Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevski  Biography

Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevski, better known historically as Dmitri Kabalevski (St. Petersburg, 30 December 1904 – Moscow, 14 February 1987). Musician, Pianist, Modern Composer and Russian Music Master, considered one of the leading musical figures of the Soviet Union, as well as part of the first generation of composers of the Soviet Union.

He is also remembered for his role as one of the founders and members of the Soviet Composers’ Union. Among his best known and famous works are his compositions for children, being one of the pioneers of teaching and connecting infants with Music, developing skillful teaching methods, which have served as a pedagogical base in several countries of the world.

Early Life

Dmitri Kabalevski was born on December 30, 1904, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Few of his childhood is known. In 1918 he moved with his family to Moscow, where he finished his secondary studies.

From his early years he showed great interest and talent for the arts, attending painting classes from a young age. He also played the piano very well and wrote Poetry. However, his father, who was a mathematician and working for an insurer, insisted that he study mathematics.

To please him, in 1922, Kabalevski entered the Engels Institute, located in Moscow, in order to study Economics, an activity he carried in parallel with his musical training, which he developed at the Scriabin Institute, where he remained from 1919 to 1925.

Music Career

In 1925, against his father’s will, he left Economics and entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he had the opportunity to study composition with the renowned composer Nikolai Myaskovxky, as well as Piano with Alexandre Goldenweiser. Among his first creations are Alexandre Blok’s Three Melodies, inspired by one of his poems and written in 1927. That same year he wrote a Piano Sonata No. 1.

In 1928 he composed the String Quartet No. 1 and a Piano Concerto. Likewise, in 1930 he created the Sonatina for piano in C. In 1932 he began teaching Composition at the Moscow Conservatory, quickly gaining a great reputation as a Master. In 1939 he was appointed Professor of the Conservatory.

His career as a musical teacher focuses especially on children, writing for them works for pianos, considered truly pedagogical tools, among which they distinguish “The Life of a Pioneer” composed in 1934, “The Collection of Pieces easy for beginners” and “Thirty Children’s Parts”, written between 1937 and 1938, as well as the “24 preludes” composed in 1943, and the 24 easy pieces, created a year later, in 1944.

From this time it is also his Piano Concerto No. 2, written in 1935, as well as his opera “Su Colas Breugnon”, created in 1936, being one of his best known pieces. Also in 1940 he wrote his suite “Los Coloques”.

After his political accession to the Communist Party in 1940, Kabalevski began to hold various administrative positions for the government, becoming a true personality of the Soviet musical world.

That same year, he served as founder and Secretary of the Union of Composers of the USSR, as well as senior editor of the state music publishing house, called Muzguiz. He also worked as editor of Sovietskai Musika magazine, Head of the Music Department of the Soviet Radio Commission, as well as Head of the Music Section of the Institute of Art History at the Academy of Sciences.

After World War II he toured music in several European countries. In 1959 he was part of a small delegation of Soviet musicians who traveled to the United States. In 1969 he became President of the Scientific Council of Pedagogical Aesthetics at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR. Also in 1972 he was appointed President of the International Society Musical Association.

He also served as a spokesman for the musical politics of the Soviet state. His work and performance earned him several awards: In 1940, he was endowed with the Order of Merit.

He was subsequently awarded four different occasions with the Stalin State Prize, which he received in 1946 for his work Second String Quartet; in 1949, for his Violin Concerto, and in 1951 for his work “The Family and Taras”. Also, in 1963 he was honored with the people’s artist award and in 1965 with the Order of Lenin.


From 1948, he adhered as a musician to the political orientations on artistic creation, enacted that year. His work will express the traditional forms of Russian culture, as well as popular music, as well as in his music he will illustrate moments and historical characters important to the Soviet Union, such as his First Symphony, written in 1932 for the fifteen years of the Bolshevik Revolution, or his “Requiem” composed for the tenth commemoration of the departure of Vladimir Lenin.

Among these compositions are his Piano Concertos, written in 1952 and 1975, his Violin Concerto of 1948, as well as two Concertos for Viloncello, dating from 1948 and 1964. According to the critics these works are characterized by their humor and joy. His works also include pieces composed for ballets, choirs, incidental music for radio and theater. Compositions for silent films, as well as operas, suits and symphonies.


Despite his creativity, Kabelevski says he feels more comfortable creating children’s compositions. His interest in teaching Music in the early stages of life made him become an excellent Master, his techniques and compositions, perhaps his greatest contribution to musical pedagogy.

His writings have been edited in the United States, under the title Music and Education: A composer writes about music education, becoming a guide to teaching this discipline for children. Likewise, his prolific composition, with children as north, makes him one of the greatest feeders of children’s musical repertoires. He died in Moscow on 18 February 1987.

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Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevski  Biography
Source: Education  
August 6, 2019

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