. It was clear from an early age that Glazunov had substantial musical potential due to his exceptional ear and impressive musical memory. He began composing aged 11, receiving tuition in his early years from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov as a private student, with Rimsky-Korsakov commenting of him that his ‘development progressed not by the day, but literally by the hour’. In 1884, Glazunov’s First Symphony was performed whilst he was on a trip to Weimer with wealthy timber merchant and amateur musician, Mitrofan Belyayev. 

Gradually, through the help and support of Belyayev, Glazunov began to enjoy international acclaim. In spite of his popularity however, he experienced a creative crisis in 1890-91 and came out of the period with a new maturity, as well as three completed symphonies, two string quartets and a ballet. In 1905, he was selected as director of Saint Petersburg Conservatory and at this stage, it is often said that he was at the peak of his creative ability. Whilst in this post, he composed many works and gained some notoriety as a conductor – although he never really mastered the art. In 1928, Glazunov toured Europe and the USA and, at the end of the tour in 1929, settled in Paris. He said publically that his reasons for doing this were health related, but it is somewhat likely that, like Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, he was fleeing the rise of the Soviet Union. By claiming that it was for health reasons, however, he remained a respected composer in the Soviet Union. In the later parts of his life, his output slowed significantly, but the works that were produced in this period, such as the Concerto for Alto Saxophone op.109 (1934) showed maturity and impressive polish. Glazunov died on March 21st 1936 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. His remains were moved to Leningrad in 1972.


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