Nikolai Myaskovsky

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950)

Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: April 20, 1881, Modlin, Poland Died: August 8, 1950, Moscow (age 69)

String Quartet No. 13 in a minor, Op. 86

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
7:11 I. Moderato
5:52 II. Presto fantastico
6:42 III. Andante con moto e molto cantabile
4:43 IV. Molto vivo energico
Duration: 24 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1949 (age 67-68)
Premiere: October 21, 1950. The Beethoven Quartet
5 recordings, 17 videos
autoopen autoplay
6:50
Taneyev String Quartet (?) (Score)
I. Moderato
6:01
Taneyev String Quartet (?) (Score)
II. Presto fantastico
6:51
Taneyev String Quartet (?) (Score)
III. Andante con moto e molto cantabile
4:35
Taneyev String Quartet (?) (Score)
IV. Molto vivo energico
6:54
Taneyev String Quartet
I. Moderato
6:03
Taneyev String Quartet
II. Presto fantastico
6:52
Taneyev String Quartet
III. Andante con moto e molto cantabile
4:31
Taneyev String Quartet
IV. Molto vivo energico
7:14
Borodin Quartet
I. Moderato
5:34
Borodin Quartet
II. Presto fantastico
5:57
Borodin Quartet
III. Andante con moto e molto cantabile
4:48
Borodin Quartet
IV. Molto vivo energico
8:05
Kopelman Quartet
I. Moderato
5:38
Kopelman Quartet
II. Presto fantastico
6:57
Kopelman Quartet
III. Andante con moto e molto cantabile
5:06
Kopelman Quartet
IV. Molto vivo energico
25:20
State Borodin Quartet
From Edition Silvertrust

Nikolai Myaskovsky

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950) has to be one of the most underrated composers of the 20th century. Most who come to his music for the first time are amazed that it is not better known. He wrote some 27 symphonies and 13 string quartets. String Quartet No.13 not only was his last such work it was his last work altogether. It was composed in 1949 at a time when the composer clearly new he was dying and hence it is in a way his musical testament. As one critic put it, "From the opening bars of the quartet and over the pulsing 8th notes in the viola and second violin, the cello brings forth a rising melody—it is like a prayer, humble and resigned, yet fervent. There is no mistaking that this is a masterpiece."

Myaskovsky was born in Congress (i.e. Russian) Poland near Warsaw, where his father, a military engineer was then serving. He took piano and violin lessons as a boy but followed in his father's footsteps, entering the military academy and graduating as an engineer. When he was posted to Moscow, he studied composition with Reinhold Gliere. Upon transfer to St. Petersburg, he finally decided to become a composer and entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Liadov. It was there he met Prokofiev with whom he became close friends. He served in WWI and was severely wounded on the Austrian front. After the war, he taught for most of his life at the Moscow Conservatory. Among his many students were Kabalevsky, Khachaturian, Shebalin and Shchedrin.

The lovely cello melody of opening movement, Moderato, in many ways sets the tone for the entire piece. There is passion and yet a valedictory mood of leave taking. It is very Russian in its romanticism. The second subject is a jaunty, angular dance-like tune which brightens the heavy mood of the opening. A third more reflective theme follows. The second movement, Presto fantastico, is a kind of disjointed scherzo in three parts. In the first section, the melody swirls about to endlessly varying rhythmical combinations. This is followed an episode in which the violin and then the cello launch into a jerky melody over an insistent 8th note accompaniment in the other voices. This is followed by a mysterious, delicate interlude. Next comes a slower movement, Andante con moto, which is in the form of an updated, simple romance, quiet and peaceful. From the opening measures of the finale, Molto vivo, energico, the main theme, which is dominated by its resolute and impulsive rhythm, bursts forth. Rather than a typical development, Myaskovsky forces this theme to alternative with a more mellow and lyrical section. With each repeat, they are slowly developed.

While we know the quartets of Shostakovich and Prokofiev, those of Myaskovsky are every bit as deserving of our attention. Here is another fine work which belongs in the concert hall and which should be of interest to professional groups everywhere, but which is well within the ability of amateurs.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Related Composers

1900 2000 WWI WWII Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914) Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881-1950) Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1963) Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987) Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) German Galynin (1922-1966) Rodion Shchedrin (born 1932)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Teacher
Nationality: Russian
Born: March 18, 1844, Tikhvin Died: June 21, 1908, Lyubensk (age 64)
Reinhold Glière (1875-1956)
Teacher
Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: January 11, 1875, Kiev Died: June 23, 1956, Moscow (age 81)
Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
Student
Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: December 30, 1904, St. Petersburg Died: February 18, 1987, Moscow (age 82)
Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
Student
Nationality: Armenian | Soviet
Born: June 6, 1903, Tbilisi Died: May 1, 1978, Moscow (age 74)
Vissarion Shebalin (1902-1963)
Student
Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: June 11, 1902, Omsk Died: May 29, 1963, Moscow (age 60)
Rodion Shchedrin (born 1932)
Student
Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: December 16, 1932, Moscow (age 88)
German Galynin (1922-1966)
Student
Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: March 30, 1922, Tula Died: July 18, 1966, Moscow (age 44)
Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914)
Teacher
Nationality: Russian
Born: May 12, 1855, St. Petersburg Died: August 18, 1914, Polïnovka (age 59)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Friend/Colleague
Nationality: Russian | Soviet | Ukrainian
Born: April 27, 1891, Sontsovka, Ukraine Died: March 5, 1953, Moscow (age 61)