A photograph of Taneyev in 1875
Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915)

Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev (1856-1915) was the youngest notable Russian composer whom Turgenev got to know, albeit only in the first stage of his career when he was trying to establish himself mainly as a pianist. The ten-year-old Taneyev had been enrolled by his parents in the newly inaugurated Moscow Conservatory in September 1866 as one of its first students, and during his years there he would attend Tchaikovsky's harmony class and later his orchestration and composition class (1872-75), where he became the latter's favourite student on account of his exceptional musicality and conscientious approach to everything that he undertook. At the Conservatory Taneyev also studied the piano with Nikolai Rubinstein, and in January 1875, a few months before his graduation, he made his mark in the music life of Moscow when he gave the first performance in Russia of Brahms's stirring First Piano Concerto. In his review of the concert Tchaikovsky, though by no means an admirer of Brahms's music, enthused about Taneyev's interpretation:

"Apart from the precision and strength of his technique, apart from elegance of tone and a graceful fluency in the execution of passages, Mr Taneyev astonished everyone by a maturity of understanding, self-command, and calm objectivity in conveying the idea of the work that are simply inconceivable in an artist so young" [1]

At his graduation in May 1875 the young Taneyev became the first recipient of the Conservatory's Gold Medal, and that summer he went on his first trip abroad, visiting Greece, Italy, and Switzerland. On 3 December 1875 he was the soloist in another great work for piano and orchestra when, with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting, he gave the first performance in Moscow of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. Reviewing the concert, Tchaikovsky expressed his "most fervent gratitude" towards Taneyev, and emphasized that he could not wish for a better interpretation of his own work [2]. Generally acclaimed by the Russian press as one of the country's finest young pianists, Taneyev went on to give recitals in various Russian cities in the summer of 1876 during a tour in which he was accompanied by the violinist Leopold Auer (1845-1930). Offers from concert agents in Berlin, Leipzig, Prague, Dresden, and Stuttgart began streaming in that autumn, but Taneyev decided to head for Paris instead.

Camille Saint-Saëns
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

When Taneyev arrived in Paris on 27 October 1876 and rented a room in a modest hotel in the Quartier Latin he did not have any contract in his pocket, but he was planning to give a concert. That is what his family and friends back in Russia were all expecting, with Tchaikovsky, for instance, urging him to make his début with Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto (one of Tchaikovsky's favourite works) [3]. However, already then the great, almost excessive, modesty and scrupulousness which so distinguished Taneyev's character came to the fore: he felt that he was not yet sufficiently equipped to appear before the Parisian public in a solo concert, and during his stay in the French capital, which lasted until May 1877, he worked instead on his playing technique and studied new pieces in order to expand his repertoire. Fortunately for Taneyev, life in Paris turned out to be much more stimulating and varied than just practising on a hired piano in his room. Already in one of his first letters to his parents from Paris he had written: "I'm working assiduously, I visit the theatre often, and once a week I go to a concert. I'm feeling very well" [4]. Very soon he had made the acquaintance of some leading French musicians, and in particular that of Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), possibly with the help of a letter of introduction from Tchaikovsky, who had met his French colleague in Moscow the previous year. Thus, on 6 December Taneyev informed his parents: "On Monday I played Tchaikovsky's concerto at Saint-Saëns's. The best musicians gather at his place on Mondays and there's music all evening long", and four days later he wrote to Tchaikovsky himself: "I've played your concerto at Saint-Saëns's: everyone liked it very much. On the whole, the musicians here are very interested in your compositions" [5]. This letter would give Tchaikovsky the idea of trying to organize a concert of his own works in Paris—an enterprise in which, even though it failed, Taneyev was to play a key role.

Turgenev in an 1875 portrait by Aleksei Kharlamov
Turgenev in an 1875 portrait
by Aleksei Kharlamov (1840-1925)

The most memorable acquaintance which Taneyev made that winter, however, was that of his fellow-countryman Turgenev, who had been residing in Paris since 1871. Taneyev seems to have first met him in the course of a soirée given by a Russian lady living in Paris which he described as follows in a letter to his parents towards the end of 1876:

"About five minutes later [after 10 p.m.] Turgenev arrived. He had been dining somewhere and was held up. He is tall—a whole head taller than me—solidly built, and all grey: he has a large grey beard and grey hair. Never before have I liked anyone as much as I like him: he is intelligent, kind, unpretentious, and frank, and he speaks so well that I think I could go on listening to him forever. We stayed there until half past midnight. He told me not to be shy and to drop in on him; he would tell me straight away if he was busy" [6]

Turgenev was not just the most famous Russian resident in Paris at the time, but also one of the most active figures in the city's large Russian colony, which ranged from political émigrés of the older generation, young revolutionaries on the run from the Tsarist police, and budding artists, such as Taneyev himself, who wished to spend some time in the cultural capital of Europe. Turgenev was always ready to lend a hand to Russians who found themselves in need in Paris—even to the extent of making himself suspect in the eyes of the Tsarist government (which, of course, had many spies there) by giving financial aid to those who were on its blacklist or by helping them to find work (as in the case of Adelaida Lukanina, a former student of Borodin's). These generous philanthropic efforts became especially important during the run-up to, and the first months of, the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 when the exchange rate of the ruble abroad plummeted and public opinion in many European countries, even in France, was hostile towards the Russians. As Turgenev put it in a letter in late 1876: "For a Russian, living abroad is also quite sad: it's sad to see the extent to which everyone hates us—everyone, not excluding even the French" [7]. One of the ways in which Turgenev raised funds for hard-up young Russians in Paris was by organizing literary matinées at the house on No. 50, Rue Douai, which he shared with the Viardot family. At these matinées, the tickets for which were sold among the wealthier members of the Russian colony, Turgenev himself would read excerpts from his works, and sometimes Pauline Viardot would also perform various songs, accompanied by her daughter Marianne on the piano.

As an accomplished pianist Taneyev was immediately enlisted by Turgenev to take part in one of the literary-musical matinées which he was planning for early 1877. Writing to his parents on 16 January, Taneyev noted:

"So far I haven't yet taken part in any concert here. In around three weeks' time I am going to play for the first time at a small concert which Turgenev is organizing for the benefit of poor Russians living in Paris. He is going to read excerpts from his new novel [Virgin Soil], which is to be published in the January issue of the "Herald of Europe". The audience at this concert won't be very big: it's just Russians who are coming" [8] 
Entrance ticket for a literary-musical matinée held in Paris on 27 May 1875 and featuring Turgenev and Pauline Viardot
Entrance ticket for a literary-musical matinée to raise funds for Russians
suffering financial hardship in Paris.

