Composer, Musicologist, Pianist and Teacher
Slonimsky was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg today) on August 12, 1932 into the family of the Russian writer Mikhail Slonimsky, an exponent of the Silver Age period of Russian literature. The artistic predilection of his father and the rich cultural life of Leningrad enduringly influenced the development of Sergei Slonimsky as an artist.
Sergei Slonimsky received private instruction in composition at a young age from V. Schebalin und Prof. B. Arapov. From 1950 to 1955 Slonimsky studied composition and piano at the conservatory in his hometown and completed his doctorate in musicology there in 1958 under T. Ter-Martirosjan. Already during the following year, Slonimsky was called on by his alma mater to become a university level instructor. He teached composition there and was appointed to a full professorship in 1976. Parallel to his rigorous teaching responsibilities, Slonimsky has published numerous scientific works and essays on music theory and the evolution of music in the 20th Century (“The Song of the Earth“ by G. Mahler and Orchestral Polyphony, On I. Stravinsky, Thoughts of a Composer on Contemporary Soviet Music). Slonimsky was an active researcher of Russian folk music and has undertaken several investigative expeditions to various regions in Russia.
Slonimsky’s compositional output comprises works in almost all genres and forms of classical music: five operas (a.o. “Virinea“, 1967; “Maria Stuart“ based on Schiller, 1980; “Hamlet“ based on Shakespeare, 1990; “King Lear“ based on Shakespeare, 2001), three ballets (“Icarus“, 1971; “The Magic Nut“, 2005; “Prinzessin Pirlipatt und bestrafte Hochherzigkeit“, 2007), a Requiem for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Choir and Symphony Orchestra (2004), 32 symphonies, 11 concertos for solo instruments and orchestra, diverse symphonic works of various instrumentation, numerous chamber music and choral works, “24 Preludes and Fugues“ for piano, several vocal cycles based on works by Russian poets Block, Akhmatova, Jessenin, Mandelstam and Brodsky as well as film and theater music. In addition, Slonimsky is also an author of more than 200 works for children.
A long term affiliation associated Slonimsky with one of the best opera houses and ballet companies in the world: the Mariinsky Theater. The ballet “The Magic Nut” was performed there in 2005 and the ballet “Prinzessin Pirlipatt und bestrafte Hochherzigkeit“ in the spring of 2008. In the fall of 2007, the world premiere of Slonimsky’s 15th Symphony took place with the symphonic orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater under the direction of Valery Gergiev.
Conductors of his works are for example Jury Temirkanov, Valeri Gergiew, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Arwid Jansons, Kirill Kondraschin, Vladimir Sinaisky, Mikhail Jurowski, Jeffry Meyer, Jan Krein, Vladimir Jurowski.
Slonimsky has received multiple awards for his musical works and pedagogical commitment: he is a member of the Russian Academy of Education, Deserved Artist of Russia (1987), Winner of the Glinka Prize and the National Prize of the Russian Federation (2002), Honorary Citizen of the City of St. Petersburg (1996) and Bearer of the Commander Cross Medal of the Polish Republic (2003).
Sergei Slonimsky passed away on 9 February 2020.