Alexander Tikhonovich Grechaninov

Born in 1864, in the small town of Kaluga, south-west (and these days, practically a suburb of) Moscow, and died an American citizen at the advanced age of over 91, in New York, as recently as 1956. Grechaninov studied with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who conducted his first symphony in 1895. The New Grove calls his style ‘decadent’, more reminiscent of Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky than Mussorgsky. In any event, he’s probably most well-known these days for his liturgical choral works than for much else.

The usual issues of how you catalogue a Russian apply. His full Cyrillic name is Алекса́ндр Ти́хонович Гречани́нов, which can be transliterated as ‘Alexandr Tikhonovich Grechaninov’ -which happens to be precisely how the New Grove does spell his names! The New Grove also does not bracket or otherwise indicate optionality for the Patronymic (middle) name, so it should be used. The real trouble, however, on this occasion is his first name: in English, we’d use ‘Alexander’ more than ‘Alexandr’, for example. Wikipedia also lists him as ‘Alexander’; but the New Grove drops the final ‘e’, and thus catalogues him as ‘Alexandr’. The Encyclopedia Britannica opts for Aleksandr, just to mix things up a little! Last.fm is its usual incoherent self, offering practically all conceivable options -but with the majority of listeners seeming happy with the ‘Alexander’ version.

Unfortunately, the New Grove is not exactly consistent on the way it transliterates Cyrillic names! If we check up on Borodin, for example, we find that his first name in Cyrillic is spelled Александр, and therefore matches Grechaninov’s first name exactly -yet, the New Grove renders Borodin as ‘Alexander’, with the final ‘e’. If it is going to include it for Borodin, I cannot quite see why it should be dropped in the case of Grechaninov -and, accordingly, I’m going to make the rare decision to believe the New Grove is wrong in the case of Grechaninov. Alexander Tikhonovich Grechaninov it is on this website it is, then. Incidentally, the accent in the surname is on the third syllable. It’s Grechan-een-ov, not (for example) Grech-anne-inov.


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(since January 9th 2021)

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