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Repertory Archive

Prince Oldenbourg


Born in Yaroslavl, Russia in 1812, Duke Konstantin Friedrich Peter Georgievich of Oldenbourg was a Duke of the House of Oldenbourg . He was the grandfather of Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenbourg and Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, General of the Imperial Russian Army during World War I. His great-great grandson, Nicholas Romanov is the current President of the Romanov Family Association.

Peter of Oldenbourg was a scholar and philanthropist. He was also a talented pianist and composer, and in 1842 he composed his first major piano concerto. In 1844 his second piano concerto was performed for the first time at the Mikhailovsky Palace by the great pianist Clara Schumann, and conducted by his longtime friend and colleague Adolf Henselt.

As with most Russian nobility, Duke Peter was a longtime balletomane and patron of the arts. In 1857 he was commissioned to compose the score for Marius Petipa’s ballet-divertissement La Rose, La Violette et le Papillon, which was given as a performance for the royal court at the Imperial Theatre of Tsarskoe Selo. In 1858 Petipa extracted a Pas de Deux from the Duke’s score and added it to his revival of the ballet Le Corsaire renaming the piece the Pas d’Esclave. It is the only composition of Duke Peter’s still heard today in the theater.

Many of Duke Peter’s compositions were used as educational tools by the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. The composer and teacher Adolf Henselt, a close friend of the Duke’s, expanded on many of his compositions in order to utilize them for instructional purposes.

Oldenbourg died in St. Petersburg in 1881, aged 68.