November 28, 1829 - November 20, 1894
Rubinstein was born in Podolsk Russia to Jewish parents. At the age of 4 his grandfather ordered the family to convert to Russian Orthodox Christianity because Jews at the time were not permitted to travel freely. For this reason, Rubinstein's ethinic identity as a Jew was compromised. At 5 his mother began instructing him and his brother on the piano. Both boys progressed quickly and by age 14 Rubinstein had played for Chopin, Liszt, and Tzar Nicholas I.
Because of his mixed ethnic heritage, the 'Russianness' of Rubinstein's work has been called into question by critics. In 1862 he opened the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, the first Russian school for music. Rubinstein made sure that the school's focus was on Russian music, which surprised most people, who expected him to teach other European and Germanic composers.
He is best known for his work as a touring keyboardist, but also composed operas, single instrument concertos, and symphonies. His most famous works include the Fourth Piano Concerto (1864), The Demon (1871), and Ivan the Terrible (1869) .
See other composers from the Romantic period