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Anatoly Lyadov

Anatoly Konstantinovich Lyadov (12 May 1855 – 28 August [O.S. 15 August] 1914) was a Russian composer, teacher and conductor.

Lyadov was born in 1855 in St. Petersburg, into a family of eminent Russian musicians. He was taught informally by his conductor step-father Konstantin Lyadov from 1860 to 1868, and then in 1870 entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study piano and violin.

He soon gave up instrumental study to concentrate on counterpoint and fugue, although he remained a fine pianist. His natural musical talent was highly thought of by, among others, Modest Mussorgsky, and during the 1870s he became associated with the group of composers known as The Mighty Handful. He entered the composition classes of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but was expelled for absenteeism in 1876. In 1878 he was readmitted to these classes to help him complete his graduation composition.

While Lyadov's technical facility was highly regarded by his contemporaries, his unreliability stood in the way of his advancement. His published compositions are relatively few due to his natural indolence and a certain self-critical lack of confidence. Many of his works are variations on or arrangements of pre-existing material (for example his Russian Folksongs, Op. 58). He did compose a large number of piano miniatures, of which his Musical Snuffbox of 1893 is perhaps most famous.

Like many of his contemporaries, Lyadov was drawn to intensely Russian subjects. Much of his music is programmatic; for example his tone poems Baba Yaga Op. 56, Kikimora Op. 63, The Enchanted Lake Op. 62. ( inspired by the painting by Arseny Meshchersky "The Enchanted Lake) These short tone poems, probably his most popular works, exhibit an exceptional flair for orchestral tone color. In his later compositions he experimented with extended tonality, like his younger contemporary Alexander Scriabin.

It has been argued that Lyadov never completed a large-scale work. However, many of his miniatures have their place in the repertory. In 1905 Lyadov began work on a new ballet score, but when the work failed to progress, he shifted gears to work on an opera instead. Lyadov never finished the opera, but sections of the work found realization in the short tone poems Kikimora and The Enchanted Lake.

He married into money in 1884, acquiring through his marriage a country property in Polynovka estate, Borovichevsky uezd, Novgorod Governorate, where he spent his summers composing unhurriedly, and where he died in 1914

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