Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov The best-known student under his tenure during the early Soviet years was Dmitri Shostakovich.
Glazunov was significant in that he successfully reconciled nationalism and cosmopolitanism in Russian music. While he was the direct successor to Balakirev's nationalism, he tended more towards Borodin's epic grandeur while absorbing a number of other influences. These included Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral virtuosity, Tchaikovsky's lyricism and Taneyev's contrapuntal skill. Younger composers such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich eventually considered his music old-fashioned while also admitting he remained a composer with an imposing reputation and a stabilizing influence in a time of transition and turmoil.
Glazunov was born in Saint Petersburg, the son of a wealthy publisher. He began studying piano at the age of nine and began composing at 11. Mily Balakirev, former leader of the nationalist group "The Five", recognized Glazunov's talent and brought his work to the attention of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. "Casually Balakirev once brought me the composition of a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old high-school student, Alexander Glazunov", Rimsky-Korsakov remembered. "It was an orchestral score written in childish fashion. The boy's talent was indubitably clear." Balakirev introduced him to Rimsky-Korsakov shortly afterwards, in December 1879. Rimsky-Korsakov premiered this work in 1882, when Glazunov was 16. Borodin and Stasov, among others, lavishly praised both the work and its composer.
Rimsky-Korsakov taught Glazunov as a private student. (he left a ninth unfinished at his death).
Mentored by Belyayev
More important than this praise was that among the work's admirers was a wealthy timber merchant and amateur musician, Mitrofan Belyayev. Belyayev was introduced to Glazunov's music by Anatoly Lyadov
Also in 1884, Belyayev rented out a hall and hired an orchestra to play Glazunov's First Symphony plus an orchestral suite Glazunov had just composed.
In 1885 Belyayev started his own publishing house in Leipzig, Germany, initially publishing music by Glazunov, Lyadov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin at his own expense. Young composers started appealing for his help. To help select from their offerings, Belyayev asked Glazunov to serve with Rimsky-Korsakov and Lyadov on an advisory council.
Glazunov soon enjoyed international acclaim. He had a creative crisis in 1890–1891. He came out of this period with a new maturity. During the 1890s he wrote three symphonies, two string quartets and a ballet. When he was elected director of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1905, he was at the height of his creative powers. His best works from this period are considered his Eighth Symphony and his Violin Concerto. This was also the time of his greatest international acclaim. He conducted the last of the Russian Historical Concerts in Paris on 17 May 1907, and received honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. There were also cycles of all-Glazunov concerts in Saint Petersburg and Moscow to celebrate his 25th anniversary as a composer.
Glazunov made his conducting debut in 1888. The following year, he conducted his Second Symphony in Paris at the World Exhibition.
Drunk or not, Glazunov had insufficient rehearsal time with the symphony and, while he loved the art of conducting, he never fully mastered it.
Despite the hardships he suffered during World War I and the ensuing Russian Civil War, Glazunov remained active as a conductor. He conducted concerts in factories, clubs and Red Army posts. He played a prominent part in the Russian observation in 1927 of the centenary of Beethoven's death, as both speaker and conductor. After he left Russia, he conducted an evening of his works in Paris in 1928. This was followed by engagements in Portugal, Spain, France, England, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United States.
In 1899, Glazunov became a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In the wake of the 1905 Russian Revolution and firing, then re-hiring of Rimsky-Korsakov that year, Glazunov became its director. He remained so until the revolutionary events of 1917, which culminated on 7 November. His Piano Concerto No. 2 in B major, Op. 100, which he conducted, was premiered at the first concert held in Petrograd after that date.
Glazunov showed paternal concern for the welfare of needy students, such as Dmitri Shostakovich and Nathan Milstein. He also personally examined hundreds of students at the end of each academic year, writing brief comments on each.
While Glazunov's sobriety could be questioned, his prestige could not. Because of his reputation, the Conservatory received special status among institutions of higher learning in the aftermath of the October Revolution. Glazunov established a sound working relationship with the Bolshevik regime, especially with Anatoly Lunacharsky, the minister of education. Nevertheless, Glazunov's conservatism was attacked within the Conservatory. Increasingly, professors demanded more progressive methods, and students wanted greater rights. Glazunov saw these demands as both destructive and unjust. Tired of the Conservatory, he took advantage of the opportunity to go abroad in 1928 for the Schubert centenary celebrations in Vienna. He did not return. Maximilian Steinberg ran the Conservatory in his absence until Glazunov finally resigned in 1930.
Glazunov toured Europe and the United States in 1928,
In 1929, at age 64, Glazunov married the 54-year-old Olga Nikolayevna Gavrilova (1875–1968).
Glazunov died in Neuilly-sur-Seine (near Paris) at the age of 70 in 1936. The announcement of his death shocked many. They had long associated Glazunov with the music of the past rather than of the present, so they thought he had already been dead for many years.
In 1972 his remains were reinterred in Leningrad.