BORIS VLADIMIROVICH ASAFIEV (1884 - 1949)
Born in St Petersburg in 1884, Boris Vladimirovich Asafyev studied in the historical-philological faculty of St Petersburg University and graduated in 1910 at the Conservatory, where he was a composition pupil of Liadov and had studied orchestration with Rimsky-Korsakov. He played an important part in the musical and cultural life of Russia after the Revolution, winning a reputation first as a critic and then as a musicologist, holding a professorship at Leningrad Conservatory from 1925 until 1943, when he settled in Moscow, continuing there his varied career.
In the 1930s he had established himself as a composer, particularly of ballets which had proved acceptable to the political authorities. His own wider musical interests, which had extended to the work of leading composers outside Russia, underwent some modification after the Pravda attack on Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 1936 and towards the end of his life his attitude to the condemnation in 1948 of composers whose work he had praised and encouraged was inevitably ambiguous.