Alexander Taneyev

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Alexander Taneyev in 1904

Alexander Sergeyevich Taneyev (Russian: Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Тане́ев, also transliterated as Taneiev, Tanaiev, Taneieff, and Taneyeff in English; January 17, 1850, Saint Petersburg – February 7, 1918, Petrograd) was a Russian state official and composer of the late Romantic era, specifically of the nationalist school. Among his better-known works were three string quartets, believed to have been composed between 1898–1900.

Alexander Taneyev is not well known outside Russia. His name is often confused with that of his distant cousin Sergei Taneyev (1856–1915).

A member of Russian aristocracy, Taneyev was a high-ranking state official, serving for 22 years as the head of His Imperial Majesty's Own Chancellery. His daughter Anna Vyrubova was a lady in waiting and best friend of Tsarina Alexandra. Vyrubova is best known for her friendship with the Romanov family and with the starets Grigori Rasputin.


Alexander Taneyev inherited an enthusiasm for music from his parents. He was dissuaded from pursuing a career as a musician due to his position in the Russian upper class. After studying at university, he entered the Russian civil service, succeeding his father as Director of the Imperial Chancellery. After 1900 he was the head of the folksong collection project of the Russian Geographical Society. Several of the songs collected during this period were later arranged and published by Anatoly Lyadov.

Taneyev pursued musical studies in Germany and later in Petersburg, where he became a student of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Taneyev's situation at this time bore similarities to that of fellow composer Alexander Borodin. Both were composers whose main occupation was not in music (Borodin was a chemistry professor; Taneyev held a bureaucratic post). It was rumored that Taneyev kept a score that he was working on hidden beneath official documents so that he might pen a few notes between appointments.

Taneyev's compositional output was large: two operas, four symphonies, several pieces for orchestra, numerous choral works, and a considerable amount of chamber music including three string quartets. The influence on his work of the other Russian composers, such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev and Lyadov, is often noted.

Selected works[edit]

Alexander Sergeyevich Taneyev. Courtesy: Beinecke Library.
  • Cupid's Revenge (Месть Амура), opera, Op. 13 (1899); libretto by Tatyana Lvovna Shchepkina-Kupernik
  • The Blizzard (Метель), opera in 2 acts, 4 scenes (1914); libretto by V. Svetlov after poems of D. Tsertelev
  • Suite No. 1, Op. 9
  • Festive March (Торжественный марш), Op. 12
  • Suite No. 2 in F major, Op. 14
  1. Theme with Variations
  2. Menuetto. Tranquillo
  3. Andantino
  4. Finale. Allegro con spirito
  • Symphony No. 2 in B minor, Op. 21 (1903)
  1. Andante - Allegro
  2. Scherzo
  3. Adagio mosso
  4. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo
  • Hamlet, Overture, Op. 31 (pub. 1906)[1]
  • Rêverie for violin and orchestra, Op. 23
Chamber music
  • Petite valse for violin and piano
  • Bagatelle and Serenade for cello and piano, Op.10
  • Arabesque for clarinet and piano, Op. 24
  • String Quartet No. 1 in G major, Op. 25
  • String Quartet No. 2 in C major, Op. 28
  • String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 30
  • Album Leaf (Листок из альбома) in G major for viola and piano, Op. 33
  • Valse-caprice in A major
  • Valse-caprice in D major
  • Mazurka No. 1, Op. 15
  • Mazurka No. 3 "Souvenir de Bade", Op. 20
  • Bluette, Op. 22

Personal life[edit]

Taneyev married Nadezhda Illarionovna Tolstoy (1860-1937). They had three children: Anna Vyrubova (1884-1964); Sergei Alexandrovich (1886-1975); and Alexandra Alexandrovna (1888-1968), who married Alexander Erikovich von Pistohlkors, the stepson of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia.


  1. ^ "Hofmeisters Monatsberichte". March 1906. p. 105. Retrieved April 2, 2011.


  • Edward Garden: "Aleksandr Taneyev", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed May 21, 2005), (subscription access)
  • Some of the information in this article appears on the website of Edition Silvertrust but permission to use this text under the GNU Free Documentation License has been given, and this documentation provided to Wikipedia.

External links[edit]