Russian composer Achilles Nikolaevich Alferaki © TaganrogCity.Com
Alferaki, Achilles Nikolayevich, sometimes spelled as Akhilles or Ahilles was a Russian composer and statesman of Greek descent. He was born in 1846 in Kharkov (present-day Ukraine). He spent all of his childhood in the city of Taganrog in the magnificent palace on Catholic Street (currently “Alferaki Palace” on Frunze Street). Achilles received good home education and easily entered the historical and philological faculty at the Moscow University, where he also studied music theory. Music was his favorite pastime, but he could not dedicate all of his time for it. The family business made him return to Taganrog, where he settled in the end of 1870.
In 1880 Achilles Nikolayevich Alferaki was elected Mayor of Taganrog. During his chairmanship he made many useful public affairs. He made Taganrog beautiful and clean and took part in establishing different charitable institutions. During his mayor’s period of office, Taganrog streets and roads were covered with cobblestones, trees were planted along the pavements, and the first boulevards were introduced. Mayor Alferaki contributed to the establishment of the "The Society for the Relief of the Aged Poor", established in 1883, and to development of elementary education system in the city. At the city council meetings, Achilles Nikolaevich Alferaki introduced many new proposals. Some of them looked fantastic and wasteful for Taganrog's politicians, but some of them were realized. For example, Alferaki's proposals to erect a monument to Peter I The Great and to make a major reconstruction of Taganrog's harbor were realized. Even his mayoralty could not make him forget his passion - the music. He took part in the activity of Taganrog's Music and Dramatic Society. The first music classes and a symphony orchestra, directed by famous hand-master and composer V.I. Suk opened in Taganrog.
Alferaki Palace © TaganrogCity.Com
Music lovers like Mayor Alferaki himself helped Taganrog become known as one of the most music-loving cities in the South of Russia. In 1880, when the Greek composer lived in Taganrog in his mansion on the Catholic Street, he gathered the whole beau monde of the city. Achilles Alferaki was also a talented artist. A large collection of caricatures is now kept at the Taganrog Museum of Local Lore (The Alferaki Palace). With these rare sketches and drawings, we have a chance of seeing the people, who lived in Taganrog some hundred years ago through the eyes of a contemporary, getting the spirit of parties and balls of that time.
In 1888 Alferaki gave his resignation and moved to Saint Petersburg, where he became Chancellor of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1891, and later Director of the Russian Telegraph Agency. Alferaki devoted much of his time to music. In the former capital of the Russian Empire he wrote more than 100 romances, compositions and two operas “St. John's Eve” and “The Erl King”. Achilles Alferaki died in 1919.