Yelena Glazunova

Tchaikovsky Research
Yelena Glazunova (1846-1925)

Mother of the composer Aleksandr Glazunov (b. 1846; d. 1925), born Yelena Pavlovna Turygina (Елена Павловна Турыгина); known after her marriage as Yelena Pavlovna Glazunova (Елена Павловна Глазунова).

Yelena was the daughter of Pavel Andreyevich Turygina and his wife Yelena Sergeyevna (b. Gromova). On 25 October 1863 in Saint Petersburg, she married Konstantin Ilyich Glazunov (1828–1914), the scion of a notable dynasty of book publishers. Their eldest child was the Russian composer Aleksandr Glazunov (1865–1936). Deeply fond of music as she was, Yelena, even after the birth of Aleksandr, continued to have piano lessons with Teodor Leszetycki, a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In the latter half of the 1870s Mily Balakirev became her musical mentor, and in later years, apart from the piano, she also studied music theory under the supervision of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. Yelena might have become an accomplished concert pianist had it not been for her anxiety over playing in public. At home, however, she enthusiastically played both piano pieces and transcriptions of symphonic works, which meant that her beloved eldest son, Aleksandr ("Sasha") grew up in a highly musical atmosphere. Professional musicians were frequent guests in the Glazunovs' house, playing at the soirées organized by Yelena.

Although she did not yet imagine that Aleksandr would himself pursue a musical career, in 1879, when he turned fourteen, she asked Balakirev whether he was willing to give him lessons. Balakirev immediately recognized the boy's extraordinary talent and agreed to take charge of his general musical education, while Rimsky-Korsakov was to teach him composition theory. Yelena was at first worried that these lessons would take up too much time and distract him from his studies at school, but Aleksandr was able to convince her that music, rather than carrying on the family business, was his real vocation.

Since Glazunov did not have a family of his own, Yelena continued to look after him devotedly right until her death in 1925.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

One letter from Tchaikovsky to Yelena Glazunova has survived, dating from 1892, and has been translated into English on this website:


  • Andrey Kryukov, Aleksandr Konstantinovich Glazunov (Moscow, 1984)