Alexander Sheremetiev

Biography

Born: 1859; St. Petersburg, Russia   Died: 1931; Paris, France  
Count Alexander Dmitrievitch Sheremetiev, whose name is transliterated a variety of ways (Sheremetyev, Cheremetieff, etc.) was born in 1859 and was the last fully noble Russian Count of the Sheremetiev bloodline. Sheremetiev was a direct descendant of Boris Sheremetev, who fought alongside Peter the Great in the Great Northern War, and Sheremetiev's father served as chamberlain to Tsar Alexander II. On the occasion of his marriage in 1883, Read more Sheremetiev purchased a building located at No. 4 Kutuzova Embankment in St. Petersburg. Sheremetiev was a Major General to the Tsar in peacetime and used his position and privilege to mount the first firefighting companies in Russia. Sheremetiev was also a very talented composer and choral director, who served as the leader of the chorus attached to the Russian Court. He ultimately formed his own private orchestra and chorus, which played public concerts at his estate in St. Petersburg; the quality of the orchestra is said to have been superior to that belonging to the Conservatory of St. Petersburg itself, although many of its musicians played in both orchestras. Tickets to concerts at Sheremetiev's palace were kept at low cost, and Sheremetiev viewed his musical activities as a kind of public service, donating the proceeds from concerts to churches and folk music groups. After decades of operation, Sheremetiev's music-making came to an abrupt end in 1917 when the Russian Revolution forced him and his family to flee to Paris. He died in 1931.

Very little of Sheremetiev's music is accounted for, but it is of such high quality that the little of it that has survived suggests the technical refinement of a composer who wrote music often and well. His chorus Nine sili nebesniye (Rejoice Now Heavenly Powers) is a standard piece among Russian Orthodox choirs, and a recording of the work by Chorovaya Akademia became a low-level public radio "hit" when included on the popular BMG compilation Ancient Voices in 1995. After his departure from Russia, his estate housed various political operations belonging to the Soviet state until 1932 when it was established as the headquarters of the Leningrad Writer's Union. Fire broke out in the palace in 1993 and it became the subject of an international restoration effort, the baseline work being completed over the next decade. One of Sheremetiev's descendants, Pierre Cheremetieff, serves as head of the Russian Rachmaninoff Conservatory in Paris, and it was he who opened the door to the gallery of Sheremetiev Palace in 2003 for the first public concert held there in more than 85 years. Read less

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