Kastalsky was born in Moscow to protoiereus Dmitri Ivanovich Kastalsky (1820–1891). He studied music theory, composition and the piano at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1887 he started teaching piano at Moscow Synodal School, and in 1891 became assistant precentor of the Moscow Synodal Choir. He was director of both from 1910–1918 until the school was dissolved and merged with the choral faculty of the Conservatory, and the choir was forced to move from sacred to folk repertory.
He wrote his first choral works in 1896. Up to 1917 he wrote over 130 works and established himself as an important composer of the neo-Russian style with an influence on choral composers such as Sergei Rachmaninov, Victor Kalinnikov, Alexander Grechaninov and Pavel Chesnokov.
After the 1917 Revolution, he devoted himself to the study of folksongs. This resulted in many choral works from which the most important are The Village Symphony (1923) and Rural Work in Folksongs (1924).
- Scenes of Folk Festivals in Old Russia (1913)
- Memory Eternal to the Fallen Heroes (вечная память героям 1917)
- Properties of the Russian Folk Music System ("Особенности народно-русской музыкальной системы"), 1923
- Principles of Folk Polyphony ("Основы народного многоголосия"), 1948 (ed. V.M.Belyaev)
- Pieter C. van den Toorn, John McGinness Stravinsky and the Russian Period: Sound and Legacy of a Musical Idiom- 2012 - 1107021006 Among these, Scenes of Folk Festivals in Old Russia (1913) by the folk music specialist Alexander Kastalsky had sought to recreate folk ritual based on ethnographic description and field-collected folk song.
- Svetlana Zvereva. "Kastal'sky, Aleksandr Dmitriyevich". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
- Free scores by Alexander Kastalsky in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- Free scores by Alexander Kastalsky at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
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