The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Serge Koussevitzky

02.04.2020
Serge Koussevitzky

Serge Koussevitzky

(1874 – 1951)

The outstanding conductor and musician. For a quarter of a century (1924-1949) he was the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the best orchestra in the world at the time.

Serge Koussevitzky was born in 1874 into a poor Jewish family. After graduating from a musical institute in 1894, the man joined the Bolshoy Theatre where he was a bassist. In 1909 he started his own symphony orchestra and toured around Europe with success. Serge Koussevitzky became one of the major music publishers in Russia: he used his own means to establish “Éditions Russes de Musique” (Russian Publishing House of Music) which published works by composers such as Stravinsky, Debussy, Prokofiev and others.

He could not accept the revolution and in 1920 Koussevitzky left the Soviet Russia. At first, he came to Paris where he organized “The Concerts Koussevitzky” which were a great success in the European music life and were as popular as Diaghilev's 'Ballets Russes'.

In 1924 Koussevitzky left for Boston (USA) and became the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra which was the best orchestra in the world thanks to him. In 1942 the Boston Orchestra conducted by Koussevitzky performed “The Leningrad Symphony” by Shostakovich that was presented in the US for the first time ever. Koussevitzky’s students included Leonard Bernstein, one of the most renowned conductors of the XX c., the author of “The West Side Story” musical.

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