Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov |
(13 April [O.S. 1 April] 1883 - 8 July 1946) Russia
Composer of Soviet National Hymn
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov (aka Aleksandr Vasilevich Aleksandrov) was a Russian Soviet composer, the founder of the Alexandrov Ensemble, who wrote the music for the State Anthem of the Soviet Union, which, in 2000, became the national anthem of Russia (with new lyrics). During his career, he also worked as a professor of the Moscow State Conservatory, and became a Doctor of Arts. His work was recognized by the awards of the title of People's Artist of the USSR and the Stalin Prize.
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, known as Sasha, was born in Plakhino, a village in Ryazan Governorate south-east of Moscow. Alexander had a beautiful voice and loved to sing, memorizing melodies quickly and easily. Alexander Alexandrov had absolute pitch. He was able to recreate any given musical note without external reference. As he sang so well, the boy was often invited to sing at village festivities and weddings. Still a boy his singing was so impressive that he travelled to Saint Petersburg In 1898, where a music professor heard the boy sing and convinced his parents to give him a good musical education.
Thus Alexander Alexandrov became a pupil at the Court Chapel of Saint Petersburg and a choir boy in the Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospekt. to become a chorister at Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospekt. He studied composition at Saint Petersburg and in Moscow.
After graduating from classes at the Court Chapel, he entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In 1902, he fell in love with a girl from his choir, Ksenia Morozova. They got married in 1904. Boris, their first son, was born in 1905. Later, two more sons, Vladimir and Alexander, who died in 1942, and daughter Olga followed. In 1908, the family moved to Moscow, where Alexander Alexandrov studied at the Conservatory and graduated in 1913. He won two silver medals, one in composition, the other in singing.
Afterwards, he worked as soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre, and from 1918 to 1922, in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, upon invitation of Patriarch Tikhon. Beginning in 1918, Alexander Alexandrov taught as professor of music at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. He became truly famous, however, as founder of the Alexandrov Ensemble, which is named after him.
Alexandrov, after founding the Alexandrov Ensemble, spent many years as its director, in which role he first gained favor with Joseph Stalin, the country's ruler during the last two decades of Alexandrov's life. His choir participated successfully in the Universal Exposition of 1937 in Paris, and in 1942, Stalin commissioned him and lyrist Sergey Mikhalkov to create a new Soviet national anthem, which was officially adopted on 1 January 1944. It was very popular, and was used by the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. It later became the National Anthem of Russia in December 2000, with Mikhalkov writing the new lyrics.
He also composed the famous song The Sacred War, and the official march of the Soviet and now Russian Armed Forces, the Song of the Soviet Army. The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, enjoyed listening to their music and asked them to relocate to Moscow.
He died while on tour in Berlin; some records say he was returning from Germany.