Vasilenko, Sergei Nikiforovich
Born Mar. 18 (30), 1872, in Moscow; died there on Mar. 11, 1956. Soviet composer, conductor, and teacher. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1940) and of the Uzbek SSR (1939). Doctor of the history of the arts (1943).
Vasilenko graduated from the Moscow Conservatory (1901), where he had studied under S. I. Taneev, V. I. Safonov, and M. M. Ippolitov-Ivanov. In 1906, Vasilenko began to teach. From 1907 to 1950 he was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, where he taught orchestration. Among his students were A. V. Aleksandrov, A. N. Aleksandrov, N. S. Golovanov, L. A. Polovinkin, and D. R. Rogal’-Levitskii. He was the organizer and director of the popular Historical Concerts (1907-17) and conductor of the popular symphony concerts (1918) in Moscow. Vasilenko elaborated many themes from the musical folklore of the Soviet and non-Soviet East. He composed such striking orchestral suites as Turkmen Scenes (1931), The Soviet East (1932), Uzbek Suite (1942), and two Chinese Suites (1928, 1931). Vasilenko worked in Tashkent, where he played an important role in developing the Uzbek national musical culture. He composed (with M. Ashrafi) the first Uzbek operas, The Snowstorm (1939) (all dates given here are those of first productions) and The Great Canal (1941), and the ballet Akbiliak (1943). Among Vasilenko’s other works are the opera-cantata The Tale of the Great City of Kitezh (1903), the operas Son of the Sun (1929) and Suvorov (1942), the ballets Joseph the Handsome (1925) and The Gypsies (1937), the Arctic Symphony, the Fourth Symphony, (dedicated to the members of the crew of the ship Cheliuskin) and other symphonies, four concerti, including one for balalaika and symphony orchestra (1931), and arrangements of Russian folk songs (including several for folk instruments, for example, The Third Suite, 1934; the suite In the Village, 1943; and The Kolkhoz Suite, 1953).
Vasilenko was awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and medals. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1947.