ANATOL KONSTANTINOVICH LIADOV (1855 - 1914)
The son of a conductor at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Anatol Liadov was trained at the Conservatory, where he was briefly a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov and later a member of the teaching staff. He was associated with Balakirev and subsequently became a member of Belyayev’s circle, helping, in particular, in the establishment of the publishing house that Belyayev set up for Russian composers. He was a thoroughly competent musician, conductor and composer but did not apply himself consistently to work. His failure to supply music for a Diaghilev ballet in Paris in 1910 allowed Stravinsky his first chance with the Ballets Russes. His compositions are characteristic of this period in Russian music, when nationalism was joined with technical competence inculcated at the conservatories.
The best-known orchestral compositions by Liadov are the descriptive Russian fairytale pieces Kikimora, Baba-Yaga and Volshebnoye ozero (‘The Enchanted Lake’). His last orchestral work was the symphonic poem Skorbnaya pesn’ (‘Threnody’). All are very much in the nationalist tradition exemplified by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Liadov wrote a number of shorter piano pieces, including fugues and a set of canons, testimony to his contrapuntal ability. Other pieces have characteristic titles, examples of pleasing and well-crafted compositions for which there was a ready market.
Vocal and Choral Music
Liadov wrote a setting of the final scene of Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina (‘The Bride from Messina’) for his Conservatory graduation. Of some 26 songs, 18 are children’s songs.