Gerald Ginther - People - NCRE - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Gerald Ginther

Gerald Ginther


(European Studies) Thesis Student

Thesis Title

Twentieth Century Russian/Soviet art music as part of European High Culture: A Case Study: Soviet Composer Reinhold Glière’s Life and Work.


  • B.Mus (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
  • B.Mus (First Class Honours) (University of Canterbury)
  • MA (Merit) (Russian, University of Canterbury)
  • FTCL (Flute)
  • Dip.Tchg(Christchurch Teachers’ College)


National Centre for Research on Europe

Room 449

Contact Details

Postal Address

c/o National Centre for Research on Europe
Level 4 Commerce Building
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
New Zealand

Research Interests

Russian/Soviet music history, Central European music and literature, Slavonic culture, Russian/Ukrainian history and politics, German history and culture.

Details of Research

Soviet composer Reinhold Glière was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1874 and studied violin and composition at first the Kiev and then the Moscow Conservatories graduating in 1900. Unlike his famous contemporaries - legendary pianist composer Sergei Rachmaninov and long-time Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Sergei Koussevitzky, Glière remained in Russia after the 1917 Revolution. Subsequently his place in music history leaves him largely ignored in the twenty first century. He was overlooked by the Soviet conductors who were able to travel to the West and champion Shostakovich and Prokofiev. His major advocate in the West had been Leopold Stokowski who performed and recorded Glière’s Symphony No. 3 Ilya Muromets with his Philadelphia Orchestra. More recently Sir Edward Downes Conductor Emeritus of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Manchester and his successor Vassily Sinaisky have performed the Glière symphonies the latest instance being a BBC Proms Concert in 2007 where the  Third Symphony was performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

This thesis looks at how Glière is perceived through the prism of European culture and also examines the question why the works of Shostakovich and Prokofiev have enjoyed increased prominence but Glière has not. Glière was a representative of the last generation of Russian composers to be educated before the 1917 Revolution. Unfortunately Glière’s music has largely slipped into oblivion in the West and is little played even in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine although there is some evidence that former Soviet states such as Uzbekistan hold Glière and his music with some reverence. There is no doubt that the quality of the music deserves wider recognition but perhaps Glière’s image has suffered as being too close to the Soviet regime. He was not subject to the harsh criticism of Zhdanov in 1948 unlike Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian. Many critics in the United Kingdom have often been dismissive when writing about his music but has their criticism been driven by Cold War politics rather than the music itself?

Glière’s European links were strong - he was born of a German father and a Polish mother. He was baptized as a Lutheran and spent his honeymoon in Venice. After the 1905 revolution in Russia Glière spent several years in Germany. After the 1917 Revolution however, Glière never returned to Europe but instead travelled to some of the newly-formed Soviet republics Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan on music education projects.

As Ukraine prepares itself for eventual EU membership the study of Glière is very relevant and symbolic to Europe’s relationship with Ukraine and also Russia.

Recent Publications:

Recent Conference and workshop papers:

March 2010
Ballet Russe symposium, University of Melbourne, Paper: ‘Stravinsky’s Firebird and its Debt to Rimsky-Korsakov’.

November 2009
New Zealand Musicological Society Conference, University of Canterbury, ‘Musical Diaspora’ Paper: Russian and Polish Musical Diaspora.

Contemporary Europe Research Centre, University of Melbourne: Conference ‘The Europe that was, is, and will be’, Paper: Russian Foreign Policy.

September 2009
Musicological Society of Australia, National Conference, University of Newcastle, NSW ‘Building Bridges’ Paper: Reinhold Glière as bridge-builder – Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan aiding Soviet policies of ethnic awareness.

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