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Entries / Napravnik E.F., (1839-1916), composer

Napravnik E.F., (1839-1916), composer

Categories / Art/Music, Theatre/Personalia

NAPRAVNIK Eduard Frantsevich (1839-1916, Petrograd), conductor, composer, and musician. Originally from the Czech Republic, he studied at an organ school and under I. F. Kittl, the director of the conservatory, in Prague. He lived in St. Petersburg from 1861, invited by Prince N. B. Yusupov to conduct his home orchestra for a year. He then worked in various roles, as a pianist, organist, choir coach, and assistant bandmaster at Mariinsky Theatre from 1863 and the chief bandmaster of the Russian Opera from 1869. He conducted concerts of the Russian Musical Society from 1864 and the orchestra of Mariinksy Theatre from 1871, charged also with arranging court concerts. He was the presiding director of the Russian Musical Society in St. Petersburg in 1875-81. The last opera he conducted last time was in December 1914. Napravnik managed to change the musical life of the capital for 50 years. He kept searching for young gifted performers, thus, bringing the performances of the orchestra and choir of the court opera to a new level. This high level of performance allowed, in its turn, the introduction of the latest achievements of Russian and European opera. The public placed incredibly high demands upon artists. Napravnik held about 100 performances per season during his first 20 years of work, the figure dropping in 1910s, although, no lower than 50. He had 80 operas in his repertoire by that time. It was under his direction that a number of operas were performed for the first time, such as A. S. Dargomyzhsky's Stone Guest in 1872, M. P. Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov in 1874, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov's Maid of Pskov, Snowmaiden, Mlada, and Christmas Night in 1873, 1882, 1892, and 1895, respectively; P. I. Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans, Queen of Spades, and Iolanta in 1881, 1890, and 1892, respectively; and A. G. Rubinstein's Demon in 1875. It was also due to staging Lohengrin in 1869, Tahnhaeuser in 1873, Tristan and Isolde in 1899 and 1909, and Nibelung's Ring in 1900-05 that the so-called passion for Wagner appeared as a feature of St. Petersburg's symbolism. Lenten subscription performances of Nibelung's Ring held from 1906 onwards became a showpiece of music and art in St. Petersburg. As a conductor, Napravnik had a delicate ear, good memory, desire, and carefulness. He was valued by his artists for protecting their interests and being tactful during rehearsals. Napravnik composed 77 opuses of various genres, from piano pieces and romances to operas, symphonies, cantatas, and a capella choruses. His operas Citizens of Nizhny Novgorod, Harold, Dubrovsky, and Francesca da Rimini composed in 1868, 1886, 1895, and 1902, were staged at the Mariinsky Theatre, Dubrovsky continued to be performed until the mid-20th century. Napravnik became hereditary nobility in 1888. He lived at 16 Ofitserskaya Street in 1865-77 and moved to a house opposite the theatre at 8-6 Kryukov Canal Embankment / 27 Ofitserskaya Square in 1877, where he lived till his death (memorial plaque). He was buried at Novodevichie Cemetery. His name was given to the green-room in Mariinsky Theatre.

Works: Autobiography, Creative Materials, Documents, Letters published in Leningrad in 1959.

Reference: Направник В. Э. Эдуард Францевич Направник и его современники. Л., 1991.

A. L. Porfiryeva.

Dargomyzhsky Alexander Sergeevich
Kittl I.F.
Mussorgsky Modest Petrovich
Napravnik Eduard Frantsevich
Rimsky-Korsakov Nikolay Andreevich
Rubinstein Anton Grigorievich
Tchaikovsky Peter Ilyich
Yusupov Nikolay Borisovich, Duke

Dekabristov St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 16
Kryukova Canal Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 6
Kryukova Canal Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 8

Автобиографические, творческие материалы, документы, письма. Л., 1959
Направник В. Э. Эдуард Францевич Направник и его современники. Л., 1991

The subject Index
Mariinsky Theatre
Musical Society, The Russian
Novodevichye Cemetery
Novodevichye Cemetery