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date: 27 January 2020

Cui, César Antonovich (opera) [Kyui, Tsezar’ Antonovich ]locked

  • Richard Taruskin


[Kyui, Tsezar’ Antonovich ]

(b Vilna [now Vilnius], 6/Jan 18, 1835; d Petrograd, March 26, 1918). Russian composer and critic of French-Lithuanian descent .

A military engineer by training, he was professor of fortifications at the Academy of Military Engineering in St Petersburg (from which he had graduated in 1857), eventually achieving the rank of general (1904). He had briefly studied music theory (1850) with Moniuszko before moving to St Petersburg to pursue his engineering career.

In 1856 Cui met Balakirev. The two formed the nucleus of what would later become known as the New Russian School (the ‘Mighty Kuchka’ or ‘The Five’), which originated not as a company of musical nationalists but as a sort of Russian ‘Davidsbund’ – a maverick faction waging war against dogmatic authority (as represented by the newly professionalized and academicized musical life of St Petersburg under the aegis of Anton Rubinstein) on the one hand and against the philistinism of aristocratic ‘melomanes’ on the other. In this spirit Cui – like Schumann, his musical idol, before him – embarked on a secondary career in musical journalism. He became the music critic for the ...

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