Tchaikovsky and the Belyayev circle

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's relations with the Belyayev circle, which lasted from 1887 until Tchaikovsky's death, influenced all of their music and briefly helped shape the next generation of Russian composers. This group was named after timber merchant Mitrofan Belyayev, an influential music patron and publisher. By 1887, Tchaikovsky was firmly established as one of the leading composers in Russia. A favorite of Tsar Alexander III, he was widely regarded as a national treasure. As a result of the time Tchaikovsky spent with the Belyayev circle's leading composers—Alexander Glazunov, Anatoly Lyadov and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov—the somewhat fraught relationship he had previously endured with The Five would eventually meld into something more harmonious. Over the long term, though, Tchaikovsky's influence over the Belyayev composers was not as great as his influence on The Five. They continued writing overall in a style more akin to Rimsky-Korsakov than to Tchaikovsky, falling back stylistically on their predecessors instead of developing their own individual voices. Even Glazunov backed away from echoing Tchaikovsky strongly in his mature work, instead amalgamating nationalistic and cosmopolitan styles in an eclectic approach. The Belyayev composers also spread the nationalist musical aesthetic to Russia on the whole and were themselves an influence on composers well into the Soviet era. (more...)

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