Anton Rubinstein is one of the pivotal figures in the musical life of Russia of the second half of the 19th century. He was a genius pianist, the foremost orchestrator of musical life and composer, who worked in different genres and created a number of excellent works, retaining their significance to our days.
Many sources and facts bear evidence of the place, which еthe personality of Rubinstein and activities occupy in Russian culture. Vasiliy Perov, Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Mikhail Vrubel portrayed him. Many poems are dedicated to Rubinstein. He is mentioned in the correspondence between Alexander Herzen and Nikolay Ogarev. Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev spoke of him with admiration.
It is impossible to understand and appreciate Rubinstein as the composer in isolation from other aspects of his activities and the peculiarities of his biography. He started concerting together with his music tutor Alexander Villoing similar with many infant phenomenon of the mid-19th century. They undertook a concert tour in the major European cities in 1840-1843. However, after his father was bankrupted and died, his younger brother Nikolai with mother left Berlin, where the boys were studying the theory of composition with Siegfried Dehn, and returned to Moscow. Anton gained full independence. He moved to Vienna and since that time, his career was thrown upon his own resources. Hard working nature, independence and staunchness, proud artistic identity, democracy of the professional musician, for whom the art was the only source of material existence, all these features remained characteristic of the musician until his days.
Rubinstein was the first Russian musician whose fame was worldwide. He concerted in all European countries and in the USA. He included his own compositions in the programs or conducted his orchestral pieces. Moreover, Rubinstein’s music was constantly performed in the European countries. Franz Liszt conducted the opera The Siberian Hunters by Rubinstein in Weimar in 1854. A few years later, in the same town he conducted the oratorio Lost Paradise by Rubinstein. Nevertheless, the main application of the diversified talent and truly enormous energy of Rubinstein were applied in Russia. He was the initiator and one of the founders of the Russian Musical Society - the leading concert organization that contributed to the development of the routine concert life and music education in the Russian towns. The first Russian Conservatory in St. Petersburg was established upon his initiative. Rubinstein became its director. Pyotr Tchaikovsky was among his first graduates. All directions and kinds of Rubinstein’s creative activity, as well as his composing practice, were united by the idea of enlightenment.
Artistic heritage of Rubinstein is vast. He was probably the most exuberant composer of the second half of the 19th century. He wrote 13 operas and 4 ecclesiastical opera-oratorios, 6 symphonies and about 10 other compositions for the orchestra, about 20 works for consort music ensembles. The number of piano pieces exceeds 200; about 180 romances, pieces for vocal ensembles were created on the texts of Russian, German, Serbian, and other poets ... Some of these works presented historical interest only. Far too many compositions, the speed of the composing process interfered with quality and completeness of musical pieces.
However, there are remarkable works in Anton Rubinstein’s legacy. They reflect his talented powerful personality, sensitive ear for music, generous melodic talent, and composing proficiency. The composer was especially successful in figuring oriental musical images. Many critics who took Rubinstein’s work negatively, there were some rather influential ones among them, such as César Cui. Nevertheless, even they admitted artistic achievements of the composer in the oriental thematic.
Among the best oriental objectification of Rubinstein were the opera Demon and Persian Songs. The genre of the Russian lyric opera was originated in Demon. Before long, it was embodied in Eugene Onegin. The potation to reflect the inward man and a contemporary psychology was the tendency global art culture. Rubinstein's music conveyed this via the operatic incredible tone delicacy. The audience of that time identified itself the restless, unsatisfied, striving for happiness and getting nowhere Demon. Such identification took place in the Russian Opera for the first time. Thus, the best opera of Anton Rubinstein mirrored the time of its creation. It and continues to maintain the exciting interest for us. The romances written by the composer live and sound as well in our days - “Night” - “My voice is tender and gentle for you” - these words by Alexander Pushkin set by the composer to this early piano piece – Romance in F major), and Epithalamium from the opera Nero, and the Fourth Concert for Piano and Orchestra (Piano Concerto No. 4….
Adapted from Belcanto.ru