Alexander Siloti
Alexander Ilyich Siloti (also Ziloti, , Aleksandr Iljič Ziloti) (9 October 1863, near Kharkiv
Kharkiv or Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine.The city was founded in 1654 and was a major centre of Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv became the first city in Ukraine where the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in December 1917 and Soviet government was...

 - 8 December 1945, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

) was a Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n pianist
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

, conductor
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

 and composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. (Spelling note: A truer transliteration of his surname into English would be Ziloti; however, it is usually seen in its German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 transliteration Siloti. Initial s in German is pronounced z.)


Alexander Siloti was born on his father's estate near Kharkiv, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (then part of Imperial Russia). He studied piano at the Moscow Conservatory
Moscow Conservatory
The Moscow Conservatory is a higher musical education institution in Moscow, and the second oldest conservatory in Russia after St. Petersburg Conservatory. Along with the St...

 with Nikolai Zverev
Nikolai Zverev
Nikolai Sergeyevich Zverev was a Russian pianist and teacher known for his pupils Alexander Siloti, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Scriabin, Konstantin Igumnov, Alexander Goldenweiser, and others.- Life :...

 from 1871, then from 1875 under Nikolai Rubinstein, brother of the more famous Anton Rubinstein
Anton Rubinstein
Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein was a Russian-Jewish pianist, composer and conductor. As a pianist he was regarded as a rival of Franz Liszt, and he ranks amongst the great keyboard virtuosos...

; from that year he also studied counterpoint under Sergei Taneyev
Sergei Taneyev
Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev , was a Russian composer, pianist, teacher of composition, music theorist and author.-Life:...

, harmony under Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, and theory under Nikolai Hubert. He graduated with the Gold Medal in Piano in 1881. Siloti went to Weimar, Germany to further his studies with Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, co-founding the Liszt-Verein in Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, and making his professional debut on 19 November 1883. Returning to Russia in 1887, Siloti taught at the Moscow Conservatory, where his students included Alexander Goldenweiser
Alexander Borisovich Goldenweiser
Alexander Borisovich Goldenweiser was a Russian pianist, teacher, composer and public figure.Goldenweiser was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia and studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Sergei Taneyev and Vassily Safonoff, winning the Gold Medal for Piano upon his graduation in 1897...

, Leonid Maximov, and his first cousin
In kinship terminology, a cousin is a relative with whom one shares one or more common ancestors. The term is rarely used when referring to a relative in one's immediate family where there is a more specific term . The term "blood relative" can be used synonymously and establishes the existence of...

 Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music...

. During this period he also began work as editor for Tchaikovsky, particularly on the First
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky)
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's desired pianist....

 and Second
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Tchaikovsky)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44, was written in 1879-1880. It was dedicated to Nikolai Rubinstein, who had insisted he be allowed to perform it at the premiere as a way of making up for his harsh criticism of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. Rubinstein was...

 piano concertos.

Siloti married Vera Tretyakova, herself a pianist and the daughter of wealthy industrialist and art collector Pavel Tretyakov
Pavel Tretyakov
Pavel Mikhaylovich Tretyakov was a Russian businessman, patron of art, collector, and philanthropist who gave his name to the Tretyakov Gallery and Tretyakov Drive in Moscow. His brother S.M. Tretyakov was also a famous patron of art and a philanthropist....

. He left his post at the Conservatory in May 1891, and from 1892-1900 lived and toured in Europe with his wife and young children. He also toured New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Cincinnati and Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 in 1898. As a conductor Siloti gave the world premiere of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

 with the composer as soloist in 1901. From 1901-1903, he led the Moscow Philharmonic; from 1903-1917, he organized, financed, and conducted the influential Siloti Concerts in St Petersburg, collaborating with the critic and musicologist Alexander Ossovsky
Alexander Ossovsky
Alexander Vyacheslavovich Ossovsky , 1871 –July 31, 1957) was a renowned Russian musical writer, critic and musicologist, professor at Saint Petersburg Conservatory, pupil of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and friend of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Siloti and Nikolai...

. He presented Leopold Auer
Leopold Auer
Leopold Auer was a Hungarian violinist, teacher, conductor and composer.-Early life and career:...

, Pablo Casals
Pablo Casals
Pau Casals i Defilló , known during his professional career as Pablo Casals, was a Spanish Catalan cellist and conductor. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time...

, Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

, George Enescu
George Enescu
George Enescu was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher.-Biography:Enescu was born in the village of Liveni , Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County. He showed musical talent from early in his childhood. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical...

, Josef Hofmann, Wanda Landowska
Wanda Landowska
Wanda Landowska was a Polish harpsichordist whose performances, teaching, recordings and writings played a large role in reviving the popularity of the harpsichord in the early 20th century...

, Willem Mengelberg
Willem Mengelberg
Joseph Willem Mengelberg was a Dutch conductor, famous for his performances of Mahler and Strauss with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.- Biography :...

