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Valentina Semenovna Serova

composer , music critic , charity worker

Valentina Semyonova Serova was a Russian composer of German-Jewish descent.

Background

Serova, Valentina was born in 1846 in Moscow. Wife of the composer Aleksandr Serov (1820-1871), who taught her, and with whom she later collaborated.

Education

She studied briefly at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, but left due to a conflict with Anton Rubinstein.

Career

She began to study with Alexander Serov, who at that time was only known for his writings. The two fell in love, and Serov proposed shortly after his first big success, the opera Judith. Valentin would grow up to become a famous painter, renowned for his portraits.

Alexander Serov died in 1871 of a heart attack and Valentina completed the last act of his third opera, The Power of the Fiend. She used his sketches and her memory of what Alexander had played to her to finish the work. Composer N.F. Solovyov helped her with some of the instrumentation and editing.

The opera was premiered in 1875. The experience of finishing her husband's opera inspired Serova to compose her own operas. Her first opera, Uriel Acosta, premiered in 1885 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

She had shown the score to Tchaikovsky earlier that year, and he had pointed out a number of faults. Valentina asked him if he would give her some lessons in harmony, but he recommended she seek out the guidance of Anton Arensky instead. Her second opera, Maria d'Orval, was never performed and is considered lost.

Her third opera, Il'ya Muromets, was successfully staged in Moscow with Feodor Chaliapin in the title role in 1899. Serova's fourth and last opera has not been preserved and even the title is now unknown. She died in Moscow in 1924.