The Beauty of Belaieff

Richard Beattie Davis

368 Pages in Full Colour l Large Format (280mm x 220mm)

143 Full Page Colour Plates l Fully Annotated Throughout

Extensive Individual Bibliographies l Composer Chronology

Full List of Works l Comprehensive Index l Hardback + Dustjacket


The printing, editing and scholarly research is both stylish and beautiful but, above all, it is the obvious love and enthusiasm that is to be found on every page for this remarkable figure, often sadly neglected, that makes it such a special book. I love Russian music from that period and have many of those colourful title pages in my collection which I always fondly show to admiring friends whenever the music is taken off the shelves before being played. Now I am able to learn more about their origins.

John Blood, English composer, arranger and publisher

This lavishly produced tome takes as its starting point 143 sumptuous, full page colour plates of title pages from Russian music publisher Mitrofan Belaieff. These plates are the fruits of the indefatigable collector and Russophile musicologist Richard Beattie Davis. Here is a work of real scholarship and research, and a valuable, not to mention highly decorative, addition to the bookshelf of any serious enthusiast of Russian music and music publishing

Robin Zabeida, pianist, lecturer and examiner

I consider Richard Beattie Davis's book "The Beauty of Belaieff" a great contribution to the history of the Russian Musical Culture. It testifies to its author's great knowledge and, most important, of his love of the Russian Art, both musical as well as visual.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Conductor of many of the world's most famous orchestras, and for more than thirty years, .Chair of Conducting at the Moscow Conservatoire,  Maestro Rozhdestvensky regularly leads master-classes in various countries

I want to express my gratitude for what Richard  has done for Russian music!..  We will all miss and remember him.

Vladimir Jurowski. Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Principal guest conductor of the Russian National Orchestra

“The Beauty of Belaieff” is a history of an outstanding music publisher during one of the most fascinating eras in Russian music. The history is recreated from numerous original editions of operas, orchestral works, piano, and chamber music by the well-known, lesser known, and often forgotten composers. The format of the book, full of exquisite reproductions of title pages, serves the purpose of not only making public the invaluable materials, but, most importantly, making them "talk and sound," and to bring into spotlight the full palette of the work of the remarkable publisher.  The book is based on an immensely rich collection of Belaieff's first editions, some of which I have been privileged to see -- Richard Beattie Davis has spent decades meticulously gathering, preserving, and researching this collection, and it has no comparisons anywhere in the world, including Russia.

Elena Sorokina, Pianist, Musicologist, Professor, Head of the Russian Music History Program, Vice-President of the Moscow Conservatory.

This is one of the most sumptuous and magnificent books ever issued about the activities of a music publisher. It includes spectacular full-page colour reproductions of the elaborate decorative title pages with which Belaieff liked to adorn his editions of works by Russian composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Taneyev and countless others. But The Beauty of Belaieff is much more than a glorious picture book. Richard Beattie Davis was the leading authority on the firm's activities, and his book contains a wealth of bibliographical detail, including information about plate numbers, and also valuable comments on music itself.

As well as publishing some famous cornerstones of the Russian repertoire – Scheherazade, Prince Igor, Raymonda – Belaieff also produced many pieces that are much less well known, and the information about them in this book is extremely valuable, and encourages exploration of some unusual repertoire.

An Introduction on Russian music publishing puts all Belaieff's activity in a wider context, and endnotes add to the exactitude of the book. In short, The Beauty of Belaieff really is a thing of beauty, but also essential reading for anyone interested in the history of this fabulous period in Russian music. This is a book I shall always look at with the most extraordinary pleasure, inspired by the wisdom and enthusiasm of its author.

Prof. Nigel Simeone, Chair of Historical Musicology, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom


Richard Beattie Davis' long-awaited 'The Beauty of Belaieff' is a wide-ranging study of music and music publishing in pre-revolutionary Russia. The book is also a receuil of the brightly coloured title pages that adorned the first editions of Mitrofan Petrovich Belaieff (1836-1903/4); there are in this book no less than 145 full-page colour facsimile plates, the jewels of a vast collection of printed music in the hands of the author.


