The 14 greatest composer portraits throughout history

Not only did these composers write immortal music, they inspired history’s great artists to new heights of expression.

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GLINKA BY ILYA REPIN

           

This portrait by Ilya Repin from Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery has become the definitive representation of the father of Russian classical music – and perhaps rightly so. Painted by a legendary portraitist, whose subjects included Nicholas II, Tolstoy and Mussorgsky, it captures Glinka musing on the composition of the opera that would secure his renown – Ruslan and Ludmila. The domestic garb, empty tea glass and strewn papers all speak of a single moment frozen in paint, so it may be a surprise to learn the painting was completed 30 years after the composer’s death in 1857. Repin was too young to have known Glinka. Ironically, the greatest likeness of Glinka comes from a man who never met him.

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This article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Limelight Magazine.

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The 14 greatest composer portraits throughout history
William Walton in a portrait by Michael Ayrton
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