Nikolai Semenovich Golovanov

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Golovanov, Nikolai Semenovich


Born Jan. 9 (21), 1891, in Moscow; died there Aug. 28, 1953. Soviet conductor, pianist, composer, and teacher. People’s Artist of the USSR (1948).

Golovanov graduated from the composition class of S. N. Vasilenko at Moscow Conservatory in 1914. He became conductor of the Synod Choir in 1909; he was choirmaster of the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR (Moscow) during 1915–18, its conductor during 1918–36, and chief conductor during 1948–53. In 1919, with K. S. Stanislavsky, he participated in the organization of the Opera Studio at the Bolshoi Theater (later the Stanislavsky Theater of Opera). In 1937 he became chief conductor and art director of the Bolshoi Symphonic Orchestra of the All-Union Radio Committee. Golovanov also taught: during 1925–29 and 1943–48 he taught at the Moscow Conservatory and directed the classes of opera and orchestra.

An immensely erudite conductor, Golovanov concentrated his creative efforts on the interpretation of Russian classical music: Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky (1948; State Prize of the USSR, 1949), Sadko by Rimsky-Korsakov (1949; State Prize of the USSR, 1950), and Khovanshchina by Mussorgsky (1950; State Prize of the USSR, 1951). His conducting was distinguished by energy, contrast, and orchestral tone color.

Golovanov was an excellent pianist and the peerless accompanist of A. V. Nezhdanova, with whom he formed a highly artistic ensemble. He composed two operas (Princess Urata and Burial Mound of a Bogatyr), a symphony, and more than 20 art songs. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1946 for his concert performances. He received the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and medals.


Anosov. N.. and N. S. Golovanov. Sovetskaia muzyka, 1951, no. 5.
Khaikin, B. “Burnyi Talant.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1963, no. 8.


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