Aliabev, Aleksandr

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Aliab’ev, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich


Born Aug. 4(15), 1787, in Tobol’sk; died Feb. 22 (Mar. 6), 1851, in Moscow. Russian composer. Participant in the Patriotic War of 1812; officer until 1823. Author of vaudeville pieces and operas (including Moonlit Night, or The Brownies, staged in 1823).

Aliab’ev wrote the choruses to the prologue to Celebration of the Muses for the opening of the Bol’shoi Theater in 1825. In 1827 he wrote the ballet The Magic Drum, or The Sequel to the Magic Flute. He was arrested in 1825 on a false murder charge and exiled to Siberia in 1828. He was subsequently transferred to the Caucasus and then to the southern Urals. He lived in Moscow from the late 1830’s until his death.

His music is marked by a romantic mood; it constitutes an important historical stage in the development of Russian music of the preclassical period. The impressions of the war years and the years of his exile left prominent traces in his work. Aliab’ev was a distinguished craftsman of Russian vocal lyricism; he had refined gifts as a melodist and a flair for harmony. He wrote more than 150 romances with words by A. S. Pushkin (“Circassian Song,” “Winter Road,” “I Loved You,” and others), A. A. Del’vig (“Nightingale” and others), N. M. Iazykov (“From a Country, a Distant Country,” and others).

He was the composer of the opera Enchanted Night, based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the opera-ballet The Fisherman and the Mermaid, or The Evil Potion, the opera Amalat-hek after Bestuzhev-Marlinskii, the musical-dramatic scene Prisoner of the Caucasus after Pushkin, and others. His instrumental music included works for symphonic orchestra, among them a symphony; works for a brass band; and instrumental ensembles, including three string quartets and pieces for various instruments.

Aliab’ev was the first great Russian composer who collected national melodies in the Caucasus. He harmonized Bashkir, Kirghiz, and Turkmen songs. He was the author of the first musical anthology (published in 1834) of adaptations of Ukrainian folk songs collected by M. A. Maksimovich (Voices of Ukrainian Songs . . ., 2nd ed., 1961).


Timofeev, G. N. A. A. Aliab’ev: ocherk zhizni i tvorchestva. Moscow, 1912.
Shteinpress, B. Stranitsy iz zhizni A. A. Aliab’eva. Moscow, 1956.
Shteinpress, B. A. A. Aliab’ev ν izgnanii. Moscow, 1959.
Dobrokhotov, B. V. A. A. Aliab’ev. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.