Aleksandr Kastalsky

KASTALSKY, Aleksandr Dmitriyevich (b. 16 [28] November 1856, Moscow; d. 17 December 1926, also in Moscow) — from 1876 to 1881 studied theory and com-position at the Moscow Conservatory‚ under P. I. Tchai-kovsky, S. I. Taneyev, and N. A. Gubert; graduated from the Conservatory in 1893. From the year 1887 was connected most closely with the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing, initially as a teacher of piano and conducting, from 1891 as assistant conductor (to V. S. Orlov), from 1900 as one of the precentors (of the left choir), from 1910 as Director of the School. From 1918 to 1926 headed the People’s Choral Academies in Moscow and Petrograd, and continued pedagogical activities. Besides his activity in church music, K. throughout his life worked in the field of musical ethnography, studying the characteristics of the Russian folk song and making arrangements of folk songs.
K. is a seminal figure, who created a new direction in Russian church music. His followers include P. G. Ches-nokov, A. T. Grechaninov, A. V. Nikolsky, Vik. S. Kalinnikov, S. V. Rachmaninoff, K. N. Shvedov, and others. In K.’s sacred musical works, melodies and individual chant formulas of znamenny and other chants are combined with techniques of counter-voice polyphony, drawn from the Russian choral folk song. The skillful use of these peculiarly Russian elements give K.’s works a marked national flavor, while the use of church chants link them to ancient traditions of the church-musical aesthetic.
K.’s published sacred works and arrangements number approximately 175 (many published numbers contain several separate titles); there is also a number of unpublished works, primarily comprising arrangements of various pattern melodies (podobnï). K. also edited the Obikhod Sinodal’novo khora [The Common Book of the Synodal Choir] in 1914. To make the performance of hymns in the so-called “common” chants more meaningful, he compiled the Prakticheskoye rukovodstvo k vïrazitel’nomu peniyu stikhir pri pomoshchi razlichnïkh garmonizatsiy [A practical manual for the expressive singing of stichera with the help of various harmonizations], which selectively applies major and minor harmony in accordance with the meaning and mood of a given liturgical texts.

Works recorded by Archangel Voices: