PAUL JUON (1872 - 1940)
Paul Juon was born in Moscow; his father was the son of a Swiss émigré, and Paul was educated in a German school in Moscow before entering the Imperial Conservatory there to study violin and composition. He studied composition with Anton Arensky and Sergey Taneyev, both of whose styles had been strongly influenced by Tchaikovsky. He continued his studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with Woldemar Bargiel—Clara Schumann’s half-brother—providing Juon with a direct link to the German Romantic style of Mendelssohn and Schumann. After returning to Russia for a brief stint teaching violin and music theory in Baku, Juon settled in Berlin in 1897, teaching composition at the Hochschule für Musik beginning in 1906. He was named professor of composition there in 1911. In 1934, ill health led him to retire to Vevey in Switzerland.
While the influences of Tchaikovsky and Taneyev come through in his music, Juon’s compositional voice is largely Germanic—he has even been called the ‘Russian Brahms’. Much of his later music is full of the sound of Scandinavia, perhaps a consequence of his experience arranging Sibelius’s works for his German publisher. Along with other Russian-born composers of his generation, including Taneyev’s students Nikolai Medtner and Sergey Rachmaninov, Juon’s style remained firmly rooted in tonality and Romantic musical gestures.