This charity event would in fact be postponed until the middle of March. Meanwhile, it was the organization of another concert which occupied most of Taneyev's thoughts. For towards the end of 1876 Tchaikovsky—encouraged by the praise for his Piano Concerto No. 1 from Saint-Saëns and other French musicians which Taneyev had relayed to him in Moscow—had written to his former student, asking him to discuss with Saint-Saëns whether it would be feasible to organize a concert of his works in Paris early in the coming new year. Tchaikovsky, eager for his music to reach a wider audience in Europe, was even prepared to conquer his shyness and to conduct the concert himself [9]. Among the works which he wanted to present to the Parisian public was the Piano Concerto No. 1, in which the soloist was of course to be Taneyev. The latter soon reported to Tchaikovsky that Saint-Saëns wholeheartedly approved of this idea and urged him to come to Paris as soon as possible, although he did suggest that the concert should be directed by an experienced conductor such as Édouard Colonne (1838-1910) [10]. Tchaikovsky duly got in touch with Colonne [11], and, having received a positive response from the Frenchman, he wrote to Taneyev again at the end of January 1877, asking him for another favour regarding the projected concert:

Tchaikovsky in 1877
Tchaikovsky in 1877
"Would it be seen as madness on my part if I were to ask [Mme] Viardot, through Turgenev, to take part in my concert? After all, she has performed my songs, hasn't she? If it's a crazy idea, then just throw away the enclosed letter. But if not, then please call on Turgenev and hand him this letter" [12] 

Although not documented, it is very likely that Taneyev carried out this request, and that Pauline Viardot would have agreed to take part in Tchaikovsky's concert, given that over the last six years she had often performed his song "None but the lonely heart" Listen to Mignon's song! at private recitals. Very soon, though, these ambitious plans had to be abandoned because Tchaikovsky was unable to raise the large sum of money required to hire a concert venue and to pay Colonne's orchestra. For it was not until several months later, in November 1877, that Tchaikovsky began receiving a regular allowance from his benefactress Nadezhda von Meck (1831-94), but by then his circumstances had also changed drastically due to his ill-fated marriage, and publicity—even in Paris—was the last thing he wanted [13].

Turgenev was not the only prominent Russian in Paris who was willing to help out younger compatriots in need. His good friend, the seascape painter Aleksei Bogolyubov (1824-96), who for health reasons had settled in Paris in 1873, was just as indefatigable in that respect. Taneyev experienced this for himself when he decided to look for new lodgings in Paris because his room in the Quartier Latin was situated too far from where all his new acquaintances—including Saint-Saëns, Turgenev, and the Viardots—lived. On 2 February 1877 he wrote to his parents:

A photograph of Aleksei Bogolyubov in the 1880s
Aleksei Bogolyubov (1824-96)
"Yesterday and today I've been rushing around Paris looking for lodgings. I've seen lots of rooms, but they're all unsuitable. Today before dinner I dropped in on Turgenev. On hearing that I hadn't managed to find a place for myself, he gave me a letter addressed to a Russian painter, Bogolyubov. He said that this Bogolyubov renders all kinds of services to Russian painters and artists who come to Paris, and that he would help me to find some lodgings. I immediately went off to see him. He received me very kindly and pointed me to various places where I could find a room. In the very first house I went to following his indications [on the Rue La Condamine], I found a room which is twice as big as my present one, is clean, and also has a small closet with a wash-stand. I rented it at once" [14]

The letter of recommendation to Bogolyubov which Turgenev provided Taneyev with has survived, and it clearly shows what a positive impression the young musician had made on him:

"Most kind Aleksei Petrovich, allow me to appeal to your invariable forbearance—something that I do all the more gladly in that the bearer of this little note, Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev, is fully worthy of it. He is our young compatriot, a splendid pianist, and a fine lad. He intends to spend the whole winter in Paris, but, goodness knows why, he took lodgings somewhere behind the Odéon [Theatre], whilst all his friends and acquaintances are living in our area. This is now the second day that he has been going round here and looking, but cannot find anything. Would you be so generous as to give him some practical and sensible advice—perhaps you happen to know some lodgings of the kind he is looking for? I shall give you a big thank-you for this, and Taneyev, in return, is willing to delight your ear with all kinds of harmonies and melodies" [15]

Later that year, on 10 December 1877 (Taneyev was no longer in France then), Bogolyubov would go on to found, together with Turgenev, the "Mutual Aid and Charity Society for Russian Artists in Paris". This society was able to channel the dues and donations it received from its members (of which there were seventy by 1879), as well as the proceeds from literary-musical matinees and painting exhibitions organized by Turgenev, in a more effective fashion than Turgenev and Bogolyubov's earlier initiatives. In his memoirs Bogolyubov would recall his many conversations with Turgenev and their joint projects with great warmth [16].

Soon after moving into his new lodgings, Taneyev received a brief note from Turgenev asking him to call on him so that they could discuss the literary-musical matinée which was originally scheduled to take place in the Viardots' house on 26 February 1877 [17]. For unknown reasons, this charity event was postponed until 12 March. From the memoirs of a contemporary we know that at this matinée Pauline Viardot sang Tchaikovsky's "None but the lonely heart" Listen to Mignon's song! (in Russian as always); Turgenev read excerpts from Smoke (1867) and his most recent novel, Virgin Soil, which had just been published in Russia (in two instalments in January-February 1877), and whose authorized French translation was then being serialized in the newspaper Le Temps; and Taneyev accompanied Mme Viardot's son, the violinist Paul Viardot (1857-1941), on the piano and probably also played some solo pieces [18]. As far as we can tell, this was Taneyev's only performance in public (that is, before a fee-paying audience) during his stay in Paris. The matinée was a success on the whole, with ticket sales amounting to 1058 francs—a sum which constituted the greater part of the Russian Mutual Aid Fund's revenues for 1877 [19]

A photograph of Pauline Viardot around 1860
Pauline Viardot around 1860

It is characteristic of Taneyev's modesty that in a letter he wrote to his good friends, the Maslovs, three days after the concert, he did not dwell on his own performance, but described instead his meetings with Turgenev, the Viardot family, and other local celebrities. It is worth quoting at length from this letter because it reflects the stimulating environment which the young musician was moving in during his stay in Paris:

"Turgenev lives at Rue de Douai, No. 50, which is very near to my current lodgings (it was he who persuaded me to move into this area). [...] His study is on the second floor (i.e. the third, counting as in Moscow). It's a small study [...] with a few paintings in thick gold frames (one of them is a portrait of [Mme] Viardot in her youth). The furniture is soft, green, the doors have green curtains hanging over them. In the centre is a small writing-table at which he is usually sitting when one comes to see him. I called on him once when he was unwell—his legs are often hurting, it's something like gout—and I saw Zola there. They were finishing their conversation. Zola soon left. (I don't like Zola, or rather, I don't like his eyes, which flit about everywhere). Ivan Sergeyevich told me that he wanted to organize a musical and literary matinée for the benefit of poor Russians living in Paris. People are constantly coming to see him and to ask for alms. It was decided that at this concert I was to play something with Paul Viardot (Mme Viardot's son, a violinist). In order to decide what exactly we were to play, Mme Viardot invited me to dine with them (I had been introduced to her earlier, at Saint-Saëns's). They are very unpretentious and nice people. The entire family consists of musicians (except for Mme Viardot's husband [Louis Viardot], who is a scholar and has written a history of Italian painting). Mme Viardot has three daughters (the two eldest [Louise and Claudie] are married and don't live with her) and a son. The daughters sing—the eldest [Louise] also composes—and the son plays the violin. Ivan Sergeyevich loves music very much. He said to me: 'There aren't many things that can make me cry. That is, sometimes Pushkin's verses move me to tears, but music frequently causes me to cry. Last year we had a performance here of excerpts from Gluck's Alceste. Mme Viardot sang Alceste—I was crying like an old woman'. When [Mme] Viardot sings he listens with the greatest attention, he becomes entirely engrossed in the music. Sometimes he'll whisper: 'She's an old woman, and yet how she sings!'" [20]

This letter also contains an invaluable testimony of Turgenev's attitude to Wagner, and, in general, of his aesthetic credo, which one might usefully describe as poetic realism:

"His favourite composer is Schumann. Before he didn't like him; now he places him above everyone else. He can't stand Wagner. 'His music expresses un-human feelings,' he says; 'and his characters are not people—I can't empathize with them. How can I know what is going on in the heart of a young man who arrives on a swan (Lohengrin), or in that of a young lady who has the habit of riding on a horse through clouds at night-time (The Valkyrie)?! And I'm also supposed to believe what I'm told about her seeing with her mouth and hearing with her nose! Her actions cannot move or touch me. When Wagner does have people on the stage, they are not living people, but people who express some sort of idea. Like Schiller, he finds some idea up there and tries to squeeze it into a person. I like things to move in the opposite direction altogether: not going downwards from above, but starting from below and going upwards. Certainly, let there be a striving upwards, only it should proceed from the earth, from what is earthly. Just like a tree: it grows and reaches up to the sky, whilst its roots are in the earth''" [21]
Brünnhilde and her steed Grane. Title-page of the 1889 edition of the piano-vocal score of «Die Walküre»
Brünnhilde and her steed Grane. Title-page
of an edition of the piano-vocal score
of Wagner's opera Die Walküre

Except partly for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Turgenev to the end of his life never warmed to the musical or dramatic content of Wagner's operas [22], and it is remarkable how close his views in that respect were to those of two Russian fellow-artists: Tchaikovsky and Tolstoi. When many years later, while staying at Yasnaya Polyana in the summer of 1895, Taneyev tried to explain to Tolstoi why Wagner had exerted such a huge influence on almost all modern composers, the great writer "started attacking Wagner's plots, saying that as a person of the nineteenth century and a Christian he had no need to know what the Scandinavian gods did" [23]. Tchaikovsky for his part considered Wagner a "symphonist" of genius who had gone astray in trying to write operas. Like Turgenev, he was left cold by the characters and plots of Wagner's music dramas. Thus, after attending a performance of Die Walküre in Vienna at the end of 1877 he wrote to Nadezhda von Meck: "All these Wotans, Brünnhildes, Frickas etc are so impossible, so un-human—it's just so difficult to feel keen sympathy with them" [24].

A photomontage printed in England and circulated in Russia, showing some of the women who were convicted at the Trial of the Fifty on 14/26 March 1877 and sentenced to imprisonment and hard labour
A photomontage printed in England and circulated in
Russia, showing some of the women who were
convicted at the Trial of the Fifty on 14/26 March 1877
and sentenced to hard labour and exile in Siberia.

In the course of his stay in Paris Taneyev was able to have many other conversations with Turgenev. Some of them touched upon the recently published novel Virgin Soil, which would turn out to be Turgenev's last major work. It dealt with the "going into the people" (narodniki) movement of the late 1860s and early 70s—that is, the period when many young students, often from privileged backgrounds, had gone to live among the peasants, mostly to try to improve their lot as teachers or doctors, but in some cases also to spread revolutionary propaganda. When Virgin Soil came out in Russia in January-February 1877 it was attacked by both conservative critics, who were dismayed by its satirical portrayal of various establishment figures and claimed that, living in France, Turgenev had lost all touch with contemporary Russian society, and by the left-wing press which argued that the young narodniki in the novel—whom Turgenev had on the whole portrayed sympathetically, but without denying his conviction that their attempt to incite the peasantry to revolution was misguided—were motivated too much by personal factors (as in the case of Nezhdanov, the illegitimate son of a nobleman, who yearns for a cause to give meaning to his life) to be representative of the young generation. Many 'ordinary' readers, however, were impressed by Virgin Soil, especially after details of the so-called "Trial of the Fifty", which concluded shortly after the appearance of Turgenev's novel, became known to the public. At this trial of several narodniki accused of revolutionary agitation, no less than eighteen of the defendants turned out to be women, and in this sense Turgenev's portrayal of the spirited Marianna, who breaks with her gentry background wishing to serve the people, retrospectively came to be seen as prophetic.

Writing from Paris to one of the Maslovs in early May 1877, Taneyev reported what Turgenev had told him about some of the constraints he had faced when writing Virgin Soil, as well as about his compositional method, which is in fact the one that he followed in all his novels:

"I see him [Turgenev] frequently: every Thursday at soirées at [Mme] Viardot's, and, furthermore, I call on him in the mornings. Virgin Soil is not at all written in the way he would have liked. If he had written it as he wanted, then it wouldn't have got through the censorship. [...] He was very upset by the reviews in the Russian journals [...] 'How do you write, Ivan Sergeyevich?' I asked him once. 'How I write? Well, when the idea for a new story comes into my head I write it down, and then I start thinking it over. At first everything appears very vague, just like in a haze, but then it becomes clearer and clearer. I'll show you the piece of paper on which I wrote down the first idea for my current novel [i.e. Virgin Soil]. I knew a young man like Nezhdanov. The first thing that came into my head when I conceived Virgin Soil was Nezhdanov and Marianna—just like two vague, hazy spots. After that I began to observe all the people I met from the point of view of those two spots'. He rummaged through a drawer in his writing-desk, took out a sheet of letter-paper which had written on it: 'Plan for a new story', and read it out to me. That piece of paper was written nine years ago. Since then he had sat down to write Virgin Soil three times but abandoned it each time. Attached to that piece of paper there was a list of the characters in the novel with a brief résumé for each one. When we meet I shall tell you what the epigraph to Virgin Soil is supposed to mean. You see, I've read in one journal that letters sent to our country have started to be opened and inspected frequently, and I'm afraid of writing down in my letter some words which in Russia are considered 'terrible' " [25]

The epigraph to Virgin Soil was actually taken by Turgenev from an agronony manual he happened to look through while at Spasskoe in the summer of 1876, and it reads:

"Virgin soil should be tilled not with a superficially scouring plough, but with one that penetrates deeply"
                                                From the notes of an agronomist.