The Beauty of Belaieff is designed for easy reference and will be treasured by scholars, students, performers and anyone interested in this extraordinary, fecund - and decadent - period of Russian cultural history. The book, true to the spirit of the main protagonist, is extravagantly bound in hardback and printed on high-grade paper with the text and the full colour plates generously spaced over 367 pages. It is a valuable and permanent addition to any library.


Julian Gallant, East-West Review, The Journal of the Great Britain-Russia Society. Summer edition 2008 (View the complete review here)


David Brown wrote an excellent entry in the 1980 New Grove (on Taneyev) and most important of all, the late Richard Beattie Davis has written a uniquely perceptive article in The Beauty of Belaieff, published in 2008. This is a truly staggering book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Robert Max A.R.A.M., Cellist of the Barbican Piano Trio, Principal Cellist of the London Chamber Orchestra, Musical Director of the Oxford Symphony Orchestra, Honorary Professor of the Rachmaninov Institute in Tambov, Russia



Richard Beattie Davis’ long awaited volume is the result of many years of painstaking research underpinned by a lifetime of engagement in Russian musical culture by one of its most devoted and astute commentators. The breadth and scope of his enquiry will be of immense interest to those involved not just in Russian and European musicology, but to specialists and students alike of Russian visual culture, and of course to the life and work of the extraordinarily perspicacious Mitrofan Belaieff. This is, and will doubtless remain, the authoritative work in its field and will prove of seminal importance to all devotees of the Russian arts.


Professor David Jackson, Head of School, Professor of Russian and Scandinavian Art Histories, School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

The Beauty of Belaieff is a must for all lovers of Russian music. It should inspire the reader to seek out scores and recordings of works by lesser known composers, as well as those by Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov & Skryabin. The superb chromo-lithographed title pages reproduced in large numbers, make the book a visual delight.

Malcolm Binns, Concert Pianist

Suffice it to say Richard's book only gets better the more I look through it, and it continually tells me things I didn't know. Such depth, as well as accessibility. A rare combination we all strive for but which few attain.

David Jackson, Leeds University

Now that I have examined closer your volume on Belaieff, I must say  that the reproductions are of such excellent quality. Your text, both for the introduction and for the biographies, gives a wonderful insight into the background of the composers together with the publication of their works. It is interesting from an historical rather than a music-analytical point of view. The volume is thus not just a 'nice' book, but also a valuable reference tool which should find a place in every serious library.

Christel Wallbaum, H.Baron Books, London, England.

Congratulations on Richard's awesome achievement regarding his scholarly masterpiece.

 Jürgen Söllner. Head of the Schwabach Town Museum, Germany

I am finding the book absolutely enthralling, not only is it beautifully produced and laid out, it is packed with fascinating information, most of which I didn't know. I am finding it very difficult to put it down and get any practising done. Without a shadow of a doubt it is one of the most important and interesting books about Russian music to have appeared in many years.

James Kirby - pianist, Visiting teacher at Royal Holloway, University of London.

How wonderful to have this vital information collected together and so comprehensively presented. The plates of the publications are so beautiful. The work of this great publisher deserves to be more widely acknowledged; there is so much music around today that would never have been composed had it not been for him, and now thanks to Richard's hard work we will be able at last to examine the full picture. I have to say it is magnificent in every respect. So far I have managed to read the introductions and the notes about some of the composers (Taneyev, of course), and the prints are just beautiful. It must be one of the most important books on Russian music ever printed, certainly in the English language. The level of scholarship and the authority with which it is written is marvellous.

Robert Max A.R.A.M., Cellist of the Barbican Piano Trio, Principal Cellist of the London Chamber Orchestra, Musical Director of the Oxford Symphony Orchestra, Honorary Professor of the Rachmaninov Institute in Tambov, Russia

The Beauty of Belaieff contains a wealth of knowledge about one of the richest periods of Russian music. Each of the individual biographical profiles brings the composer to life through his works and contacts with friends, and provides insight into his character. The beautiful color plates, many of them very rare, are a visual feast as well as being invaluable documentary evidence of the Belaieff publications. Richard Beattie Davis has enriched our understanding of the personalities and period of late 19th century Russian music with this splendid book.

