Friday, 7 September 2012


When we visited St-Petersburg in June, we went one day to Peterhof the palace on the Baltic sea built by Peter the Great as a summer retreat. We heard this music play at the great cascade of fountains,  symbol of the victory of Tsar Peter at Poltava over the Swedish army of Charles XII. This victory was very important, it gave the new city the vital access to the Baltic sea which had been controlled by the Swedes for a very long time.  I asked our guide about the music, what was it I wondered, I remember hearing it before but had no idea who the composer was, our guide said, it is a Soviet piece, not exactly a clear answer, so I kept on looking further. It turns out the composer was Rheingold Morisovitch Gliere, of Polish-Ukrainian origin, who lived from 1875 to 1956. Working for the Tsarist regime and then for the Soviet, many times decorated for his compositions. His works are based on folkloric music of the various people living in the Russian Empire, he never travelled abroad and often toured the regions of Russia. The conductor Leopold Stokowski considered his works a monument to Slavic culture. He thought for 20 years at the Moscow conservatory, some of his students became great names in music, like Aram Khatchatourian, Sergei Prokoviev, Nikolai Miaskovski. His most famous works the ballet, the Red Poppy, the Third Symphony and Taras Boulba. He admired greatly Glazounov and Glinka amongst other Russian composers. He was highly decorated by the Soviet Regime. It appears that his secret to survive the horrors of the Stalinist period and the purges was to stay clear of any ideological debate and to concentrate on music composition, in other words, he kept his mouth shut.

Rheingold Gliere


  1. He seems to have been a decent bloke. His high watermark was the vast Third - 'Ilya Muromets' - Symphony, after which he went on repeating the old romanticism with less inspiration throughout the Soviet era.

  2. I am sure he was, I like his music and in a Russian decor it goes very well with the people and country.