Rubinstein, Anton Biography
Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein (Анто́н Григо́рьевич Рубинште́йн) (November 28, 1829 – November 20, 1894) was a Russian pianist, composer and conductor. As a pianist, he was regarded as a rival to Franz Liszt and has been described by historians as one of the greatest virtuosos in history.
Rubinstein was born in Vikhvatinets. He learned the piano from an early age, and made his first public appearance at the age of nine. He was taken to Paris, and then to Berlin, where he studied composition. He then moved to Vienna, where he briefly taught, before returning to Russia in 1848 where he worked as a musician to the sister-in-law of the Tsar.
He began to tour again as a pianist in the late 1850s, before settling in St. Petersburg, where in 1862 he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the first music school in Russia. He took a teaching post there, instructing Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky amongst others. He also continued to make tours as a pianist, and spent a short stint teaching in Dresden towards the end of his life.
Rubinstein was a prolific composer, writing no less than twenty operas (notably Demon, written after one of Lermontov's Romantic poems), five piano concertos, six symphonies and a large number of solo piano works along with a substantial output of works for chamber ensemble, two concertos for cello and one for violin, free-standing orchestral works and tone poems (including one entitled Don Quixote).
Rubinstein was quite a widely performed composer in his lifetime, but following his death, his works were largely ignored. It has been suggested that this may be due to the fact that he was a Jew, and anti-semitism was very prevalent in Germany, the musical hub of Europe, at that time. It has also been suggested that he suffered because he did not belong to any particular music 'camp': his music demonstrates none of the nationalism of The Five, and in fact he spoke out against Russian nationalism, leading to arguments with Mily Balakirev. He was also not much influenced by Richard Wagner, whose work was held in very high regard at the end of the 19th century. His music is more often compared to Frederic Chopin and Robert Schumann, who were both seen as somewhat old-fashioned at the time of Rubinstein's death.
Towards the end of the 20th century, his work has been performed a little more often, and has often met with positive criticism. Rubinstein's pieces remain somewhat obscure for the time being, however. Amongst his slightly better known works as the opera The Demon, his Piano Concerto No. 4, and his Symphony No. 2, known as The Ocean.
This biography is published under the GNU Licence
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