Barbara Barry, Professor of Musicology, Conservatory of Music, Lynn University, Florida, USA.

This exquisite book has been put together with the utmost care and attention to detail, and the painstaking research that has gone into it makes for a fascinating and readable experience. The vivid plates are worthy of a book of their own! I very much hope that Richard Beattie-Davis will garner fellow-enthusiasts for Belaieff's stable of somewhat lesser-known Russian composers, and that it will stimulate an interest in hearing the works that he has written about with such inspiration and authority.

Annette Isserlis, Viola-player, Professor RCM and RNCM, Recording-producer. England. 

In producing this definitive reference work, Richard Beattie Davis has done what no other musicologist, not even in Russia, has ever done…he has managed to bridge the wide gap in the study of Russian Music at its most fertile and crucial moments by shedding light on the legacy of M.P. Belaieff (1836-1903/4), one of its pivotal figures. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about music and is interested in Music History, Lithography, Ballet, Opera and Russian Music and its composers in particular.

Dmitry Rachmanov, Associate Professor of Piano,  Chair of Keyboard Studies, California State University Northridge, Founding member/Board of Directors: Scriabin Society of America

My sincerest congratulations on your recent book launch! So many across the world will thank you for years to come for your searches and careful endless hours of work to share the incredible beauty in your priceless collection! I feel so privileged to have visited the library (at Florida Atlantic University) and personally seen these amazing scores and editions. Your dedication to the noble cause of sharing your research will bring such joy to countless people. I am very excited to purchase the book as soon as it is available!

Judy Leonard, Piano teacher, Washington DC

Thank you and congratulations on your incredible achievement. This will inspire musicians and historians for years to come.

Marc Reese - Empire Brass

At long last, this long awaited body of work is available to the public, the fruit of a lifetimes work and passion. The importance of Belaieff's legacy to our understanding of Russian music cannot be underestimated and this timely publication fills a gap in the literature at a time when Russian music is becoming ever more popular. Richard Beattie Davis' extensive research in this area - and he has left no stones unturned - exposes how much more there is yet to be learnt about, and listened to, from this explosive period of Russian music history.

Daniel Grimwood, Pianist, England

If you attended the From Russia exhibition at London’s Royal Academy in 2008 you will have marvelled not only at the works but also at the foresight of the collector-patrons such as Morozov and Shchukin. M.P. Belaieff was their musical equivalent, a plutocrat who supported a whole generation of Russian composers - Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Glazunov, and Skryabin to name just a few. If sheet music was the crucial medium for the promotion of music, it was Belaieff’s great contribution, without regard to commercial return, to maintain the tradition of extravagant title pages. Richard Beattie Davis’ The Beauty of Belaieff is the fruit of years of scholarship and will remain the authoritative work on the publisher. The book is much more than a catalogue; it is a window on life in fin de siècle Russia with all its extravagance and creativity. The Beauty of Belaieff is a welcome and fascinating volume for a wide and not necessarily specialist readership.

Julian Gallant, Director, Pushkin House, London, England

It is a fact that players rarely pay attention to such things as readability, layout or page turns unless there is a problem. But for those who have, the editions published by M.P. Belaieff before the Russian Revolution are widely regarded to be the best of their kind. Now appears a very interesting book---The Beauty of Belaieff  by Richard Beattie Davis---which describes the painstaking care and attention to artistic detail which Belaieff took in publishing his editions. The Belaieff editors not only worked to create the most readable and best laid out editions for their musician customers, but also strove to create gorgeous cover pages which rose to an extremely high artistic level. These lovely cover pages, as Davis tells us in his introduction, were meant to create a visual picture and mood about the work on whose front they have appeared.  The Beauty of Belaieff combines a fascinating narrative on Belaieff and the composers he published while at the same time presenting well over 100 examples--vivid color plates--- of the spectacular frontispieces that adorned so many of the Belaieff editions. This is a highly informative work which is also a treat for the eyes.

R.H.R. Silvertrust, Editor, The Chamber Music Journal





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