Although Turgenev had assured his publisher in Russia that the plough in this epigraph was not a metaphor for revolution, but stood for enlightenment, of which the Russian peasantry was in such need, it is clear that Taneyev received a more detailed explanation from Turgenev and that he was afraid to quote it in his letter precisely because of its 'revolutionary' implications. For the educational work which Solomin, the true positive hero of Virgin Soil, carries out among the peasants working in the cotton mill he is managing, will, it is implied, encourage them to take matters into their own hands eventually. Not for nothing did Turgenev, in a private letter, describe Solomin's assistant Pavel, a resourceful peasant, as "a future revolutionary from the common folk" [26].

All in all, Taneyev benefited greatly from his acquaintance with Turgenev and the Viardot family during his stay in Paris. At their weekly soirées he had the chance to meet many leading French musicians and writers, as is clear from the letter he sent to his parents on 16 May 1877 to tell them that he would be returning home soon:

"On Thursdays I would visit the Viardots. Last week, they had their last soirée [before the summer]. At the penultimate one Gounod performed a duet with Mme Viardot, and then he sang by himself some of his own songs. On the whole, I have derived a lot of pleasure from these soirées, and most of all from the singing of [Mme] Viardot herself: I've never heard anyone who sings so well, and it's unlikely that I ever will. Two weeks ago at their house I saw Renan, Flaubert, Henri Martin (the historian), and Gustave Doré" [27]
A photograph of Gabriel Fauré as a young man
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

The above-mentioned were of course already hallowed pillars of French culture, but Taneyev also met a younger French artist who had only recently begun to make a name for himself—Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). After fighting in the Franco-Prussian War Fauré had settled in Paris in 1872 and was introduced by his mentor, Saint-Saëns, to the Viardot family. He had soon fallen in love with Mme Viardot's youngest daughter, Marianne, but it was only after the great success of his Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 13, premiered in Paris on 27 January 1877, that he was considered an eligible suitor for Marianne's hand. Turgenev had taken the young Frenchman under his wing, and one of the things he did to advance his prospects was to translate into Russian Saint-Saëns's enthusiastic article about the sonata and try to get it published in a Russian journal [28]. Although this did not work out, Taneyev did his own bit to popularize Fauré's music in Russia by sending a copy of the sonata's score to the Moscow Conservatory and extolling it in a letter to Tchaikovsky: "I am delighted with it. This is perhaps the finest composition of all those I've heard here" [29]. Fauré's star was clearly rising, and in July 1877 he was engaged to be married to Marianne Viardot. Already by October, however, the young girl had changed her mind and broken off the engagement, plunging Fauré into a depression from which he took a long time to recover. Taneyev stayed in touch with Fauré, meeting him again during another visit to Paris three years later.

At the end of his first stay in Paris (October 1876-May 1877) Taneyev had every right to say that "this year hasn't been wasted in vain", as he put it in a letter to Tchaikovsky, even though he hadn't given a solo concert in the French capital after all. For apart from hearing a lot of new music and expanding his repertoire, he had made many fascinating acquaintances, especially that of Turgenev. Over the winter of 1877-78 Taneyev would play an important role in raising Tchaikovsky's shaken morale by regularly informing his former teacher, who was then living abroad, of the preliminary rehearsals for Eugene Onegin at the Moscow Conservatory. Enthusiastic as he was about this opera, Taneyev gladly spent many hours accompanying the young singers on the piano and helping them to learn their parts. When the first four scenes from Onegin were staged at the Conservatory in December 1878 Taneyev was the conductor. Although it was Nikolai Rubinstein who conducted the subsequent rehearsals—including the dress rehearsal on 1 March 1879 which so impressed Turgenev (see the section on Tchaikovsky)—and also the opera's premiere at the Moscow Maly Theatre on 29 March 1879, Taneyev's earlier work with the inexperienced student cast was essential for this first realization of Onegin on the stage.

A photograph of Taneyev in 1886
Taneyev in 1886

In the autumn of 1878, when it became clear that Tchaikovsky was not going to return to the Moscow Conservatory, the 22-year-old Taneyev was appointed to succeed him as professor of harmony—a post which he would hold until 1905, applying his characteristic conscientiousness to the fulfilment of his teaching and administrative duties (the latter when he served as the Conservatory's director from 1885 to 1889), even though these robbed him of time for his compositional work. Rather than discussing his achievements as a teacher and composer in detail, however, we shall now consider Taneyev's occasional, less well-documented encounters with Turgenev after 1877.

When Turgenev arrived in Russia in late February 1879 a number of banquets in his honour and literary events with his participation were held, first in Moscow, and then in Saint Petersburg. The enthusiastic reception accorded to him by the students of Moscow University, in particular, touched him as a sign of how young Russians had recognized that the liberal ideals espoused by those of his, Turgenev's, generation (the so-called "men of the forties") were not so different as their own hopes for specific political reforms. He emphasized this coming together of the generations in the speech he gave at the farewell banquet organized at the "Hermitage" Restaurant on 18 March before his departure from Moscow. Taneyev was present at this banquet and reportedly performed some of Turgenev's favourite musical pieces on the restaurant's piano [30].

An engraving showing the inauguration of the Pushkin monument in Moscow in June 1880
An engraving showing the inauguration of the
Pushkin monument in Moscow in June 1880.

As part of the festivities which were held in Moscow on 18-20 June 1880 to mark the unveiling of the city's monument to Pushkin—an event which Turgenev, in his speech on 19 June, hailed as confirmation that Russia had entered the league of civilized nations and was capable of honouring not just her statesmen and military leaders, but also her first true artist and poet [31]Taneyev was commissioned to compose a cantata for chorus and orchestra to the verses of Pushkin's poem Exegi monumentum. This work was performed, with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting, as the "apotheosis" of the literary and musical recital that was held on the last day of the festivities. While it was being performed several eminent writers, including Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and the playwright Ostrovsky, walked out onto the podium and each laid his laurel wreath at the pedestal of a bust of Pushkin [32]. This cantata was one of Taneyev's early forays into a genre in which he would create some masterpieces that have begun to be rediscovered in recent years: John of Damascus (1884), and At the Reading of a Psalm (1915). 

