Showing posts from February, 2011

Mikhail Glinka, Biography

Mikhail Glinka was the founder of the nationalist school of Russian composers and is often regarded as the father of Russian classical music. Glinka's compositions were an important influence on future Russian composers, notably the members of the Mighty Five, who took Glinka's lead and produced a distinctive Russian style of music.

Mikhail Glinka was born in 1804 in the village of Novospasskoye, not far from the Desna River, in Smolensk Province in the Russian Empire. His father was a wealthy retired army captain, intelligent and homely; he was busy laying out and modernizing his park so the boy was brought up by his grandmother (his father’s mother) – an autocratic woman, a “thunderbolt” of bondsmen and the whole family.

Mikhail was a feeble, nervous, weak child, manipulated by his grandmother until she died when he was six years old. After that, Glinka was moved to his maternal uncle’s estate 10 kilometers away from home, and once, quite by accident, heard his uncle’s orch…

Alexander Blok: The Twelve

Our sons have gone
to serve the Reds
to serve the Reds
to risk their heads!

O bitter,bitter pain,
Sweet living!
A torn overcoat
an Austrian gun!

-To get the bourgeosie
We'll start a fire
a worldwide fire, and drench it
in blood-
The good Lord bless us!

-O you bitter bitterness,
boring boredom,
deadly boredom.

This is how I will
spend my time.

This is how I will
scratch my head,

munch on seeds,
some sunflower seeds,

play with my knife
play with my knife.

You bourgeosie, fly as a sparrow!
I'll drink your blood,

your warm blood, for love,
for dark-eyed love.

God, let this soul, your servant,
rest in peace.

Such boredom!

... On they march with sovereign tread...
‘Who else goes there? Come out! I said
come out!’ It is the wind and the red
flag plunging gaily at their head.

The frozen snow-drift looms in front.
‘Who’s in the drift! Come out! Come here!’
There’s only the homeless mongrel runt
limping wretchedly in the rear ...

‘You mangy beast, out of the way
before you ta…

Words and Music of Bulat Okudzhava - The Last Trolley Bus


When I'm in trouble and totally done
and when all my hope I abandon
I get on the blue trolley bus on the run,
the last one,
at random.
Night trolley, roll on sliding down the street,
around the boulevards keep moving
to pick up all those who are wrecked and in need
of rescue
from ruin.
Night trolley bus will you please open your doors !
On wretched cold nights, I can instance,
your sailors would come, as a matter of course,
to render
So many a time they have lent me a hand
to help me get out of grievance...
Imagine, there is so much kindness behind
this silence
and stillness.
Last trolley rolls round the greenery belt
and Moscow, like river, dies down...
the hammering blood in my temples I felt
calms down
calms down.

Okudzhava was born in Moscow on 9 May 1942, to a Georgian father and an Armenian mother, both good communists. Young Bulat grew up speaking only Russian because his mother insisted that only “the language of Lenin” be spoken at home. A…

A Short Biographical Notice of Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Sergevitch Pushkin was born in 1799 at Pskoff, and was a scion of an ancient Russian family. In one of his letters it is recorded that no less than six Pushkins signed the Charta declaratory of the election of the Romanoff family to the throne of Russia, and that two more affixed their marks from inability to write.

In 1811 he entered the Lyceum, an aristocratic educational establishment at Tsarskoe Selo, near St. Petersburg, where he was the friend and schoolmate of Prince Gortchakoff the Russian Chancellor. As a scholar he displayed no remarkable amount of capacity, but was fond of general reading and much given to versification. Whilst yet a schoolboy he wrote many lyrical compositions and commenced Ruslan and Liudmila , his first poem of any magnitude, and, it is asserted, the first readable one ever produced in the Russian language. During his boyhood he came much into contact with the poets Dmitrieff and Joukovski, who were intimate with his father, and his uncle, Vass…

Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953)

Russian artist, called the father of constructivism though he rejected the role and was regarded in 1920s Western Europe as the man who led art into technology and industrial production.

He was essentially poetic, capable of leadership but loved for his quiet ways, his craftsman's skills and his playing and singing of Russian folk music on instruments he made himself.

His father was a railway engineer, his mother a poet.

