Nikolai Myaskovsky

1881 - 1950



Nikolay Myaskovsky was born on 20 April 1881 in the fort town of Novo-Georgievsk (Polish name Modlin) in the Warsaw administration district of Poland, which was then part of the Russian Empire. He was the second child of a senior military engineer, Yakov and his wife Vera Myaskovsky. Nikolay had an older brother, Serge_, who died of tuberculosis as a teenager, and three sisters – Vera, Valentina, and Eugenia. After their mother’s death in 1890, their aunt took care of the children. It was she who became Nikolay’s first musical teacherThe family traditions and the difficulties of being widower with five children made General Myaskovsky place his children in boarding schools. Nikolay studied for a while in Nizhny Novgorod and then in the Second Cadet Corps in St-Petersburg and he eventually graduated from the Military Engineering College. The family tradition led him to the choice of his profession; it was his duty to follow the example of his father. Later the old general would explain to his son that being military engineer is the most humane army profession – as it does not demand "cannon fodder”, does not require the merciless drill and self humiliation.Myaskovsky spent the early 1900-s however, struggling with the hard choice between his duty (military service) and his passion (music). Following the advice of his father he tried to combine both pursuits for some time (until 1907) continuing his musical studies and his professional military career which began to post him around the country.While his first musical impressions dated from the mid 1890-s, of which the strongest one was hearing a live performance of Tchaikovsky’s Six symphony conducted by Arthur Nikish in St.Petersburg on 9 November 1896, his professional musical studies only started in 1903, although by then he already played piano and violin. Myaskovsky wrote a letter to Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, the giant of the St. Petersburg musical scene and received from him an introduction to Sergey Taneev, the leading composer of Moscow and director of the Moscow Conservatory. He, in turn, introduced the young Myaskovsky to a recent graduate of the Moscow Conservatory – Reinhold Gliere. The latter took on Myaskovsky for his first private lessons on music theory, a necessary prerequisite to gain entrance to a conservatory.Similarly, a student of Rimsky-Korsakov’s, Ivan Kryzhanovsky, also played an important role. Myaskovsky studied with him for almost three years (from 1903 till 1906), and Kryzhanovsky introduced the young officer to the circle of the "Evenings of contemporary music”, the gatherings of the St-Petersburg’s enthusiasts of the modern music.


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