Pushkin in an 1827 portrait by Orest Kiprensky
Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837) in an 1827
portrait by Orest Kiprensky (1782-1836)

The Pushkin festivities on the whole left a strong impression on Taneyev, as is clear from the fascinating epistolary polemic which he carried on with Tchaikovsky over the rest of the summer of 1880. Taneyev, who spent a few weeks in Paris in July and met up with such friends and colleagues as Fauré, Vincent d'Indy (1851-1931), and Camille Benoît (1851-1923), was convinced that music in the West had entered a phase of decadence in which composers merely sought after novel combinations of chords and harmonic effects. He believed that Russian composers could avoid going down this path by applying to their country's rich legacy of folk-songs the same contrapuntal principles as Bach had applied to the Lutheran chorales (which were essentially folk tunes) to create German music, so that they could develop truly Russian instrumental forms. In one of his letters to Tchaikovsky he cited Pushkin and Turgenev as examples of Russian artists who had paid close attention both to Western European culture and to the Russian common folk (cf. Turgenev's A Huntsman's Sketches):

"The coarse, grubby, and suffering people unconsciously accumulates the material for artistic creations which satisfy the highest needs of the human spirit. It was very agreeable for me to hear at the Pushkin festivities a detail about his biography which I was previously unaware of: towards the end of his life he was writing down popular sayings and listening carefully to the way the people speak. 'One should learn Russian from the women who make our communion bread', those are Pushkin's very own words. We must remember these words and direct our eyes towards the people. If that condition is fulfilled, our acquaintance with European art will render us an inestimable service, just as it did for Pushkin, for Turgenev" [33]

Although Tchaikovsky did not agree with Taneyev's idea that Russian music should strive to develop independently of that of other European countries, and he jestingly called his former student "a Slavophile Don Quixote", he greatly respected him for his earnest aspirations. He was, however, not satisfied with many of Taneyev's early compositions, which he felt were largely exercises in counterpoint lacking genuine inspiration. Indeed, it was not until some years later that Taneyev, having fully mastered the intricacies of polyphonic writing, was able to deploy these effectively in presenting melodic material that really is full of warmth and spirit—as in his attractive Symphony No. 4 (1898).

The poet Yakov Polonsky
Yakov Polonsky (1819-98)

In 1881, Turgenev came to Russia for the last time, spending the whole summer at his ancestral estate of Spasskoe, in Oryol province. He had invited the poet Yakov Polonsky (1819-98) to join him at Spasskoe together with his wife, Zhozefina Polonskaya (1844-1920), whom Turgenev encouraged to develop her talent for sculpture, and their young children. After his friend's death Polonsky would publish, on the basis of his diary, some invaluable reminiscences of that summer in Spasskoe, containing Turgenev's declarations on a wide range of topics, as well as some of the fairy-tales which he improvised for Polonsky's children. Polonsky also recalled the conversations which Turgenev had with the numerous visitors who came to see him at Spasskoe (among them Tolstoi) [34].

Polonsky's wife Zhozefina, a talented sculptress
Zhozefina Polonskaya (1844-1920)

Unfortunately, he did not record the brief visit which Taneyev paid to Spasskoe towards the end of June as he was passing through on his way to Selishche, the estate of his close friends, the Maslov family, which was also in Oryol province. We know about this visit from a remark in a letter which Taneyev sent to Tchaikovsky shortly after reaching his final destination: "I arrived at Selishche together with Fyodor Ivanovich [Maslov], having previously called on Turgenev in Mtsensk district and spent a day at his place" [35]. It was also on this occasion that Taneyev met Zhozefina Polonskaya, as he explained in a letter to another friend the following year when he visited Polonsky in Saint Petersburg (the poet had supplied Taneyev with the text for a cantata which ultimately was never composed):

"He [Polonsky] draws, by the way, and Tretyakov has bought a painting from him for his gallery [...] His wife is studying sculpture (I became acquainted with his family at Iv[an] Serg[eyevich] Turgenev's place in the country where she spent the summer last year; Fyodor Ivanovich [Maslov] and I paid a visit there). He [Polonsky] read me some excerpts from letters he has received from Ivan Sergeyevich, who is very ill" [36]

By the spring of 1882 the fatal illness which would carry Turgenev to the grave the following year had begun to manifest itself, preventing him from travelling beyond Paris and Bougival, and he had been unable to come to Russia again for the summer, despite the entreaties of Polonsky and his wife, whom he had invited to stay at Spasskoe again. Despite the excruciating pain he often suffered during the last two years of his life, Turgenev continued, with his usual generosity, to help and encourage others, and he also remained productive, completing a fine story Klara Milich (1883) based on the tragic fate of Evlaliya Kadmina, and a few other smaller works.

It is not surprising that Turgenev's death in Bougival on 3 September 1883 came as a heavy blow not just for his closest friends, but also for the countless people around the world whom he had helped, either directly, as in the case of Taneyev during his stay in Paris in 1876-77 for example, or indirectly, through the spiritually uplifting effect of his novels and stories. The news of the writer's death and the imminent preparations for transporting his remains to Saint Petersburg where, according to his wish, he was to be buried next to the grave of his mentor and "unforgettable friend", Vissarion Belinsky (1811-48), soon reached Taneyev in Moscow. On 10 September, he wrote to Fyodor Maslov:

"You must, of course, know that Turgenev is dead. I am going to the funeral in Petersburg as a delegate of the Moscow Musical Society" [37]
A photograph, taken in 1885, of Turgenev's grave in the Volkov Cemetery which is adorned by Zhozefina Polonskaya's bust of the writer
Turgenev's grave in the Volkov Cemetery, Saint
Petersburg, photographed in 1885. The bust is
by Zhozefina Polonskaya.

Apart from a similarly laconic phrase in another letter written the same day [38], Taneyev made no other comment on Turgenev's death—at least judging from the letters, diaries, and other writings of his that have been published. Should one interpret this as a sign of insensitivity on Taneyev's part? By no means, for Taneyev was very reluctant to talk about his feelings. This was the case, too, when two of the people closest to him died: his mother in 1889, and his beloved nanny Pelageya Vasilyevna in 1910. First impressions are often deceptive, and this is true of the still popular notion of Taneyev as a "dry", "academic" composer and a staid bachelor who was not quite of this world (as suggested, for instance, by his failure to realize, in the late 1890s, that Tolstoi's wife, Countess Sofya Andreyevna, had fallen in love with him) [39]. Such works as the cantata John of Damascus (dedicated to the memory of his teacher, Nikolai Rubinstein) or the Fourth Symphony show clearly that Taneyev had a rich inner world and was capable of expressing his feelings through music.

