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His Name Was Pronounced With The Deepest Awe

Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881 - 1950)


In 1930, The Philadelphia Orchestra gave a successful U.S. premiere of the 10th symphony of a revered Russian composer—Nikolai Miaskovsky—sometimes called "The Father of the Soviet Symphony." As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the work and the composer, both little known in America in today, are being championed by one of today's leading conductors.

On Sunday, Sept. 18th at 1 pm on WRTI, Vladimir Jurowski leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Miakovsky’s 10th symphony. The program also includes music by Beethoven and Janacek. 

Radio script: 
MUSIC: Miaskovsky’s Symphony No. 10, The Philadelphia Orchestra

Susan Lewis:  Nikolai Miaskovsky described his 10th symphony - based on Alexander Pushkin’s tragic  poem, The Bronze Horseman, as “massive— as if it were made of iron." Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski says it demands a very strong orchestra.

Vladimir Jurowski: It is a highly complex work; it’s very brief, but it's extremely challenging in terms of its language.

SL:  The 1930 U.S. premiere by Stokowski and The Philadelphia Orchestra was a big success, befitting a composer of Miaskovsky’s stature. 

VJ: The name of Miaskovsky was always pronounced with the deepest awe and respect at home. He was certainly the most important compositional teacher of his era, and hundreds of soviet composers, among them, my grandfather.

SL: Jurwoski says the 10th symphony reflects a meeting of two traditions. 

VJ:   He’s obviously an offspring of this Russian symphonic tradition, coming from Tchaikovksy—Mussorgsky partly. At the same time, he felt attracted to the atonal language common at the time in Germany. 

SL:Miaskovsky wrote 27 symphonies. He was named one of the top 10 contemporary composers in a CBS radio poll in 1935.

Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about the composer Nikolai Miaskowsky and his 10th symphony.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.