Nicolay Yakovlevich Myaskovksy (1881-1950)



Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Nicolay Myaskovsky, focusing on the composer's childhood.

His father's army career impacted upon the young and reserved child, as did the extreme religious mania of his aunt, who lived with the family once Myaskovsky's mother died.

Featuring the Cello Concerto, Romantic in origin, which displays Myaskovsky's passion for Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, yet is one of the works denounced under the Stalin regime as 'formalist'.

There is also the final movement of his Symphony No 1, which started the composer off on his long career of symphonic writing.


St Petersburg Chamber Ensemble

Roland Melia (conductor)

ASV CD DCA 928 Tr 7

Her Picture (To a Portrait), Op 40 No 4 (1935-6)

Mary King (mezzo-soprano)

Andrew Ball (piano)

BBC Recording

Song-Idyll: Sonata No 8 in D minor, Op 83 (1949) - 2nd mvt

Murray McLachlan (piano)

Olympia OCD704 disc 3 Tr 3

Cello Concerto in C minor, Op 66 (1944)

Truls Mork (cello)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Paavo Jarvi (conductor)

Virgin Classics 5 45282 2 disc 1 Trs 4-5

Allegro assai e molto risoluto (Symphony No 1 in C minor, Op 3 (1908) - 3rd mvt

State Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation

Evgeny Svetlanov (conductor)

Warner 2564 69689-8 disc 1 Tr 3.

Donald Macleod explores Myaskovsky's childhood, marked by the religious mania of his aunt.


Donal Macleod surveys Myaskovsky's life at the St Petersburg Conservatory, under the tutelage of Rimsky-Korsakov, and Glazunov. He introduces part of the composer's String Quartet No 3, which includes a disguised snub at his tutor Lyadov, spelling out the theme 'Beware of Lyadov'.

Whilst at the Conservatoire, Myaskovsky met Prokofiev, who would become a lifelong friend and champion. After graduation, Myaskovsky established himself as a music critic, writing notable articles on composers such as Beethoven and Medtner.

The Moon and the Mist, Op 4 No 13 (1905)

Nicolai Gedda (tenor)

Erik Werba (piano)

EMI 5653522 Tr 16

Reminiscences, Op 29 (1927) - excerpts

Murray McLachlan (piano)

Olympia OCD704 disc 3 Trs 8-11

String Quartet No 3 in D minor, Op 33 (1930) - 1st mvt

Taneyev Quartet

Russian Disc RD CD 11 032 Tr 1

Alastor in C minor, Op 14 after Shelley (1912)

State Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation

Evgeny Svetlanov (conductor)

Warner 2564 69689-8 disc 16 Tr 10.

Donald Macleod explores Myaskovsky's time at the St Petersburg Conservatory.


Donald Macleod traces Myaskovsky's time serving as an army officer in the First World War, during which he composed his fourth and fifth symphonies. Shell shock, and the horrors of war would greatly influence Myaskovsky, who subsequently suffered a breakdown. His music from this point starts to incorporate aspects of political and social change in Soviet Russia, with his Fourth Piano sonata featuring angry clashes and dissonance.

During this period of change, Myaskovsky's father is torn to pieces by a revolutionary mob, and his aunt also later dies. Myaskovsky pours his feelings into his Sixth Symphony, combining French revolutionary themes with images of the migration of the soul from the body.

Romance (You are leaving for the wars), Op 40 No 8 (1935-6)

Mary King (mezzo-soprano)

Andrew Ball (piano)

BBC Recording

Symphony No 5 in D, Op 18 (1918) - 1st mvt

Russian Federation Academic Symphony Orchestra

Evgeny Svetlanov (conductor)

Olympia OCD735 Tr 1

Piano Sonata No 4 in C minor, Op 27 (1924-5) - 1st mvt

Murray McLachlan (piano)

Regis RRC1245 Tr 1

Symphony No 6 in E flat minor, Op 23 (1921-3) - 4th mvt

Gothenburg Symphony Chorus and Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi (conductor)

DG 4716552 Tr 4.

Donald Macleod explores the impact on Myaskovsky's music of the First World War.


Donald Macleod explores the turbulent times before the Second World War, with Stalin attacking cultural figures and organisations. The Moscow Conservatoire where Myaskovsky was professor of composition, was renamed the Felix Kon School of Higher Musical Education, with the likes of Myaskovsky himself, Gliere and Gnesin being dismissed. Reading the signs Myaskovsky composed music more in line with Stalin's wishes, such as his village concertos, the 'Collective Farm' symphony, and the 19th Symphony, composed for the popular Red Army Band.

Lyric Concertino for flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon, harp and string orchestra, Op 32 No 3 (1929) - 1st mvt

The Moscow New Opera Orchestra

Yevgeny Samoilov (conductor)

Olympia OCD528 Tr 7

Symphony No 12 in G minor, Op 35 (1931-2) - 3rd mvt

Russian Federation Academic Symphony Orchestra

Evgeny Svetlanov (conductor)

Olympia OCD735 Tr 7

Violin Concerto in D minor Op 44 (1938) - 2nd mvt

Vadim Repin (violin)

Kirov Orchestra

Valery Gergiev (conductor)

Philips 473343-2 Tr 5

Symphony No 19 in E flat for wind orchestra, Op 46 (1939) - 3rd, 4th mvts

Stockholm Concert Band

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Chandos CHAN9444 Trs 9-10

String Quartet No 5 in E minor, Op 47 (1938-9) - 4th mvt

Taneyev Quartet

Russian Disc RC CD 11 032 Tr 6.

Donald Macleod charts the beginning of persecution of Myaskovsky.

05 LAST*20090828

Donald Macleod discusses Myaskovsky's final years, when he not only suffered with stomach cancer, but also with bitterness and resentment induced by a second wave of persecution during Stalin's cultural attacks. Some of the composer's final works - the Second Cello Sonata, the 13th String Quartet and the 27th Symphony - each won him a Stalin Prize. Having asked Shostakovich whether his life's work was pointless, the composer died a few days later in 1950.

Sonata No 5 in B, Op 64 (1944) - 3rd mvt

Murray McLachan (piano)

Olympia OCD704 disc 2 Tr 9

Symphony No 21 in F sharp minor, Op 51 (1940) - excerpt

State Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation

Evgeny Svetlanov (conductor)

Warner 2564 69689-8 disc 14 Tr 1

Sonata No 2 in A minor for cello and piano, Op 81 (1948-9) - 2nd mvt

Yuli Turovsky (cello)

Luba Edlina (piano)

Chandos CHAN8523 Tr 6

String Quartet No 13 in A minor, Op 86 (1949) - 2nd, 3rd mvts

The Kopelman Quartet

Nimbus NI5827 Trs 2-3

Symphony No 27 in C minor, Op 85 (1949)

Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Valeri Polyansky (conductor)

Chandos CHAN10025 Tr 3.

Donald Macleod charts Myaskovsky's final, tragic years.