Listen to the great Russian might-have-been

Listen to the great Russian might-have-been


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2021

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:


In the evolution of Russian music, Alexey Stanchinsky is the great might-have-been. A student of Sergey Taneyev and Alexander Grechaninov, he was introduced to Tolstoy as the next Russian genius, only for his mental health to collapse in the midst of a double family crisis. After his father died in 1910 when Stanchinsky was 21, his mother refused to let him marry his pregnant lover, daughter of the estate manager. Suffering depression and hallucinations, Stanchnsky was taken around all the best nerve doctors in Russia and developed a habit of burning any new works he set on paper….

Read on here.

And here.

En francais ici.

In Spanish here.

In Czech here.

In The Critic here.



  • Edgar Self says:

    His music is like Scriabin’s, many short pieces, etudes, a beautiful nocturne, the sonata mentioned, and a piano trio. Filifov’s CD and the Naxos/Marco Polo series are good, as I’m sure this new issue is.

    His teacher Taneyev’s Prelude & Fugue in G* minor is itself ecstatic, difficult, and Scriabinesque. Mitropoulos told Cliburn to learn it to impress the Moscow judges. He did but said it nearly killed him. Lilya Zylberstein and Vladimir Leyetchkiss have recorded it, she especially well with Mussorgsky’s “Pictures”.

    I didn’t know the Gretchaninoff or Tolstoy connection, or the story of Stanchinsky’s young love. The usual account is that he died escaping from a mental hospital.

  • Nijinsky says:

    When someone isn’t allowed to marry the woman that bore his child, and that he’s in love with, this isn’t excuse to send him to “nerve” doctors, for whatever response he has to such blatant discriminatory bigoted abuse. All to avoid the fact that a society that allows such abuse isn’t a society at all. In fact would he be “healed” from such “medical” attention that would point more towards brainwashing than any “medical” cure. To start going on about one being a “crackpot” visionary or other amazingly cheap shots at a wounded soul, is further the kind of insensitivity that one would need a “nerve” doctor to help maintain by thus disabling the mind.

  • Nijinsky says:

    I’m imagining it was class differences, as excuse why he wasn’t allowed to marry his true love, who knows what kind of high held “rules” infiltrate the mind of someone who doesn’t see what kind of torment she causes in her own son with her ideology. To have his art, which does remain, labeled as crackpot visionary stuff, while further excusing seeing a nerve doctor as medical treatment or labels such as hallucinations being used… That a person is forbidden from marrying his true love who bore his child, and a society allowed such behavior: this isn’t a hallucination when it’s part of the pretense of social adhesion or “harmony” in “society.” And there’s more focus on finding fault with his response, which is natural, than the horrible pretenses of such a “society.”

    I’ve had it myself that I can go off kilter, but that goes away by itself after awhile, and I understand the symbolism, even if it takes years. I can end up in such a state, from Christmas to two months later I was a bit off kilter. I even thought things were going on that weren’t. Posted some strange things here. With the amount of, image games going on I Thought Hilary Hahn was hiding the fact that she’s lesbian which I don’t think she is, or even would be appropriate to post, which I’m sorry about and all of the other petty stuff, which really only showed what kind of emotional wounds I had I couldn’t relate to and how insecure that could make me that I couldn’t monitor what I was thinking; but much of it remains minor compared to what generally goes on. “Nerve” doctors, would one look at the true science of those times, and these as well, really only use agents that disable the brain and interfere with normal healthy brain function. And normal healthy brain function might be “hallucinations” that give room for unexpressed emotional sounds, the same as a dream might. But then you have to look past standard assumptions, media ads and common practice. How people are lead to become addicted to all sorts of consumption that disable their more critical thinking, everything from sugar, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, legal and illegal controlled substances, Movies with Hollywood type chase scenes, media bubbles getting people fixated on moral issues to cloud over what’s really going on with those deciding what appears in the media and what doesn’t… All of that is considered how one deals with life, or even moral issues, or how to maintain a society and what to know.

    That someone can be labeled as having hallucinations, that while horrible emotional abuse that is known he had to undergo is delineated clearly enough to show there was even more going on, this is incredibly insensitive.

    And I’m just dealing with this lightly here. That a society that finds no fault with causing mass starvation what it’s preventable, hides and suppresses all sorts of wonderful science, inventions and other forms of human expression when they challenge economic or governing “authorities,” judges people on whether they adhere to arbitrary fashions rather than daring to express themselves as human; all of that causing extreme distress for anyone not indoctrinated..

    The whole macabre extense of anyone expressing the normal emotional responses such abuse falling bait to being labeled with some sort of flaw in their thinking…..

  • ” …his mother refused to let him marry his pregnant lover…”

    Other than his mother merely being ornery and controlling, was there any legal basis for that in 1910 Russia?

  • John Borstlap says:

    A very Russian life story.

    Here is some Stanchinsky – utterly brilliant preludes polyphonically constructed and yet it sounds as if just improvised for fun:

  • RJC says:

    A coulda-been like Hans Rott?