César Cui

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cui, César Antonovich


Born Jan. 6 (18), 1835, in Vilnius; died Mar. 26, 1918, in Petrograd. Russian composer, music critic, military engineer, and scholar; engineer general (1904).

Cui graduated from the Nikolai Engineering Academy (1857) and became an instructor there (adjunct professor from 1878, professor from 1880, and honored professor from 1891).

Cui studied the theory of composition with S. Moniuszko. An important role in his development as a musician was played by his acquaintance with A. S. Dargomyzhskii, M. A. Balakirev, and V. V. Stasov. Cui was a member of the “Russian Five.” He became a music critic in 1864, expounding the principles of realism and folk character in music and championing the works of M. I. Glinka, A. S. Dargomyzhskii, and the young representatives of the “new Russian musical school,” as well as avant-garde innovative trends in foreign music.

While Cui’s opera William Ratcliff (based on H. Heine’s drama, 1869; Mariinskii Theater, St. Petersburg) reflected the progressive aesthetic formulations of the “Russian Five,” it exhibited the romantic conventionality and stiltedness that continued to characterize his later works. The composer’s creative legacy is extensive. It consists of 14 operas, including The Mandarin’s Son (1859), Angelo (based on the V. Hugo play, 1875), The Saracen (based on a play by A. Dumas père, 1898), and The Captain’s Daughter (based on the A. S. Pushkin novella, 1909); four children’s operas; works for orchestra, chamber instrumental ensembles, piano, violin, and cello; and choruses and vocal ensembles.

Cui’s most interesting works are the art songs (more than 250), characterized by lyric expressiveness, elegance, and subtle vocal declamation. “The Burned Letter,” “The Statue in Isarskoe Selo” (text by Pushkin), and “The Aeolian Harps” (text by A. N. Maikov) are among the most popular. Cui continued his systematic musical and critical activities until the beginning of the century, but his views became limited and conservative in the late 1870’s.

Cui wrote fundamental scientific works on fortification and created a course on fortification that he taught at the Nikolai Engineering Academy, Mikhail Artillery Academy, and Academy of the General Staff. He was the first Russian military engineer to suggest the use of armored turret emplacements in land fortresses. After the October Revolution of 1917, Cui went over to the side of Soviet power.


Russkii romans: Ocherk ego razvitiia. St. Petersburg, 1896.
“Iz moikh opernykh vospominanii.” Ezhegodnik imperatorskikh teatrov, 1899–1900, 2nd supplement.
“Pervye kompositorskie shagi.” Ezhegodnik imperatorskikh teatrov, 1910, fasc. 1.
Muzykal’no-kriticheskie stat’i, vol. 1. Petrograd, 1918.
Izbr. stat’i. Leningrad, 1952.
Izbr. pis’ma. Leningrad, 1955.
La Musique en Russie. Paris, 1881.
Kratkii uchebnik polevoi fortifikatsii, 6th ed. St. Petersburg, 1892.
Kratkii istoricheskii ocherk dolgovremennoi fortifikatsii, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1889.


Stasov, V. V. Izbr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1952. Pages 387–408.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Alison-Crompton (dates unknown); Thomas Arne (1710-1778); Samuel Barber (1910-1981); Thomas Vincent Cator (1888-1931); Ernest Charles (1895-1984); Cesar Cui (1835-1918); Celius Dougherty (1902-1986); John Dowland (1563-1626); Clara Edwards (1880-1974); Edward German (1862-1936); Alexander Gretchaninoff (1864-1956); Richard Hageman (1881-1966); Carl Hahn (b.
There are old favorites, as well as some new and interesting choices, including two English translations of Russian songs by Alexander Gretchaninoff and Cesar Cui. Introduction to Art Song: Songs in English for Classical Voice Students is a real asset to the studio voice teacher or voice class teacher, and provide a go-to resource for those wishing to introduce beginning students to the jewels of this art song genre.
1400-1900, by Dufay, Rameau, Josquin, John Sheppard, Byrd, JS Bach, CPE Bach, Michael Haydn, Mozart, Caspar Ett, Clara Schumann, Salomon Sulzer, Bruckner, Cesar Cui, Grieg, Rowland Huw Prichard, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Holst, Luise Le Beau, Wolf, Ingeborg von Bronsart, Parker, and Busoni.
Pianist and academic Kirill Monorosi gave us insight in the editorial process of publishing a previously unknown work discovered as part of his research into the music of Cesar Cui, Louise Devendish talked Australian Contemporary Percussion Music and Dr Tim Nikolsky joined us via Skype to discuss the digital delivery of his Australian Jazz Real Book collection.
They were, in fact, Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modeste Mussorgsky and Nicolai RimskyKorsakov.
The Japanese violinist Takako Nishsizaki plays rarities from Russia, the Violin Concerto of Anton Rubinstein, and a suite for violin and orchestra by Cesar Cui, while more traditional sounds come from the Novospassky Monastery Choir singing from the Russian Divine Liturgy.
Petersburg Conservatory, Cesar Cui noted that she was the first Russian chamber-music singer.
Serov rises less tidily to the defence of the Free Music School; Cesar Cui partners him with suggestions of nepotism within the conservatoire.
Petersburg, consisting of Mily Balakirev (1837 - 1910), Borodin, Cesar Cui (1835 - 1918), Mussorgsky and Rimsky - Korsakov.
(10.) Cesar Cui, The Russian Romance: An Outline of Its Development (1896), translated by James Walker (Nerstrand, MN: James Walker, 1993), 4.
Liszt's relationships with other composers are more difficult to trace from this collection; Williams has included only one or two letters to individual composers, among them Fryderyk Chopin, Edvard Grieg, Bedrich Smetana, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Rubinstein, Alexander Borodin, Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev, Cesar Cui, Carl Reinecke, Camille Saint-Saens, and Ferenc Erkel.
After documenting the earliest interest shown in Wagner by Russians (1841), Bartlett chronicles the gradual inroads made by devoted Wagnerites in bringing Wagner's operas to Russian theaters; Wagner's visit to Russia in 1863, for instance, served to challenge Italian operatic dominance and, in the words of critic Nikolai Melgunov, "inject an active current into [Russia's] sleepy aesthetic pond." Bartlett charts the nineteenth-century evaluation of Wagner by sampling prose ranging from the crude diatribes of Cesar Cui to the panegyrics of Alexander Serov (named "Wagner's Russian acolyte" by Bartlett).