Nikolai Karlowitsch Medtner

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Nikolai Medtner, postcard, (1910)
Two fairy tales . Book cover Ivan Bilibin
Three poems by Nietzsche

Nikolai Karlovich Medtner ( Russian Николай Карлович Метнер * December 24, 1879 . Jul / 5. January  1880 greg. In Moscow ; †  13. November 1951 in London ) was a Russian composer and pianist . He was the cousin of the Russian composer Alexander Goedicke .


Medtner, who had Scandinavian and German ancestors, studied at the Moscow Conservatory from 1892 to 1900 , where he was a piano student with Safonow and Sapelnikow . From 1901 to 1903 he took private composition lessons from Sergei Taneyev . After that he was mainly active as a composer. But he also appeared as a pianist, primarily playing his own works. In 1909 he became professor of piano at the Moscow Conservatory, temporarily resigned in 1910 and took it up again from 1915 to 1919. In 1921 Medtner, an opponent of the October Revolution , emigrated to Germany . He lived in Berlin until 1924 , then near Paris . Extensive concert tours have taken him to the USA and England, among other places . Great Britain, which he visited for the first time in 1928, was the country where he found the most interested public outside his home country. In 1935 he therefore moved to London. From 1946 he was supported by Jayachamaraja Wodeyar , the Maharajah of Mysore , who also promoted recordings of Medtner's works. However, these did not have a good star, as they came out as shellac records (78 min −1 ) shortly before the introduction of long-playing records (33⅓ min −1 ) and then became unsaleable. From 1948 Medtner was also no longer able to take pictures because he had suffered a severe heart attack .


In Medtner's catalog raisonné, work for piano occupies the most important part. His compositions are inspired by German and Russian tradition, but adhere to the romantic style, even against the prevailing zeitgeist of the time. Medtner grew up in an environment of unconditional admiration for German music history, although the exemplary character of German composers is only recognizable as a tendency. The spiritual kinship with Rachmaninoff , with whom he was close friends, cannot be ignored. Rachmaninoff and Medtner each considered the other to be the most important composer of the time. Both stuck strongly to the tonality and rejected the avant-garde of the time (Schönberg, Stravinsky). Technically, both works are equally difficult.

Medtner found his own style very early on, but he was not a pioneer. Even with his first sonata he unmistakably shows his own tonal language. In the later work the contrapuntal complexity increases considerably, while the harmonic language and melodic invention do not fundamentally change. Medtner occasionally notates bizarre rhythmic sentences, always remaining instrumental, even if sometimes less practical than logical. His 14 piano sonatas are considered by many enthusiasts to be the most interesting Russian contribution to the genre, even before those of Scriabin and Prokofiev. However, he never tried his hand at symphonic works, oratorios or operas.

The press gave Medtner the label of "Russian Brahms", a catchphrase that he shares with Alexander Konstantinowitsch Glasunow , Paul Juon and Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev . They all received this nickname because they combined elements of the national Russian school with Western European influences.

On November 23, 1923, he recorded ten piano pieces for the Welte-Mignon reproduction piano in Freiburg , nine of which were his own.

On March 18, 2003 the asteroid (9329) Nikolaimedtner was named after him.


  • Orchestral works
    • Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 33 (1914-18)
    • Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 50 (1926/27)
    • Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor, Op. 60 Ballade (1941–43)
  • Chamber music
    • Violin Sonata No. 1 in B minor op.21 (1909/10)
    • Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major op.44 (1923-26)
    • Violin Sonata No. 3 in E minor, Op. 57 Sonata epica (1935–38)
    • Piano quintet in C major (1904-08, 1944-48)
  • over 100 songs for voice and piano
  • Piano sonatas
    • Sonata in F minor op.5 (1902/03)
    • Sonata Triad op.11: No. 1 in A flat major (1904-06)
    • Sonata Triad op.11: No. 2 in D minor Elegy (1904-06)
    • Sonata Triad op.11: No. 3 in C major (1904-07)
    • Sonata in G minor op. 22 (1909-10)
    • Sonata in C minor op.25 / 1 Fairy Tale Sonata (1911)
    • Sonata in E minor op. 25/2 Nachtwind (1910-12)
    • Sonata in F sharp major op.27 Ballade (1912-14)
    • Sonata in A minor op. 30 (1914)
    • Sonata in A minor op. 38/1 Sonata reminiscenza (1918-20)
    • Sonata in C minor op. 39/5 Sonata tragica (1918-20)
    • Sonata in B flat minor op. 53/1 Sonata romantica (1929–30)
    • Sonata in F minor op. 53/2 Sonate orageuse (1929–31)
    • Sonata in G major op.56 Idylle (1935–37)
  • other piano works
    • numerous cycles of fairy tales
    • Forgotten Wise Men , 3 Cycles op. 38, 39 and 40 (1918-22)
    • 4 novellas op.17 (1908/09)
    • 4 Lyric Fragments, Op. 23 (1910/11)
    • Improvisation No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 47 (1925-26)
    • several unique pieces

CD recordings (pianists)


  • Christoph Flamm:  Metner, Nikolaj Karlovič. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 12 (Mercadante - Paix). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2004, ISBN 3-7618-1122-5 , Sp. 103-105 ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  • Christoph Flamm: The Russian composer Nikolaj Metner. Studies and materials , Verlag Ernst Kuhn, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-928864-24-6 (out of print)
  • Natascha Konsistorum: The composer Nikolaj Medtner - A portrait , Henschel-Verlag Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89487-487-2
  • Barrie Martyn: Nicolas Medtner: His Life and Music , 1995. ISBN 0-85967-959-4
  • Isaak Zetel: Nikolaj Karlovic Medtner - the pianist. His compositional work, his interpretive art and pedagogy (= Edition IME 12). studiopunkt, Sinzig 2003, ISBN 978-3-89564-084-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Christoph Flamm: The Russian composer Nikolaj Medtner. Berlin 1995
  2. ^ Heinrich Lindlar:  Medtner, Nikolai Karlowitsch. In: Friedrich Blume (Hrsg.): The music in past and present (MGG). First edition, Volume 8 (Laaf - Meytus). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 1960, DNB 550439609 , Sp. 1894–1865 (= Digital Library Volume 60, pp. 50064–50067)
  3. ^ Barrie Martyn: Nicolas Medtner: His Life and Music . 1995, p. 153.