Dmitrii Borisovich Kabalevskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kabalevskii, Dmitrii Borisovich


Born Dec. 17 (30), 1904, in St. Petersburg. Soviet composer, teacher, and public figure. People’s Artist of the USSR since 1963, doctor of the arts since 1965, and full member of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR since 1971. Member of the CPSU since 1940.

Kabalevskii completed N. Ia. Miaskovskii’s course in composition (1929) and A. B. Goldenweiser’s course in piano (1930) at the Moscow Conservatory. He has been a professor there since 1939. Between 1940 and 1946 he was editor in chief of the journal Sovetskaia Muzyka. Since 1954 he has been a member of the collegium of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR. In 1952 he became secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers, in which he also heads the commission on the musical and aesthetic education of children and young people. Since 1969 he has headed the Council on Aesthetic Education under the Presidium of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR. Kabalevskii has been a member of the Council of Directors of the International Society for Music Education since 1961 and its honorary president since 1972. Since 1953 he has been a member of the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace. In performances of his own works, he appears both as a pianist and as a conductor.

Most of Kabalevskii’s work draws upon contemporary socially significant themes. He frequently turns for inspiration to Soviet youth and children, as in three of his concerti—the Concerto for Violin (1948; State Prize of the USSR, 1949), the Concerto for Cello No. 1 (1949), and the Concerto for Piano No. 3 (1952), as well as cantatas, children’s songs, and piano pieces. His work is strongly lyrical, with cheerful tones, a clear, songlike quality, joyous vitality, fervor, and humor. At the same time he captured in music the tragic events of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) in such works as the opera Taras’Family (1950; State Prize of the USSR, 1951), based on B. Gorbatov’s novella The Unvanquished and depicting the struggle of the Soviet people against the fascist invaders. In the opera Colas Breugnon (1937; revised version 1968, Lenin Prize, 1972), based on R. Rolland’s novella, a lyrical theme blends with an unfolding of social conflict. Kabalevskii also composed the operas In the Fire (formerly Near Moscow, 1943), Nikita Vershinin (1955), and The Sisters (1969).

Kabalevskii has done much work in symphonic and cantata-oratorio music. He has written four symphonies (1932, 1933, 1934, 1956), a number of concerti—three for piano (1929, 1936, 1952), one for violin (1948), and two for cello (1949, 1964)—the suite for chorus and orchestra Peoples Avengers (1942), the cantata The Leninists (1959), and the Requiem for soloists, two choruses, and orchestra, with words by R. Rozhdestvenskii (1963; Glinka State Prize of the RSFSR, 1966). His chamber works include two string quartets (No. 2, 1945; State Prize of the USSR, 1946) and 24 preludes for piano. He has also written music for a number of films and plays. Kabalevskii was a deputy to the seventh and eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He is a corresponding member of the Academy of Arts of the German Democratic Republic (1970), honorary professor at the Conservatory in Mexico City (1959), and vice-president of the British Workers’ Choral Society (1950). He has been awarded two Orders of Lenin and two other orders, as well as medals.


Izbrannye stat’i o muzyke. Moscow, 1963.
Pro trekh kitov i mnogoe drugoe: Knizhka o muzyke. Moscow, 1970.


Grosheva, E. D. Kabalevskii. Moscow, 1956.
Abramovskii, G. D. Kabalevskii. Moscow, 1960.
Danilevich, L. Tvorchestvo D. B. Kabalevskogo. Moscow, 1963.
Glezer, R. V. D. B. Kabalevskii. Moscow, 1969.
Nazarevskii, P. D. B. Kabalevskii: Notograficheskii i bibliograficheskii spravochnik. Moscow, 1969.
Pozhidaev, G. A. D. B. Kabalevskii: Rasskazy o zhizni i tvorchestve.
Moscow, 1970.

L. V. DANILEVICH [11–246–4; updated]

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