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Paul Pabst (Composer, Arranger)

Born: May 15 1 (or 27 2), 1854 - Königsberg, Germany (now Kalinigrad the enclave of Russia surrounded by the E.C.)
Died: May 16/17 1 (or June 9 2), 1897 - Moscow, Russia

The German/Russian pianist, composer and teacher, Christian George Paul [Pavel Augustivich] Pabst, studied piano with his father, violinist, pianist and conductor August Pabst later in Dresden and with Anton Door in the Academy of Music and Lyric Arts in Vienna and spent some time with Franz Liszt in Weimar. His performing career was established by the age of 11 when he accompanied touring the singers and violinists of the period. Paul’s mother, Pauline Condee was an opera singer, and brother Louis, pianist-composer who, after as spell at the Liverpool Philharmonic went to Australia and worked in the first Conservatoire in Melbourne where he taught Percy Grainger.

From 1875 Paul Pabst taught piano in Riga, going to Moscow in 1878, at the invitation of Nicholas Rubinstein, to join the Moscow Conservatoire as a piano teacher. He was made Professor in 1881 and professor of the high degree in 1886 and he remained teaching at the Conservatoire until his early death in 1897. He was one of the greatest ever teachers of piano, his students formed Russian Piano School for the 20th century. No less than 8 Professors of Piano for Moscow and St Petersburg Conservatoires were trained by him.

Married to Olga Gelink, also known as Alexandra Petrovna who survived her husband by more than ten years. Their childless marriage was a home, for a while, to Bouyukli, the illegitimate son of Nicholas Rubinstein and Polish pianist Lebedeva-Gertzevich, teacher of Sofronizkij. The change of the names of both Pabst and his wife suggest they were Jews who were christianized to allow them to work in Moscow. In the same way that both Anton and Nicholas Rubinstein changed their religion.

Paul Pabst was a prolific composer, remembered chiefly for his brilliant 'paraphrases' for the pianoforte of operatic music, especially that of Tchaikovsky Eugene Oniegin.

Paul Pabst was deliberately denigrated and his music deemed worthless by the musical establishment, to protect the reputation of Tchaikovsky. Recent revelations about the relationship between the two show that Pabst was appointed by Tchaikovsky to edit and improve his piano works in 1884 and that Pabst is also the virtuoso that Tchaikovsky admitted (but never named) who assisted him in the completion of his first piano concerto. Pabst himself wrote a Piano Concerto Op 82 and a Trio dedicated to Anton Rubinstein. Tchaikovsky called Pabst “a pianist blessed by God” to whom he dedicated part of Op. 72 - Polacca de Concert.

Sergei Rachmaninov was not a student of Paul Pabst as he left the conservatoire after completing his lower degree. However Pabst provided the opportunity for S. Rachmaninov to play with him the Fantasy Tableau Op. 5 for two pianos. In gratitude S. Rachmaninov dedicated his Op. 10 to Paul Pabst.

Paul Pabst died suddenly in 1897 in Moscow and was buried in the German Cemetery in Moscow. His funeral wreath from the Russian Musical Society contained the epitaph: To Honored Artist - Indefatigable Professor - Hardly simply a man.

1. Paul Pabst Website (Authors: Professor A.M Merkulov & Olga Bobrovnikova)
2. Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2007)

Bach-Pabst: Paul Pabst | Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Paul Pabst (Official Website)

Sheet music downloads: Paul (Pavel) Pabst



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