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Georgy Catoire (Composer, Arranger)

Born: April 27, 1861 - Moscow, Russia
Died: May 21, 1926 - Moscow, Russia

Georgy L'vovich Katuar [Georges Catoire] was a Russian composer of French heritage. He studied piano in Berlin with Karl Klindworth, a friend of Richard Wagner's. It was from this piano teacher that he learned to appreciate the works of Wagner. Catoire would become one of the few Russian Wagnerite composers, joining the Wagner society in 1879. It is partially due to his steadfast loyalty to Wagner that Catoire's works are relatively unknown today. Most of Rimsky-Korsakov's circle disliked Wagner strongly, which explains that Wagner's music was barely known by the Russian public or her musicians. Rimsky-Korsakov and his circle were less supportive of Catoire than they might have been had he been less adamant about his position on Wagner.

Georgy Catoire graduated from Moscow University in mathematics in 1884 with outstanding honours. Upon graduating, he worked for his father's commercial business, but he later became a full-time musician. It was at this time that Catoire began taking lessons in piano performance and basic harmony from Klindworth's student, V. I. Willborg. These lessons resulted in the composition of a piano sonata, some character pieces, and a few transcriptions. The most famous of these transcriptions was the piano transcription of Tchaikovsky's Introduction and Fugue from the First Orchestral Suite which Jurgenson later published at the recommendation of Tchaikovsky.

Unsatisfied with his lessons with Willborg, Georgy Catoire went to Berlin in late 1885 to continue his lessons with Klindworth. Throughout 1886, he made brief trips to Moscow, and on one of these trips, he became acquainted with Tchaikovsky, who was greatly pleased with Catoire's set of piano variations. Tchaikovsky then told the younger composer that, "it would be a great sin if he did not devote himself to composition". It was during this visit to Moscow in which Catoire was introduced to the publisher, Jurgenson. Catoire continued to study piano with Klindworth in Berlin through 1886 and simultaneously studied composition and theory with Otto Tirsch. Unsatisfied with Tirsch's instruction, he began study with Philip Rufer. These lessons were also short-lived but resulted in the composition of a string quartet.

Georgy Catoire returned to Moscow in 1887. He declined to debut as a concert pianist despite Klindworth's recommendations to the contrary. Catoire met with Tchaikovsky again, and he showed him with Gubert and Sergei Taneyev the string quartet he had written in Berlin for Rufer. They all agreed that the work was musically interesting but lacking in texture. On the recommendation of Tchaikovsky, Catoire went to St. Petersburg to Rimsky-Korsakov with a request for composition and theory lessons. In a letter to Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky later described Catoire as "very talented... but in need of serious schooling." Rimsky-Korsakov gave Catoire one lesson before passing him off to Lyadov. This single lesson resulted in three piano pieces which were later published as Op. 2. With Lyadov, Catoire wrote studied counterpoint and wrote several pieces including the lovely Caprice Op. 3. Lyadov's lessons concluded Catoire's formal schooling. After returning to Moscow, Catoire became quite close to Anton Arensky. During this period, Catoire wrote his second quartet which he later rewrote as a quintet and his cantata, Rusalka, Op. 5 for solo voice, women's chorus and orchestra.

Georgy Catoire's family, friends, and colleagues were not sympathetic to him in any way at the beginning of his career in composition, so in 1899 after a series of disappointments, Catoire withdrew to the countryside and nearly quit composing entirely. After two years of withdrawal from society, having broken off almost all connections with musical friends, the Op. 7 Symphony emerged in the form of a sextet as a result of this seclusion.

From 1919 on, Georgy Catoire was professor of composition in the Moscow Conservatory. He wrote several treatises on theory and composition during his tenure. Nikolai Myaskovsky considered students of Catoire with great regard.

Today Georgy Catoire is very little known, although a few recordings exist of his piano works by Marc-Andre Hamelin and Alexander Goldenweiser, his violin sonata by David Oistrakh, and others. His music has a certain semblance to the works of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the early Chopinesque works of Alexander Scriabin, and the music of Gabriel Fauré. Catoire demands a high degree of virtuosity and an ear for instrumental colour.

Georgy Catoire is the uncle of author and musician Jean Catoire .

Selected works

Op. 1 no. 4 Lied for voice and piano on Lermontov's Нет, не тебя так пылко я люблю...
Op. 2 Trois Morceaux for piano: 1. Chant intime, E major 2. Loin du Foyer, E♭ major 3. Soiree d'Hiver D major
Op. 3 Caprice for piano G flat major
Op. 5 "Rusalka" cantata for solo voice, women's chorus, orchestra
Op. 6 Six Morceaux for piano: 1. Rêverie, A major 2. Prélude, G flat major, 3. Scherzo, B flat major 4. Paysage, A major 5. Intermezzo, B flat major 6. Contraste, B minor
Op. 7 Symphony
Op. 8 Vision (Etude) for piano
Op. 9 no. 1 Lied for voice and piano on Apukhtin's Опять весна
Op. 9 no. 4 Lied for voice and piano on Apukhtin's Вечер
Op. 10 Cinq Morceaux for piano: 1. Prelude 2. Prelude 3. Capriccioso 4. Reverie 5. Legende
Op. 11 no. 1 Lied for voice and piano on Lermontov's Песнь Русалки
Op. 11 no. 4 Lied for voice and piano on A. Tolstoy's Не ветер, вея с высоты...
Op. 12 Quatre Morceaux for piano: 1. Chant du soir 2. Meditation 3. Nocturne 4. Etude fantastique
Op. 14 Piano Trio in F minor
Op. 15 First sonata for violin and piano
Op. 16 Quintet in c minor for two violins, viola, and two violoncellos
Op. 17 Quatre Morceaux for piano
Op. 19 no. 1 Lied for voice and piano on F. Tiutchev's Как над горячею золой...
Op. 19 no. 2 Lied for voice and piano on F. Tiutchev's Silentium! (Молчание!)
Op. 20 Second sonata for violin and piano Poem
Op. 21 Piano Concerto
Op. 23 String quartet
Op. 24 Chants du Crepuscle for piano
Op. 26 Elegie for violin and piano
Op. 29 no. 3 Lied for voice and piano on F. Tiutchev's Сей день, я помню...
Op. 29 no. 6 Lied for voice and piano on F. Tiutchev's Полдень
Op. 30 Valse for piano
Op. 31 Piano Quartet in A minor
Op. 32 no. 4 Lied for voice and piano on K. Balmont's Слова смолкали...
Op. 33 Six poems by Vladimir Soloviev for voice and piano
Op. 34 Quatre Morceaux for piano: 1. Poeme 2. Poeme 3. Prelude 4. Etude
Op. 35 Tempete for piano
Op. 36 Etude for piano
Concert transcription of J.S. Bach's Passacaglia in C minor for piano


Source: Wikipedia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2007)

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

Gyorgy Catoire: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Georgy Catoire (Wikipedia)




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