Vassily Safonoff was born in 1852 in Itsyrusk, Russia. He studied locally and then went to the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1878 to 1880. 1880 found Safonoff making his debut in St. Petersburg. A year later, he became an instructor at the Conservatory where he had been a pupil. He remained there until 1885, when he moved on to the Moscow Conservatory, where he was Director for 17 years. Safonoff was a succesful conductor, performer and teacher. His success reached beyond the USSR and extended into Europe and the U.S. Aside from Josef Lhevinne and Rosina Lhevinne, some of Safonoff's pupils included Alexander Scriabin and Julius Isserlis. Safonoff died in 1918.