Although not confirmed explicitly by the available sources, it is very likely that Taneyev did indeed represent the Moscow Conservatory as one of the 176 delegations that made up the funeral procession which, on 9 October 1883, followed the hearse with Turgenev's coffin from the Warsaw Railway Station in Saint Petersburg to the city's Volkov Cemetery. At least a hundred and fifty thousand people are estimated to have lined the streets of Saint Petersburg to pay their last respects to one of Russia's most beloved writers [40]. For Taneyev, it must have been a specially poignant occasion because Turgenev had helped him so generously to find his feet in Paris seven years earlier. In 1885, on the second anniversary of the writer's death, a monument was erected on his grave, consisting of a bust of Turgenev fashioned by Zhozefina Polonskaya [41].

A photograph of Lev Tolstoi in 1901, with a personal inscription for Taneyev
A photograph of Tolstoi in 1901 with
a personal inscription for Taneyev.

With Tchaikovsky's death in 1893, Taneyev lost someone else whom he had always looked up to, and who in turn had relied on Taneyev to give the first performances of almost all of his major works for piano and orchestra, as well as the keyboard part in the Piano Trio. Over the following years, though, he was fortunate to enjoy the stimulating company of Tolstoi and his family, both at the writer's Moscow house and on his estate at Yasnaya Polyana, where Taneyev stayed during the summers of 1895-97. These were the years in which Tolstoi was working on his tractate What is Art?, and many of his conversations with Taneyev, faithfully recorded by the latter in his diary, turned around similar questions:

"Is art worth the sacrifices which are expended on it? Is it necessary to torment tens of thousands of people in factories, to take away the last belongings of those who till the earth, in order to enable Conservatory students and staff to play the piano for eight hours a day, in order to build theatres for the performance of Wagner's operas [...]? The art of our times is on the wrong track. It exists for a small number of rich people. I am constantly thinking about these questions" [42]

One of the examples of "false art" attacked by Tolstoi was the music of Beethoven's late period, especially the string quartets, which he considered to be abstruse and incapable of "infecting" people with the feelings experienced by the author (for Tolstoi, one of the vital criteria of "true art"). Still, when Taneyev, who often played for him the works of his favourite composers (Chopin, Mozart, Weber, and the early Beethoven), once performed Beethoven's Piano Sonata in A flat major, Op. 110, at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoi admitted that he had liked it very much, "contrary to my theories" [43]. It is such contradictions, as well as the fascinating remarks on various topics and on writers like Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and especially Turgenev (whom Tolstoi was then re-reading a lot), noted down by Taneyev often word for word, that make the figure of Tolstoi as it emerges from the latter's diaries so vivid.

Taneyev in Yasnaya Polyana in 1906
Taneyev in Yasnaya Polyana in 1906.

Despite what was said earlier about Taneyev's general reluctance to write about his innermost feelings, in 1896 he did record in his diary a remarkable dream he had had: "The musical ideas of P[yotr] I[lyich] [Tchaikovsky] appeared before me in the form of living beings floating in the air. They were like comets, resplendent and alive". However, he had only been able to recall those of Tchaikovsky's "ideas" which were truly inspired: the love-theme in the overture-fantasia Romeo and Juliet Listen to the first part of the «Romeo and Juliet» overture, the song "None but the lonely heart" Listen to Mignon's song!. These were "ideas that came from the soul", Taneyev wrote, adding: "I remembered Lev Nikolaevich [Tolstoi]'s words about the importance of sincerity in a work of art" [44]Taneyev's own Fourth Symphony (completed less than two years later), with its ultimately triumphant joyous main theme, is a splendid confirmation of that dream!

Taneyev also remained true to the democratic principles which in his youth had prompted him to try to develop Russian polyphonic forms on the basis of the peasantry's folk-songs. After resigning from the staff of the Moscow Conservatory in September 1905, in protest at the director's plans to expel all the students who had gone on strike to show their solidarity with the waves of strikes by factory-workers across the country, Taneyev went on to become, in 1906, one of the co-founders of the Moscow People's Conservatory, which offered free singing and music classes to industrial and white-collar workers. Like Turgenev, who had great faith in the future of Russia, which for him meant progress on all fronts—social, political, scientific, and cultural—and, moreover, progress that was genuinely carried by the people (cf. his famous poem-in-prose The Russian Language), Taneyev hoped that this new conservatory would tap into the "rich musical forces" that "lay stored in the depths of the Russian people's genius". As such, its teachers should strive for the following:

"that the slumbering creative forces of our musically gifted common folk come to the fore and manifest themselves in creations that are on the same level as those immortal folk melodies which constitute unattainable paragons for us, educated musicians" [45]

The "Westernist" Turgenev, despite his love of Russian folk-song, would probably not have endorsed the latter half of Taneyev's declaration, as it would have struck him as too "Slavophile", but he did fully share the hope expressed in the first part.


  1. See: P. I. Chaikovskii, Muzykal'no-kriticheskie stat'i (Moscow, 1953), p. 235-36. The complete review can be read in English on the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  2. See: P. I. Chaikovskii, Muzykal'no-kriticheskie stat'i (Moscow, 1953), p. 292-93. The complete review can be read in English on the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  3. Cf. Tchaikovsky's letter to Taneyev of 2/14 December 1876. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 11; also on the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  4. Letter from Taneyev to his parents, 20 November 1876 (New Style ?). See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 380 [back]

  5. Letters of 24 November/6 December 1876 and 28 November/10 December 1876 respectively. Ibid, p. 380-81, 10 [back]

  6. Letter from Taneyev to his parents, 17/29 December 1876. Ibid., p. 381-82 [back]

  7. Letter to Aleksei Pisemsky, 26 October/7 November 1876. See: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Pis'ma, xi, p. 254 [back]

  8. Letter from Taneyev to his parents, 29 December 1876/10 January 1877—4/16 January 1877. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 382 [back]

  9. See Tchaikovsky's letter to Taneyev of 5/17 December 1876 in: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 8-9; also on the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  10. Cf. Taneyev's letter to Tchaikovsky of 16/28 December 1876 in: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 14 [back]

  11. See Tchaikovsky's letter to Édouard Colonne of 25 December 1876/6 January 1877, which was brought to light quite recently and has been published on the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  12. Letter from Tchaikovsky to Taneyev, 12/24 January 1877. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 15; also on the Tchaikovsky Research website. Unfortunately, Tchaikovsky's enclosed letter for Turgenev has not survived [back]

