Dmitrii Bortnianskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bortnianskii, Dmitrii Stepanovich


Born 1751, in Glukhov; died Sept. 28 (Oct. 10), 1825, in St. Petersburg. Russian composer. Ukrainian by nationality.

Bortnianskii studied singing and music theory in the Court Choir (St. Petersburg); he studied composition under B. Galuppi. From 1769 to 1779 he lived abroad. In Italy, his operas Creonte (in the original Antigone, 1771, Venice), Alcidamas (1778, Venice), and Quintus Fabius (1779, Mo-dena) were produced. From 1779 he was the choirmaster and from 1796 the director of the Court Choir. The flourishing of this choir was connected with Bortnianskii’s activity. He wrote three operas based on French texts: The Festival of the Lord (1786, Pavlovsk), The Falcon (1786, Gatchina), and the most important of these The Rival Son, or the Modern Stratonica (1787, Pavlovsk).

An outstanding master of choral writing, Bortnianskii has gone down in the history of Russian music primarily as the creator of spiritual choral compositions. Together with M. S. Bérezovskii he created a new type of Russian choral concerto. He composed numerous choral concerti, church choir music, and secular choral works. Bortnianskii’s chamber instrumental works, outstanding among which are a quintet (1787) and a concert symphony (1796), constitute the first examples of the large, cyclical form in Russian music.


Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–10. Revised and corrected by P. Tchaikovsky. Moscow, 1882.


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