Since childhood, Alexander Alyabyev was fond of music, took piano lessons and studied composition. He wrote romances based on lyrics by famous poets and vocal miniatures, works for orchestra and operas for the theatres. Alyabyev survived the Siberian exile; however, he was engaged in music there as well.
Alyabyev was born on August 15, 1787 in Tobolsk in the family of a civil governor. The Alyabyevs' house was musical, both his parents and guests - exiles, who were patronized by the father of the future composer, played the piano there. In 1796, the family moved to St. Petersburg, where his father received a position in the Berg Collegium - the Mining Department, and Alexander Alyabyev took music lessons from Johann Heinrich Miller. A few years later, he moved to Moscow, where he entered a boarding school at Moscow University and began to study composition.
After the formal service, to which he was enrolled as an "ignoramus of the nobility" at the age of 14, Alexander Alyabyev began his active duty. He combined his work in the Moscow Berg-office with musical studies. In 1810, the first works by Alyabyev were published - romance and waltzes.
When World War II began, Alexander Alyabyev was enrolled in a Cossack regiment and sent to Ukraine. There he met Denis Davydov and entered his partisan detachment, and then was sent to the Irkutsk hussar regiment, which was then stationed in the Belarusian Kobryn. There he became friends with Alexander Griboyedov and Nikolai Tolstoy, the father of Leo Tolstoy.
While being enlisted in military service, Alexander Alyabyev received two Orders of St. Anne of the third degree, the Order of St. Vladimir of the fourth degree, the medal "In memory of the Patriotic War of 1812". Relatives noted that he was "a decent and brave officer". The service continued after the victory over Napoleon. In his spare time, Alyabyev composed a string quartet, a piano trio and a quintet, many romances, among which was an elegy to Pushkin's poem "The diurnal star has gone out".
On February 12, 1822 the premiere of Nikolai Khmelnitsky's vaudeville with music by Alyabyev, Ludwig Wilhelm Maurer and Alexei Verstovsky "A New Prank, or Theatrical Battle" took place at the Theater in St. Petersburg. Alyabyev made his debut as a theatrical composer. In January 1823, the opera-vaudeville "The Village Philosopher" was staged at the theater on Mokhovaya, and in June - with the week difference – both in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the premiere of the opera " Moonlit Night, or the House Spirits" by Alyabyev took place and was a great success. Vladimir Odoevsky later wrote, "The operas by Alyabyev operas are no worse than French comic operas". In the meantime, the composer became more and more burdened by military service. He submitted a letter of resignation, and at the end of 1823, an order was issued to dismiss him. Alyabyev settled in Moscow. He participated in musical evenings that took place in the house of Maria Ivanovna Rimskaya-Korsakova. Later, her youngest daughter Catherine became the composer's wife.
In 1825, the music by Alyabyev music was performed at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater. For the opening of the new theater building, Mikhail Dmitriev wrote the poetic prologue "Celebration of Muses". Friedrich (Fedor) Scholz, Alexey Verstovsky and Alexander Alyabyev composed music for it.
However, not only musical evenings and theatrical premieres were in the life of Alyabyev, but gambling as well.
In February 1825, the composer was arrested. The guests played cards in his house and there a quarrel happened. One of those who were involved in the conflict died of apoplectic stroke three days later. Moreover, a witness told the police that Alexander Alyabyev hit the deceased. There was no other evidence or similar testimony, hence the composer ended up in a prison cell. Even there, he continued to write music that sounded on theatrical stages. While the trial was dragging on, Alyabyev composed several opera-vaudevilles, the song "The Nightingale", a vocal miniature to the verses by Anton Delvig.
On December 1, 1827, the State Council passed a guilty verdict - Alexander Alyabyev was stripped of his noble rank, awards and exiled to Siberia. In February, he arrived in Tobolsk and entered under the supervision of the Western Siberia Governor, Ivan Velyaminov. Velyaminov allowed the composer to be engaged in music and composition. The same year, the "Cossack Music" orchestra was transferred to Tobolsk from Omsk. Alyabyev took him under his wing. They rehearsed a lot, and the band became a full-fledged symphony orchestra that played at the dancing parties and performed at the concerts.
Thanks to the efforts of Velyaminov and his relatives, in 1832 Alyabyev managed to leave for the Caucasus - to treat his eyes. Of course, he was also under "strict supervision" there. Alyabyev became interested in Caucasian folklore. The composer wrote romances inspired by Kabardian, Circassian, Georgian melodies. They were included in the collection "Caucasian Singer". At the same time, Alyabyev began to work on the music for the Caucasian story of Bestuzhev-Marlinsky "Ammalat-Bek". Later, this work became the basis for the opera.
In 1833, the composer was allowed to settle in Orenburg, where he was under the protectorship of Governor-General Vasily Perovsky, a participant in the Patriotic War and art connoisseur. Risking his own career, Perovsky sought permission for the exiled to live in the Moscow province, in the estate of his relatives.
Alexander Alyabyev continued to compose a lot. In 1838, he wrote the music for Pushkin's "Mermaid" - this work was inspired by the impressions of the poet’s death. The play was presented on the stage of the Moscow Bolshoi Theater. The initials “A.A.” were indicated on the playbill instead of the composer’s name.
In 1843, after countless requests, Alyabyev was finally allowed to live in Moscow. The title of nobility was not returned to him.
In Moscow, the composer became a permanent participant of “Thursdays” in the house of Alexander Veltman, a linguist, poet, and archaeologist. Famous writers, musicians and scientists gathered at these evenings. Alyabyev devoted a lot of time to choral creative work - he wrote and prepared for publication "Collection of Various Russian Songs" for the choir. It included miniatures on poems by Alexander Pushkin, Anton Delvig, Vasily Zhukovsky, Nikolai Karamzin and other poets. However, the collection was published only in 1952.
Alexander Alyabyev died in 1851. He was buried in the family tomb in the Simonov Monastery. However, during the years of the Soviet power, the monastery was destroyed - and the graves of the composer and his relatives were wiped out as well.