The Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Sergey Lyapunov was the son of a celebrated mathematician and astronomer. His father died when Sergey was eight, and in 1870, he and his mother settled in Nizhniy Novgorod, home of Balakirev, the founder of the Russian national school of composition and who was known as one of the "Mighty Handful." Lyapunov studied piano and violin as a child, but was badly taught, resulting in poor technique that had to be corrected when he enrolled at the Moscow Conservatory in 1878. His main piano teacher there was Karl Klindworth, a disciple of Liszt. Lyapunov was also one of Tchaikovsky's last composition students before his resignation from the conservatory, after which he trained with Nikolay Gubert and Sergey Taneyev. After graduating in 1883, Lyapunov was introduced to Balakirev and relocated to St. Petersburg in 1885.
Lyapunov soon became the most important member of Balakirev's coterie and with the elder composer's encouragement, the younger man's self-effacement was gradually overcome and he began to publish his own works, concluding a lucrative financial arrangement with the publisher Zimmermann in 1899. Earlier, Lyapunov, together with Balakirev and Lyadov, secured funding from the Imperial Geographical Society, enabling them to collect folksongs from the regions of Vologda, Vyatka, and Kostroma. Some 300 songs were subsequently published by the society in 1899, several with Lyapunov's piano accompaniment. Lyapunov became a director of Balakirev's Free Music School in 1905 and after Balakirev's death in 1910, Lyapunov gave classes in theory and piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He moved to Paris in 1923, where he died after suffering a coronary one year later.