Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Grechaninov Emigrates to the USA

He was considered a revolutionary in the realms of sacred music, and his life nearly spanned an entire century - Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Aleksandr Grechaninov.

In this final programme, Donald Macleod follows Aleksandr Grechaninov as he emigrates first to Paris, and then to the USA. Before leaving Russia, Grechaninov would start to compose his fourth Symphony opus 102, where he would encapsulate his feelings of sadness over the death of Tchaikovsky. This work is very Russian, but it would not be premiered until 1942 under the direction of John Barbirolli in New York.

Having left Russia, Grechaninov did not stop writing music for the church, and in fact went on to compose a number of works for the Roman Catholic liturgy. In 1937, a few years after his seventieth birthday, Grechaninov entered a competition with a new work, his Missa Festiva opus 154, which won the competition outright.

Grechaninov's biggest contribution to the world of music was in his sacred writing, and towards the end of his life he composed what he considered to be his most significant work, his Missa Oecumenica opus 142, a universal mass. In this work he wished to transcend the traditions of any one form of Christian worship, and combines the text of the Catholic liturgy with Gregorian, Orthodox and Hebrew chants.

Grechaninov became a U.S. citizen in 1949 at the age of eighty-five. On his 90th birthday a concert was held in his honour in the New York town hall - he died a year later.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Fri 16 Sep 2011 18:30

Composer Help Page


Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.

The absurdly talented Herr Mendelssohn


Donald Macleod reveals Mendelssohn's gift for sketching and watercolours.

Composers A to Z


Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.