Boris N. Liatoshinski: The Passionate Slav
Boris Nikolaevich Liatoshinski ( Lyatoshinskiy, Lyatoshinski, Liatoshinsky) was born on January 3, 1895 in Zhitomir and died on April 15, 1968 in Kiev. Liatoshinski was without doubt one of the most talented and original composers of the time under review. There have been many studies devoted to his work, published in many countries, and primarily in his native land. He had a long creative life, with his last years marked by an intensive productivity which included important works such as the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies.
Liatoshinski's father was a history teacher. From early childhood the composer was taught the piano and violin, and began writing very soon after, producing chamber and vocal pieces which were performed by local musicians. He went to the Kiev Conservatoire, and studied with R. M. Gliere from 1913-1919.
From his earliest years, Liatoshinski was attracted to piano music, devoting much time to it. As a student, he had the ability to sight-read works at any level of difficulty. While still in high school, in Zhitomir, he was already composing for the piano; these youthful works are now, unfortunately, lost. It is documented, however, that Liatoshinski performed these in public, and that these performances included a piano quartet in which the piano part was noted for its rich emotional content and texture. The earliest piano work to have survived is the "Funereal Prelude" from 1920, which was written soon after his graduation in composition from the Kiev Conservatoire ( 1919); only the year before he had completed the law course at the Kiev University. Liatoshinski was Gliere's favorite pupil. Already in this early piece there is a sense of stretching the harmonic language, a particular province of Liatoshinski's music, but due to a lack of other early materials, the full extent of this searching for a new harmonic language is now hard to define. Other student works include a string quartet and his First Symphony, which was his graduation piece. With this work he had in fact composed the first Ukrainian symphony ( 1918), which Gliere conducted the following year in Kiev.
After graduating from the Conservatoire, Liatoshinski was appointed to its staff. He achieved full professorship by 1935. From 1935 to 1938 and 1941 to 1944 he also taught at the Moscow Conservatoire, giving courses in instrumentation. From 1948 he held high office at the Union of Composers, remaining active in various committees of the Union. He was chairman of the Ukrainian Union from 1939 on, and in 1938 he was awarded the Order of Merit.