Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov, composer, teacher, conductor, virtuoso pianist and alcoholic died today, 85 years ago. As a teacher, he was Director of the St Petersburg Conservatoire and hugely influential, and his pupils included Dmitri Shostakovich. As a conductor, pianist and composer, he was greatly respected, but his music hasn't really stood the test of time. This is not due to a lack of invention or quality, rather it is perhaps because of the period he was born into. His wonderfully tuneful and well-orchestrated music bears many similarities to his older contemporaries such as Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, but by the time he was writing his greatest symphonic works, his music was already slowly going out of fashion, particularly in the West. Glazunov was known for his dislike of 'modern' composers such as Debussy and Prokofiev.
Unusually, especially for a pianist-composer, he didn't compose much for his own instrument. Instead, he concentrated on large orchestral scores, where his masterful command of the orchestra and gift for melody could shine. He completed eight symphonies, three ballets, Raymonda, Les Ruses d'amour and Les Saisons, as well as numerous stand-alone symphonic works and seven string quartets. His very fine violin concerto and Raymonda are perhaps his best-known works today.
In this list we've tried to give a broad overview of his work, including chamber music, symphonies and, of course, his wonderful ballet scores. We've also included a movement from his quartet for four saxophones - he very much liked the instrument and also wrote a concerto for it. We hope you enjoy exploring the breadth of Glazunov's great talent.
Playlist compiled by Lee Armstrong, Senior Design Executive at Birmingham Royal Ballet.