Sunday, December 07, 2008
Early this morning I listened to the ballet music, The Seasons, by Alexander Glazunov (10 August [O.S. 29 July] 1865 – 21 March 1936) who was a Russian composer, teacher and conductor. He served as director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory (later Leningrad) between 1905 and 1928. He continued heading the Conservatory until 1930, though he had left the Soviet Union in 1928 and did not return. The best known student under his tenure during the early Soviet years was Dimitri Shostakovich. Glazunov reconciled Russian Nationalism and Western influences in his music and generally resisted the more extreme modern tendencies of the early 20th century. He ended his career in exile in Paris.
The Seasons was premiered in St. Petersburg in 1900 and has been recorded several times. The music is highly romantic, reminiscent of the great ballets of Tchaikovsky and Delibes. The ballet opens with scenes depicting Winter and continues through the seasons to an Autumn finale. My favorite selections are the Waltz of the Cornflowers and Poppies (probably the most familiar melody) from the Summer, and the Bacchanal and Finale from the Autumn. Each time I listen to this music I am touched by memories of previous moments of listening with the music touching me deeply. I then spend the rest of the day with melodies from the ballet streaming through my consciousness. It is powerful music with great moments of creative triumph.