The Russian composer and pianist Anton Grigoryevich Rubinstein was born at Vikhvatinets on 28 November 1829 and died near St Petersburg on 20 November 1894. After Franz Liszt, he was considered the greatest pianist of the nineteenth century. A child prodigy, and widely travelled throughout Europe, Rubinstein had a great influence on Russian musical life, founding the St Petersburg Conservatory (where Tchaikovsky, a friend of Anton's brother - Nikolay Rubinstein - was among his students) and the Russian Musical Society.
Music historians remain critical of Rubinstein's compositions, for melodies that are pleasant but often lacking in originality. The composers of the St Petersburg School (especially Balakirev, who thought Rubinstein had a bad influence on Russian music) ganged up against him, and insults flew in both directions. With his German-Jewish origins, Rubinstein was poised somehow between East and West, writing, in his Gedankenkorb (confessions), that 'for Christians, I am a Jew, for Jews, I am a Christian; for the Germans, I am Russian, for the Russians, I am German; for the classically minded, I am avant-garde, for the avant-garde, I am reactionary'.
A selection of M&V articles about Anton Rubinstein
CD Spotlight. Beautifully Realized - Richard Harwood's EMI debut, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Harwood never once strives for effect ...'
CD Spotlight. Striking Power - Leslie Howard plays Rachmaninov, heard by Howard Smith. '... a staggering technique.'
Imaginative Heights - Gordon Rumson looks forward to the Calgary Art Song Competition
CD Spotlight. An Audacious Performer - A recital by Mikhail Zemtsov, reviewed by Howard Smith
CD Spotlight. Fire and brimstone? - Fabio Grasso plays Rubinstein, and Gordon Rumson raises some serious issues. '... great elan and vibrancy.'