Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev was a Russian composer, pianist, teacher of composition, music theorist and author.


Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev (Russian: Серге́й Ива́нович Тане́ев, Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev, pronounced [sʲɪˈrɡej ɪˈvanəvʲɪtɕ tɐˈnʲejɪf]; November 25 [O.S. November 13] 1856 – June 19 [O.S. June 6] 1915) was a Russian composer, pianist, teacher of composition, music theorist and author.


Taneyev was born in Vladimir, Vladimir Governorate, Russian Empire, to a cultured and literary family of Russian nobility. A distant cousin, Alexander Taneyev, was also a composer, whose daughter, Anna Vyrubova, was highly influential at court. Alexander was drawn closely to the nationalist school of music exemplified by The Five, while Sergei would gravitate toward a more cosmopolitan outlook, as did Tchaikovsky.

He began taking piano lessons at age five with a private teacher. His family moved to Moscow in 1865. The following year, the nine-year-old Taneyev entered the Moscow Conservatory. His first piano teacher at the Conservatory was Edward Langer. After a year's interruption in his studies, Taneyev studied again with Langer. He also joined the theory class of Nikolai Hubert and, most importantly, the composition class of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In 1871, Taneyev studied piano with the Conservatory's founder, Nikolai Rubinstein.

Taneyev graduated in 1875, the first student in the history of the Conservatory to win the gold medal both for composition and for performing (piano). He was also the first person ever to be awarded the Conservatory's Great Gold Medal; the second was Arseny Koreshchenko and the third was Sergei Rachmaninoff. That summer he travelled abroad with Rubinstein. That year he also made his debut as a concert pianist in Moscow playing Brahms's First Piano Concerto, and would become known for his interpretations of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. In March 1876 he toured Russia with violinist Leopold Auer.

Taneyev was also the soloist in the Moscow première of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto in December 1875. He was chosen after Gustav Kross had given a dreadful performance at the concerto's Russian premiere in St Petersburg three weeks earlier. The conductor on this later occasion was none other than Nikolai Rubinstein, who had famously lambasted the work less than a year earlier (5 January), but who had by now come to appreciate its merits. Tchaikovsky was clearly much more impressed by Taneyev's performance; he later asked Taneyev to be soloist in the Russian premiere of his Second Piano Concerto and of his Piano Trio in A minor. After Tchaikovsky's death, Taneyev edited sketches by Tchaikovsky that he completed with an Andante and Finale and premiered as a Tchaikovsky Third Piano Concerto.)

Taneyev attended Moscow University for a short time and was acquainted with outstanding Russian writers, including Ivan Turgenev and Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin. During his travels in Western Europe in 1876 and 1877, he met Émile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, César Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns, amongst others.

When Tchaikovsky resigned from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878, Taneyev was appointed to teach harmony. He would later also teach piano and composition. He served as Director from 1885 to 1889, and continued teaching until 1905. He had great influence as a teacher of composition. His pupils included Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jacob Weinberg, Reinhold Glière, Paul Juon, Julius Conus, and Nikolai Medtner. The polyphonic interweaves in the music of Rachmaninoff and Medtner stem directly from Taneyev's teaching. Scriabin, on the other hand, broke away from Taneyev's influence.

Taneyev was also a scholar of notable erudition. In addition to music, he studied—for relaxation—natural and social science, history, mathematics, plus the philosophies of Plato and Spinoza.

During the summers of 1895 and 1896, Taneyev stayed at Yasnaya Polyana, the home of Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sofia. She developed an attachment to the composer that embarrassed her children and made Tolstoy jealous, though Taneyev himself remained unaware of it. However, this also released her from the distress of the isolation she experienced when Tolstoy grew distant from family concerns and devoted himself to the Christian anarchist-pacifism which shaped his last years. Sofia's infatuation with Taneyev and his music echoes the story of Tolstoy's great and penetrating dissection of marital relations in The Kreutzer Sonata.

In 1905, the revolution and its consequent effect on the Moscow Conservatory led Taneyev to resign from the staff there. He resumed his career as a concert pianist, both as soloist and chamber musician. He was also able to pursue composition more intensely, completing chamber works with a piano part which he could play in concerts as well as some choruses and a substantial number of songs. His last completed work was the cantata At the Reading of a Psalm, completed at the beginning of 1915.

Taneyev contracted pneumonia after attending the funeral of Scriabin, in Moscow, on 16 April 1915. While he was recovering, he succumbed to a heart attack in Dyudkovo, near Zvenigorod.

A museum dedicated to Taneyev is located in Dyudkovo. There is also a section dedicated to Taneyev at the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin.

Info: Russian composer
Index: 7.7
Type: Person Male
Period: 1856.11.25 - 1915.6.19
Age: aged 58
Area :Russia
Occupation :Composer
Periods :Romantic Music


Update Time:2019-01-07 00:42 / 5 years, 3 months ago.