Born: Jun 11, 1902 in Omsk, Russia
Dead: May 28, 1963 in Moscow, Russia
Genres: Chamber Music, Orchestral, Symphony
Vissarion Shebalin finished his basic schooling at the Omsk gymnasium. In 1920, he simultaneously enrolled in two very different schools: the local Institute of Agriculture and a provincial music college. By 1923, however, music had prevailed, and Shebalin entered Nikolay Myaskovsky's composition class at the Moscow Conservatory. Shebalin's student compositions, mainly chamber works, were favorably received, though some critics drew attention to "the strong influence of the French impressionists," adding that "this stylization was deliberately introduced by the composer, but it is not always sufficiently sustained."
Shebalin graduated in 1928, offering his 1925 symphony in three movements as his diploma work. He also began to teach at the Moscow Conservatory, gaining a professorship in 1935 and acting as dean of the composition faculty from 1940 - 1941. It was Shebalin, too, who steered the conservatory through the war years, becoming its director in 1942 and continuing in the post until 1948. Then, although a recipient of many honors, he was suddenly dismissed, a victim of Zhdanov's purge of artists whose "formalist tendencies" were viewed as politically incorrect. As Shostakovich later recalled, "Shebalin suffered deeply and painfully under this highly unjustified dismissal."
As punishment, Shebalin was demoted to a subordinate role and forced to teach at a bandmasters' school. However, he was allowed to return to his Conservatory job in 1951. Shebalin suffered a debilitating near-fatal stroke in 1953, which left him partially paralyzed on his right side. Nevertheless he continued to teach and compose, also learning to write with his left hand. Vissarion Shebalin found fame and widespread success only in the last decade of his life. His opera Ukroshcheniye stroptivoy (The Taming of the Shrew) was staged in 1957 and praised throughout the Soviet Union as a masterpiece. Shebalin died in 1963.
- Michael Jameson (All Music Guide)