Vasily Kalinnikov

Biography

Born: January 13, 1866; Voin, Russia   Died: January 11, 1901; Yalta, Russia  
Like those of his Belgian contemporary Lekeu and his older countryman Mussorgsky, the story of Vasily Kalinnikov is a tragically short one in which a handful of works gives a tantalizing glimpse of what may have been.

Born is the village of Voin in the province of Orlov, Kalinnikov was the son of a cleric who also held the position of local police chief. The elder man was musically inclined, playing guitar and accordion as well as singing
Read more in the church choir. Young Vasily learned the latter instrument on his own and with the help of the village doctor, later adding the violin to his accomplishments. Further on he joined the church choir, learning the basics of music theory in the process and becoming the choir conductor at 14. Kalinnikov resolved to make music his career.

At 18 and with the most tenuous of financial resources, Kalinnikov set out for Moscow to study music at the conservatory, transferring to the Philharmonic Music School a half year later. While there, he bolstered his meager income by taking a course in bassoon, which resultantly enabled him to play in various orchestras as bassoonist, violinist, or timpanist. He also took on work as a music copyist.

Having graduated, Kalinnikov held various teaching posts and was assistant conductor at an opera company. However, the delayed effects of the strain of holding multiple positions during his student years undermined his health and he contracted tuberculosis. For this the composer traveled south, meeting Tchaikovsky in 1892. He received praise from the older man when he showed him the score of his own orchestral suite. This encouragement was a morale boost for the ailing young composer and he began work on his First Symphony in C minor. Completed in 1895, it was performed by the Russian Music Society in 1897. By that year, Kalinnikov had also completed his Second Symphony in A flat, this despite consumption of the throat compounding his health problems. The following year he completed the symphonic poem The Cedar and the Palm and received a commission to provide incidental music for a production of Tolstoy's Tsar Boris, for which he completed a substantial amount of music. But the young man's skein was running out and he succumbed to his illness on January 11, 1901, too frail to attend a performance of his Prologue to Boris.

In the centenary year of his birth recordings of the two symphonies led to the discovery of Kalinnikov by the public. While his premature passing is to be lamented, the small body of works which he left are very enjoyable exercises in late Russian Romanticism. Although these pieces are unmistakably Slavic in flavor, they seem to escape the brooding and gloom so omnipresent of his time and place in the arts, all the more curious given the external misery of his life. As such, Kalinnikov's work, especially the symphonies, are a happy if lesser known addition to the Russian orchestral literature. Read less
Browse 1-13 of 13 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Relaxation: Soothing Sounds of Classical Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578341 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Edvard Grieg,  Erik Satie,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Nora Shulman,  Judy Loman,  Takako Nishizaki,  Wolf Harden  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Breiner,  Jérôme Kaltenbach,  Alfred Walter,  Jorma Panula  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Nancy Lyric Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Strauss Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Label: Milan   Catalog: 36708 Release Date: 12/02/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Vasily Kalinnikov,  Hanan Townshend,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Brit Marling
    CD: $14.99
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  • 3.
    Great Russian Symphonies
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8501059 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Adrian Leaper,  Gerard Schwarz,  Antoni Wit,  Theodore Kuchar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Katowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    Kalinnikov: The Two Symphonies / Kees Bakels, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1155 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov
    Conductor:  Kees Bakels
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Kalinnikov: Symphony No 1; Glazunov: The Sea, Spring / Jarvi
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8611 Release Date: 01/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Glazunov,  Vasily Kalinnikov
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Kalinnikov: Symphony No 2, Tsar Boris Overture / Jarvi
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8805 Release Date: 01/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 7.
    The Anthology Of Russian Symphony Music: Vassily Kalinnikov & Alexander Scriabin
    Label: Nikolaeva-svetlanova   Catalog: 15 Release Date: 12/08/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov,  Alexander Scriabin
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 8.
    Live In Concert / United States Army Concert Band
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: ALT60922 Release Date: 02/19/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Philip Sparke,  C. Bryan Kidd,  Hector Berlioz,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Gary F. Lamb
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Army Concert Band
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  • 9.
    Golovanov Conducts Tchaikovsky And Kalinnikov
    Label: Boheme Music   Catalog: 2 Release Date: 06/27/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Nikolai S. Golovanov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $23.98
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  • 10.
    The Angel Cried / Korniev, St Petersburg Chamber Choir
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454461 Release Date: 11/11/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov,  Yuri S. Sakhnovsky,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Alexander Grechaninov  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolai Korniev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Chamber Choir
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  • 11.
    Kalinnikov: Symphonies No 1 & 2 / Järvi, Royal Scottish NO
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9546 Release Date: 04/22/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Kalinnikov: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 / Kuchar, Ukraine Nso
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8553417 Release Date: 09/19/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov
    Conductor:  Theodore Kuchar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $9.99
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  • 13.
    Kalinnikov: Tsar Boris, Etc / Janscovics, Budapest So
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 223135 Release Date: 12/17/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vasily Kalinnikov
    Conductor:  Antal Janscovics
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
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