The Kennedy Center

Sergei Liapunov


Russian pianist, conductor and composer Sergei Liapunov was born in 1859 to a mathematician father and his brothers became influential in science, but his mother was a pianist who fostered Liapunov's musical interest.
After his father died Liapunov's family moved from Yaroslavl to Nizhny-Novgorod where he enrolled in the Russian Musical Society.  In 1878 Liapunov moved to Moscow to study piano and also learned composition with Nikolai Hubert and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
Liapunov had been attracted to the music of Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, but they were not as known in Moscow as the more western-oriented works of Tchaikovsky and Sergei Taneyev.  Torn between Tchaikovsky and radical composers, including Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Liapunov had to decide which to follow.  So in 1884 he declined a teaching position at the Moscow Conservatory, moving to St. Petersburg to work with Mily Balakirev. In 1893 they collaborated on a collection of folksongs from northern Russia, with these influences seen in other arrangements, including the 10th of the Twelve Transcendental Etudes, Op. 11, Lezhginka, dedicated to the memory of Franz Liszt.
In 1894 Liapunov succeeded Rimsky-Korsakov as assistant director of the imperial chapel. In 1902 he became inspector at the Elena Institute and also director of the Free School of Music from 1905. He later taught piano and music theory at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and was a lecturer at the State Institute of Art.  His later career saw success as a concert pianist and conductor.
Besides many short piano pieces, Liapunov wrote extended works, such as Piana Sonata op 27. In addition, he helped produce a complete edition of Mikhail Glinka's works and wrote articles on Balakirev.
Because of dislike for the Soviet regime Liapunov immigrated in 1923 to Paris, teaching Russian émigrés. He died in 1924. 
Sergei Liapunov