nicolas slonimsky

famed musicologist, pianist, composer, and conductor nicolas slonimsky died on christmas day 1995, at the exceptional age of 101.

born nikolai leonidovich slonimsky in st. petersburg, russia, on april 27, 1894, slonimsky was a self-described "failed wunderkind" who came to the u.s in 1923, by way of turkey, bulgaria, and then paris, where he served as "secretary and piano pounder" to the noted conductor serge koussevitzky. in his considerable lifetime slonimsky conducted; wrote music articles for newspapers and magazines; was lecturer at harvard, not in music, but in slavonic languages; composed orchestral works and commercial jingles; and compiled big books. a tireless champion of the new, he introduced edgard varese's ionisation, in addition to conducting the premieres of works by charles ives, henry cowell, and other noted contemporary composers. he was famed for his reference works, most notably the "tireless tomes" of baker's biographical dictionary of musicians, editions 5-8 (and a couple of concise versions as well!); that "exhaustive chronological survey of all things musically relevant" in the twentieth century, music since 1900, fifth edition (schirmer books, 1994); thesaurus of scales and melodic patterns (schirmer books, 1975); and the delightful lexicon of musical invective (1952). his autobiography, perfect pitch, was published in 1988.

both the new york times (december 27, 1995) and the new yorker magazine (january 15, 1996) acknowledged the passing of nicolas slonimsky.

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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