  13. For an account of the fateful events of 1877—the year in which Tchaikovsky married Antonina Milyukova (1848-1917), and Nadezhda von Meck facilitated his eventual flight from Russia—based on a comprehensive study of the extant sources, see: Valerii Sokolov, Antonina Chaikovskaia. Istoriia zabytoi zhizni (Moscow, 1994), p. 27-56; Alexander Poznansky, Petr Chaikovskii. Biografiia, 2 vols (Saint Petersburg, 2009), i, p. 401-540 (English version forthcoming) or the same author's more widely available one-volume Russian biography: Chaikovskii (Moscow, 2010). See also the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  14. Letter from Taneyev to his parents, 21 January/2 February 1877. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 383 [back]

  15. Letter to Aleksei Bogolyubov, 21 January/2 February 1877. See: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Pis'ma, xii/1, p. 72 [back]

  16. For more information on the "Mutual Aid and Charity Society for Russian Artists in Paris" and the activities of Bogolyubov (the society's chairman) and Turgenev (its secretary) on its behalf, see two articles by L. I. Kuz'mina in: Turgenevskii sbornik, vol. 3 (Leningrad, 1967), p. 254-61, and Turgenevskii sbornik, vol. 4 (Leningrad, 1968), p. 275-82. For an appreciation of Bogolyubov's career, see: Rosalind P. Blakesley, 'Promoting a Pan-European Art: Aleksei Bogoliubov as Artistic Mediator between East and West', in: Russian Art and the West: A Century of Dialogue in Painting, Architecture, and the Decorative Arts (Illinois, 2007), p. 21-44. The sections of Bogolyubov's memoirs which are relevant to Turgenev have been published by N. V. Ogareva in: Literaturnoe nasledstvo, lxxvi (Moscow, 1967), p. 441-82. They are also reprinted in: V. G. Fridliand (ed.), I. S. Turgenev v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov (Moscow, 1988), p. 335-56 [back]

  17. Turgenev's letter to Taneyev of 3/15 February 1877 reads: "Most kind Sergei Ivanovich, I see that you have moved into new lodgings, and I presume that the Rue La Condamine is not that far from here. In any case, I would ask you to call on me either today at around 6 o'clock or tomorrow morning. I need to have a word with you regarding our matinée". See: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Pis'ma, xii/1, p. 86. This is the only letter from Turgenev to Taneyev which has survived. Taneyev's letters to him have not come to light [back]

  18. Many years later, Elena Blaramberg (1846-1923), a Russian friend of Mme Viardot's eldest daughter Louise Héritte-Viardot (1841-1918), recalled how she stayed with the Viardots at both Bougival and Paris in 1876-77 and described what must clearly have been the matinée of 12 March 1877: "At the very height of the season there took place in Mme Viardot's salon, following the example of previous years, a literary-musical matinée to raise funds for the Russian library in Paris. The salon filled up with a large Russian audience. Mme Viardot performed Tchaikovsky's romance "None but the lonely heart" Listen to Mignon's song! with her characteristic passion, expressiveness, and faultless diction. Turgenev read an excerpt from Smoke: 'The meeting at the station between Litvinov and the Gubaryov brothers' [Ch. 28], and the scene of Marianna's flight from the Sipyagins' house together with Nezhdanov [Ch. 22 of Virgin Soil ]. He was better at getting across the comic scenes than the lyrical ones. Still, his reading was on the whole splendid, simple, and clear. Among the performers were Paul Viardot (violin) and, if I am not mistaken, S. I. Taneyev (piano). The matinée's success was in all respects tremendous". See: V. G. Fridliand and S. M. Petrov (eds), I. S. Turgenev v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov, 2 vols (Moscow, 1983), ii, p. 184. We know the date of this matinée from the following passage in Taneyev's letter to the Maslovs on 3/15 March 1877: "On the 12th I heard him [Turgenev] read for the first time (our concert finally took place). He reads wonderfully!". See: G. Bernandt, S. I. Taneev (Moscow / Leningrad, 1950), p. 42 [back]

  19. In an appeal to all Russians in Paris, dated 11 December 1877, the day after the "Mutual Aid and Charity Society for Russian Artists in Paris" was formally constituted, Turgenev explained why the Mutual Aid Fund had been set up earlier that year, gave a breakdown of the fund's revenues and expenditure so far, and urged his compatriots to make further donations. The fund was used mainly to help out young Russian art students and workers in Paris. See: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Sochineniia, xv, p. 254-55 [back]

  20. Letter from Taneyev to the Maslovs, 3/15 March 1877. Quoted in: G. Bernandt, S. I. Taneev (Moscow / Leningrad, 1950), p. 42 [back]

  21. Letter from Taneyev to the Maslovs, 3/15 March 1877. Ibid., p. 42-43. This passage from the letter is also quoted by Abram Gozenpud in his excellent study of Turgenev and music: I. S. Turgenev. Issledovanie (Saint Petersburg, 1994), p. 48 [back]

  22. When the Danish-Belgian composer and conductor Eduard Lassen (1830-1904), a friend of Pauline Viardot's, visited Bougival in the summer of 1882, he acquainted her and Turgenev with the music of Wagner's last opera Parsifal, recently premiered at Bayreuth. This is what Turgenev reported to Mme Viardot's daughter Claudie: "He [Lassen] is very kind as always, but he played us some fragments from Parsifal which have caused me a real 'Katzenjammer' [i.e. hang-over]. I shall never digest this music". Letter to Claudie Chamerot (née Viardot), 1/13 August 1882. See: H. Granjard and A. Zviguilsky (eds), Lettres inédites de Tourguénev à Pauline Viardot et à sa famille (Lausanne, 1972), p. 290-91. In the original French: "Il est toujours très gentil—mais il nous a joué des fragments de «Parsifal», qui m'ont causé un vrai «Katzenjammer». Jamais je ne digérerai cette musique" [back]

  23. Entry for 7/19 August 1895 in Taneyev's diary. See: S. I. Taneev, Dnevniki, 3 vols (Moscow, 1981-85), i, p. 121 [back]

  24. Letter to Nadezhda von Meck, 26 November/8 December 1877. Quoted here from the Belcanto Tchaikovsky Pages. For a survey of Tchaikovsky's reflections on Wagner over the years, see the Tchaikovsky Research website [back]

  25. Letter from Taneyev to Fyodor Maslov, early/mid May 1877. Quoted in a footnote in: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 383. The preliminary sketches for Virgin Soil referred to by Taneyev above have been published in the Academy edition of Turgenev's Complete Works. See: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Sochineniia, xii, p. 314-17. They include a note on the overall idea of the novel (dated: Baden-Baden, 17/29 July 1870), and a summary list of the characters (dated: Paris, February 1872). Turgenev would not complete the novel until July 1876, after six months of continuous work, the last two of which were done at his ancestral estate in Spasskoe [back]

