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Sergey Taneev (1856-1915)

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Sergey Ivanovich Taneev was born on November 25, 1856 in Vladimir. His father was a government employee; he was an amateur of music, played several musical instruments. His mother spent great efforts to educate their three sons. In his childhood Sergey met many writers, painters, and amateur musicians who gathered in their house. He started musical studies at the age of 5.

In 1866 Taneevs parents moved to Moscow, and Sergey became a student of the Moscow Conservatory. He studied piano with Langer. The young composer was mostly influenced by his studies in the classes of N.Rubinstein (piano) and P.Tchaikovsky (instrumentation and composition). In 1875 S.Taneev graduated from the Moscow Conservatory with the gold medal.

He performed as a pianist in concerts, was the first performer of many piano pieces by Tchaikovsky, participated in performing his own chamber music in Russia, Germany and Czechia.

From 1878 Taneev started teaching in the Moscow Conservatory (piano, music theory); in 1881 he became a professor, and in 1885-1889 was a director there. Taneev was a teacher of many musicologists, conductors, pianists, and composers (in teaching he was a follower of the N.Rubinsteins tradition). Among his students were S.Rakhmaninov, A.Skryabin, N.Medtner, R.Gliere, K.Igumnov, G.Konyus, S.Vasilenko, A.Alexandrov, A.Goldenweiser, N.Myaskovsky.

In 1905 Taneev spoke for the rights of students who went on strike. As a result of the conflict with the administration he had to retire from the Conservatory but he remained in the center of the Moscow musical life. He was one of the founders and activists of the Peoples Conservatory (1906), musical scientific society (1908), many concert organizations and ensembles. He worked in the Moscow musical and ethnographic commission (in the 80s he recorded folk songs of the Caucasian people, Ukrainian songs, carried out a research on the North Caucasian folklore).

Taneev was an outstanding Russian composer, pianist, teacher, scientist; he was one of the first composers who started creating Russian polyphonic music. He combined Russian song and musical traditions with the Western forms fugue, cannon, etc.

Taneev died on June 19, 1915 in the village of Dyut'kovo near Zvenigirod; he was buried in Moscow.


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