, Felix Mottl
Felix Mottl
Felix Josef von Mottl was an Austrian conductor and composer. He was regarded as one of the most brilliant conductors of his day. He composed three operas, of which Agnes Bernauer was the most successful, as well as a string quartet and numerous songs and other music...

, Arthur Nikisch
Arthur Nikisch
Arthur Nikisch ; 12 October 185523 January 1922) was a Hungarian conductor who performed internationally, holding posts in Boston, London and - most importantly - Berlin. He was considered an outstanding interpreter of the music of Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Liszt...

, Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

 and Felix Weingartner
Felix Weingartner
Paul Felix von Weingartner, Edler von Münzberg was an Austrian conductor, composer and pianist.-Biography:...

, and local and world premieres by Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, Elgar
Edward Elgar
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM, GCVO was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos...

, Glazunov
Alexander Glazunov
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov was a Russian composer of the late Russian Romantic period, music teacher and conductor...

, Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

, Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music...

, Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, Scriabin
Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist who initially developed a lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language inspired by the music of Frédéric Chopin. Quite independent of the innovations of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed an increasingly atonal musical system,...

, Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

, Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

 and others. Ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev , usually referred to outside of Russia as Serge, was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes, from which many famous dancers and choreographers would arise.-Early life and career:...

 first heard Stravinsky's music at one of the Siloti Concerts.

In the generation prior to 1917, Siloti was one of Russia's most important artists, with music by Arensky
Anton Arensky
Anton Stepanovich Arensky -Biography:Arensky was born in Novgorod, Russia. He was musically precocious and had composed a number of songs and piano pieces by the age of nine...

, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky dedicated to him. In 1918, Siloti was appointed Intendant of the Mariinsky Theatre
Mariinsky Theatre
The Mariinsky Theatre is a historic theatre of opera and ballet in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Opened in 1860, it became the preeminent music theatre of late 19th century Russia, where many of the stage masterpieces of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov received their premieres. The...

, but late the following year fled what had become Soviet Russia for England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, finally settling in New York in December 1921. From 1925-1942 he taught at the Juilliard Graduate School, performing occasionally in recital, and in November 1930 gave a legendary all-Liszt concert with Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. One of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, he was renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory...

. His many students included Marc Blitzstein
Marc Blitzstein
Marcus Samuel Blitzstein, better known as Marc Blitzstein , was an American composer. He won national attention in 1937 when his pro-union musical The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down by the Works Progress Administration...

, Gladys Ewart
Gladys Ewart
Gladys Ewart was a Canadian pianist and music educatorBorn in Ottawa, she was the daughter of John S. Ewart and Jessie Ewart . She studied with Harry Puddicombe at the Canadian Conservatory of Music in her native city, with Alexander Siloti in New York City, and with Martinus Sieveking in London...

, and Eugene Istomin
Eugene Istomin
Eugene George Istomin was an American pianist.Istomin was born in New York City of Russian parents. He was famous for his work in a piano trio, in which he collaborated with Isaac Stern and Leonard Rose. Known as the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio, the group made many recordings, particularly of music by...


Siloti, who was one of the great practitioners of the art of transcription, wrote over 200 of these arrangements, as well as orchestral editions of the music of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi. Possibly his most famous transcription is the Prelude in B minor
Prelude in B minor (J. S. Bach, arranged Siloti)
The Prelude in B minor is an arrangement for piano by Alexander Siloti of the Prelude in E minor BWV 855a by Johann Sebastian Bach from his Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach...

, based on a Prelude in E minor by J. S. Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

. As a pianist Siloti made 8 piano rolls and 26 minutes of home-recorded discs. Carl Fischer has published a large anthology of his piano transcriptions, and Rowman and Littlefield has published the first full-scale Alexander Siloti biography.

His daughter, Kyriena Siloti, was also a noted pianist and teacher in New York and Boston until her death in 1989, aged 94.

Sources and notes

  • C. Barber. Lost in the Stars: The Forgotten Musical Life of Alexander Siloti. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8108-4108-8
  • S. Bertensson. "Knight of Music." Etude 64:369, July 1946.
  • B. Dexter. "Remembering Siloti, A Russian Star." American Music Teacher, April/May 1989.
  • J. Gottlieb. "Remembering Alexander Siloti." Juilliard Journal, November 1990.
  • L.M. Kutateladze and L.N. Raaben, eds., Alexander Il'yich Ziloti, 1863-1945: vospominaniya i pis'ma (Leningrad, 1963)
  • R.-A. Mooser. "The Siloti Concerts" in The Russian Life of R.-Aloys Mooser, Music Critic to the Tsars: Memoirs and Selected Writings (Edwin Mellen Press: Lewiston, Queenston, Lampeter, 2008), pp. 149-172.
  • A. Ziloti. Moi vospominaniya o F. Liste (St Petersburg, 1911; My Memories of Liszt, Eng. trl. Edinburgh, 1913 and New York, 1986).

See also

Compositions by Alexander Siloti

External links

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