  26. Letter to Konstantin Kavelin, 17/29 December 1876. See: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Pis'ma, xii/1, p. 39. Taneyev's letter to Fyodor Maslov in the context of Virgin Soil is discussed in an article by V. A. Gromov: '"Nov'". O zaglavii, epigrafe i nekotorykh real'nykh istochnikakh romana', in: Turgenevskii sbornik, vol. 5 (Leningrad, 1969), p. 313-18 [back]

  27. Letter from Taneyev to his parents, 4/16 May 1877. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 386 [back]

  28. See Turgenev's letter to Yuliya Vrevskaya, 7/19 April 1877, in: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Pis'ma, xii/1, p. 133-34. Saint-Saëns's article had appeared in Le Journal de musique twelve days earlier. Turgenev's translation seems to have been lost. Cf. also Turgenev's letter of 9/21 June 1877 to Marianne's sister Claudie: "It is very kind and good of you to extend your patronage to the 'hapless' Fauré. I love this lad very much and would be very happy to see Marianne grow fond of him". See: A. Zviguilsky (ed.), Ivan Tourguénev. Nouvelle correspondance inédite, 2 vols (Paris, 1971), i, p. 276. In the original French: "Tu es bien gentille et bien bonne de protéger «l'infortuné» Fauré; j'aime beaucoup ce garçon et je serais très heureux de voir Marianne se prendre d'affection pour lui" [back]

  29. Letter from Taneyev to Tchaikovsky, 12/24 May 1877. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 18 [back]

  30. See the newspaper article quoted in the Chronology section of the Taneyev Musical Society's website [back]

  31. Turgenev's speech, which is undeservedly less well-known than Dostoevsky's more passionate tribute to Pushkin given the following day, is included in: I. S. Turgenev, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 28 vols (Leningrad, 1961-68), Sochineniia, xv, p. 66-76 [back]

  32. See the account of these festivities by a contemporary, M. A. Venevitinov, in: G. Bernandt, S. I. Taneev (Moscow / Leningrad, 1950), p. 74 [back]

  33. Letter from Taneyev to Tchaikovsky, 25 July/6 August 1880. Quoted here from: G. Bernandt, S. I. Taneev (Moscow / Leningrad, 1950), p. 58. In the publication of this letter in: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 54-55, the last sentence of the passage quoted above was omitted. This edition is unfortunately marred by many censorial interventions, especially in Tchaikovsky's letters. Most of these omissions occur in passages which seemed insufficiently patriotic to Soviet censors at the time [back]

  34. Polonsky's memoir, entitled 'I. S. Turgenev at home during his last visit to his home land' ('I. S. Turgenev u sebia v ego poslednii priezd na rodinu', 1884), is included in: V. G. Fridliand and S. M. Petrov (eds), I. S. Turgenev v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov, 2 vols (Moscow, 1983), ii, p. 358-406, and in many other editions of reminiscenses of Turgenev [back]

  35. Letter from Taneyev to Tchaikovsky, 19 June/1 July 1881. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 68. Taneyev spent most of his summer months at Selishche, where the beautiful landscape and the lively company of the Maslov family stimulated both his compositional and scholarly work (it was at Selishche that he wrote the greater part of his famous treatise on counterpoint). For more information on Taneyev's visits to Selishche and his friendship with the Maslovs, see: Tamara Slutskaia, '"Ochen' khochetsia v Selishche..." (Taneev i sem'ia Maslovykh)', in: E. V. Fetisova (ed.), Novoe o Taneeve (Moscow, 2007), p. 57–69 [back]

  36. Letter from Taneyev to Anton Arensky, 26 November/8 December 1882. See: S. I. Taneev. Materialy i dokumenty, i (Moscow, 1952), p. 72 [back]

  37. Letter from Taneyev to Fyodor Maslov, 29 August/10 September 1883. See: V. A. Zhdanov (ed.), P. I. Chaikovskii. S. I. Taneev. Pis'ma (Moscow, 1951), p. 394 [back]

  38. Cf. his letter to Anton Arensky of 29 August/10 September 1883: "I am going to Petersburg for one day to attend Turgenev's funeral as a delegate of the Conservatory". See: S. I. Taneev. Materialy i dokumenty, i (Moscow, 1952), p. 109 [back]

  39. See, for example, the pages dedicated to Taneyev in the memoirs of Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935): 50 let russkoi muzyki v moikh vospominaniakh (Moscow, 1934), p. 135-37. Ippolitov-Ivanov praised Taneyev warmly as a pianist and teacher, and generally for his personal integrity, but lamented that, with the exception of the cantata John of Damascus, so much of his music was marred by "academic dryness". This is an assessment which has begun to be revised in recent years, as new recordings of Taneyev's works have been released. For further discussion of this topic, see an excellent article by Gavin Dixon: 'Sergei Taneyev: Tchaikovsky's Heir or the Russian Bach?'. Recently, it has also emerged that, despite his wish to have a family of his own as a young man, Taneyev remained a bachelor because the woman he loved—the Swiss-born pianist Maria Kind-Benois (1855-1909)—was already married, and he could not bear to separate her from her children. See the information provided by Elena Fetisova, head of the Taneyev department at the Glinka State Central Museum of Musical Culture, in: E. V. Fetisova (ed.), Novoe o Taneeve (Moscow, 2007), p. 326 [back]

  40. See the account of Turgenev's funeral based on newspaper reports and other documents compiled by L. R. Lanskoi in: Literaturnoe nasledstvo, lxxvi (Moscow, 1967), p. 633-701 [back]

  41. For more information on Zhozefina Polonskaya, her bust of Turgenev (one of her first commissions), and her career as a sculptor, see the article by N. N. Foniakova in: Turgenevskii sbornik, vol. 3 (Leningrad, 1967), p. 279-92 [back]

  42. Tolstoi's words as recorded by Taneyev in his diary for 9/21 June 1895. See: S. I. Taneev, Dnevniki, 3 vols (Moscow, 1981-85), i, p. 114-15 [back]

  43. As recorded in Taneyev's diary for 2/14 June 1896. Ibid., p. 157 [back]

  44. Entry in Taneyev's diary for 7/19 September 1896. Ibid., p. 176-77. This dream is also cited by Alexander Poznansky in the epilogue to his biography of Tchaikovsky: Petr Chaikovskii. Biografiia, 2 vols (Saint Petersburg, 2009), ii, p. 579 [back]

  45. From a document in which Taneyev set down the goals of this new People's Conservatory (which lasted until 1916). Quoted in: G. Bernandt, S. I. Taneev (Moscow / Leningrad, 1950), p.196 [back]