Kruglikov began his career as a civil engineer, studying of physics and mathematics at Moscow University, and forestry and mining in Saint Petersburg. During the 1870s he began to take lessons in music theory from Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, and assisted Mily Balakirev with running the Free School of Music in the Russian capital. In 1881 he began teaching music theory and harmony, in what was to become the Moscow Philharmonic Society's school of music and drama, becoming professor of composition (1898–1901) and the college director. From 1897 to 1899 he was also director of the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing. However, he is best remembered as a music critic, in which capacity he contributed to various newspapers and journals from the 1880s onwards, including Contemporary News (Современные известия), Art (Искусство), Musical Review (Музыкальное обозрение), Artist (Артист), and New Day (Новости дня).
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
4 letters from Tchaikovsky to Semyon Kruglikov have survived, dating from 1887 to 1889, all of which have been translated into English on this website:
- Letter 3203 – 21 March/2 April 1887, from Moscow
- Letter 3397 – 11/23 November 1887, from Moscow
- Letter 3906 – 22 July/3 August 1889, from Frolovskoye
- Letter 3922 – 16/28 August 1889, from Frolovskoye
3 letters from Kruglikov to the composer, dating from 1887 and 1889, are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.