Serov, Aleksandr

Serov, Aleksandr [Серов, Александр], b 23 January 1820 in Saint Petersburg, d 1 February 1871 in Saint Petersburg. Russian composer, musicologist, and critic. A lawyer by training and initially by profession, he became one of the leading Russian musicians of the mid-19th century and perhaps the foremost music critic of his day. A strong promoter of ‘Russian’ music, he also used Ukrainian themes and prepared a study of Ukrainian music for the journal Osnova (Saint Petersburg) in 1861. His Ukrainian works include the opera May Night, based on Nikolai Gogol’s stories (written in 1852–3 but never produced and later destroyed); several fragments (‘Hopak,’ ‘Hrechanyky,’ and ‘Zaporozhian Cossack Dance’) from his unrealized opera Taras Bul'ba; ‘Little Russian Dances’ for piano; and arrangements of numerous Ukrainian folk songs for chorus and orchestra. In 1861 he conducted a symphony concert in Saint Petersburg to raise money for the family of his deceased friend, Taras Shevchenko.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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