The Russian composer, pianist, teacher and writer Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev was born at Vladimir on 25 November 1856 into a Russian noble family. He studied piano from the age of five, and at nine he entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying piano with Edward Langer and later Nikolai Rubinstein, theory with Nikola Hubert and composition with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Tchaikovsky and Taneyev became friends, and Taneyev was the soloist in the first Moscow performance of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1 in 1875, and later gave the Russian premiere of the same composer's second piano concerto. After Tchaikovsky's death, Taneyev completed and performed the Piano Concerto No 3 and the Andante and Finale.
Taneyev taught at the Moscow Conservatory, initially harmony, and later piano and composition. As a composition teacher, he influenced Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninov, Reinhold Gliere and Nikolai Medtner.
Of his own music, which includes eleven string quartets (of which two are unfinished) and much chamber music, Taneyev regarded the opera Oresteia as his major achievement. Rimsky-Korsakov, who thought much of Taneyev's music dry and laboured, was also impressed with Oresteia.
Taneyev died at Dyudkovo on 19 June 1915.
A selection of M&V articles about Sergei Taneyev
CD Spotlight. Impelling Drama - Arensky and Taneyev for violin and orchestra, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... Gringolts shows both purity of line and precise, mercurial bravura.'
CD Spotlight. Beautiful Tone - Glazunov and Taneyev String Quintets, enjoyed by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... the Gringolts ensemble plays expertly, projecting the music's sense of "symphonic" weight and importance while maintaining the vivid interplay among the parts.'
CD Spotlight. A Rich Culture - Russian music from SWR Vokalensemble, appreciated by Howard Smith. '... a gift for those eager to hear voices in chorus ...'
Ensemble. A Notable Evening - Music by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Taneyev, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
CD Spotlight. Fascinating Rarities - Taneyev string trios, heard by Julian Jacobson. '... a performance of real commitment and assurance ...'
CD Spotlight. An Intellectual Force - Piano music by Sergei Taneyev, reviewed by Ron Bierman. 'Performances are expert and loving throughout ...'