Safonov, Vasilii Ilich
Safonov, Vasilii Il’ich
Born Jan. 25 (Feb. 6), 1852, in the stanitsa (large cossack village) of Itsiurskaia, Terek Oblast; died Feb. 27, 1918, in Kislovodsk. Russian pianist, teacher, conductor, and public figure in music.
Safonov graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1880 and taught there from 1880 to 1885. From 1885 to 1905 he was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory (from 1889, also director). He was principal conductor of the symphonic concerts of the Moscow branch of the Russian Musical Society from 1889 to 1905. From 1906 to 1909, Safonov was the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as director of the National Conservatory in New York. Returning to Russia, he performed primarily as a pianist in ensembles (with L. S. Auer, K. Iu. Davydov, and A. V. Verzhbilovich, for example). As a conductor, Safonov tried to popularize Russian symphonic music, presenting the first performances of many works by P. I. Tchaikovsky and A. K. Glazunov. He introduced the method of conducting without a baton.
Safonov was the founder of one of the leading prerevolution-ary Russian pianistic schools. Among his pupils were A. N. Scriabin, N. K. Metner, and E. A. Bekman-Shcherbina. He wrote The New Formula (1916), a guide to pianism.