Young Tatlin divided his study years between art schools in Penza and Moscow and time at sea as a merchant sailor. Friends described his studio and his life-style as essentially shipshape and his knowledge of rigging and sails shows in his mature work. Little of that, however, remains, the most important productions being a vast tower, shown in drawings and models, his stage production of a poem by Khlebnikov, and models of a flying machine. Even less remains of papers etc. that might give us insight into his thinking but some may be gained from his close friendsh…

Lena River Delta

The Lena in Siberia is the 10th longest river in the world and has the seventh largest watershed. Rising at the height of 1640 m at its source in the Baikal Mountains south of the Central Siberian Plateau, 7 km west of Lake Baikal, the Lena flows northeast, being joined by the Kirenga River and the Vitim River. From Yakutsk it enters the lowlands, joined by the Olyokma River and flows north until joined by its right-hand affluent the Aldan River. The Verkhoyansk Range deflects it to the north-west; then, after receiving its most important left-hand tributary, the Vilyuy River, it makes its way nearly due north to the Laptev Sea, a division of the Arctic Ocean, emptying south-west of the New Siberian Islands by a delta 10,800 km² in area, and traversed by seven principal branches, the most important being Bykov, farthest east.

At the mouth of the Lena River is a delta that is about 400 km (250 miles) wide. The delta is frozen tundra for about 7 months of the year, but in May transform…

Ulyana Lopatkina - Interview

"I interviewed Miss Uliana Lopatkina on Wednesday 9 December 1998 at 6:30 pm in the coffee shop of a hotel near the Shatin Town Hall in Hong Kong where the Kirov Ballet gave five performances of 'Swan Lake' that week. Lopatkina, accompanied by Miss Shirin Chu who is one of the local organisers of this Hong Kong tour, also brought along Luba, a young Russian interpreter whom the Kirov has engaged from Moscow for this tour. The interview lasted for about an hour, but of course a considerable amount of time was taken up by the translations. Miss Lopatkina had just finished her rehearsal, which explained why she was half an hour late for my interview. That evening's cast of Swan Lake was Yulia Makhalina, and Danila Korsuntsev who only joined the Kirov last year from Moscow Classical Ballet. Lopatkina herself danced on the opening and closing nights partnered by Evgeny Ivanchenko.
In the beginning of our conversation, I was very flattered that Lopatkina remarked about my …

Andrei Rublev: The Virgin of Vladimir


Pyotr Konchalovsky, founding father of Russian avant-garde art

If there’s no light, no painting will emerge”, the well-known Russian painter Pyotr Konchalovsky used to say. February 21st marks the 135th birth anniversary of the remarkable master of the portrait and of the landscape genre. Besides, Konchalovsky, who was the founding father of the Russian avant-garde art, was an officially recognized painting academician and the author of more than 5,000 paintings. And another fact of importance here is that he is the representative of a powerful artistic dynasty, which today as before plays a pivotal role in Russia’s culture: suffice it to mention here the names of Konchalovsky’s grandchildren - such as film directors Nikita Mikhalkov and Andrei Konchalovsky.

Pyotr Konchalovsky died at the age of 80, and it would be good to mention here that half of his life he lived in tsarist Russia and the other half – in Soviet Russia. Pyotr Konchalovsky dedicated himself to painting, which was his only passion, an art critic from St. Petersburg, Yevgeniya …

N.A.Berdyaev - The Soul of Russia

The world war sets in sharp relief the question concerning the Russian national self-consciousness. Russian national thought senses the need and obligation to solve the enigma of Russia, to comprehend the idea of Russia, to define its purpose and place in the world. Everyone tends to sense in the present day world, that great worldwide tasks face Russia. But this profound feeling is accompanied by a consciousness of the vagueness, almost the indefinableness of these tasks. In times past there was a presentiment, that Russia is destined for something great, that Russia -- is some special land, not like any other land in the world. Russian national thought grew up with the sense of Russian as God-chosen and God-bearing. This courses its way from the old idea of Moscow as the Third Rome, through Slavophilism -- to Dostoevsky, Vladimir Solov'ev and the contemporary Neo-Slavophils. To ideas of this sort had fastened an accretion of falsehood and lie, but there is reflected in these ide…

Alexander II Liberator

On February 19, 1861, Emperor Alexander II carried out the first and the most important of his reforms – he declared the abolishment of serfdom in the Russian Empire to improve the Russian economy and avert a possible revolution.

The history of serfdom in Russia began in 1649, when Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich issued a decree which prohibited peasants from leaving their lands and gave landowners full control over the peasants. This decree was followed by a number of others depriving peasants of their personal liberty and turned them into actual slaves – into “baptized property”. The peasants had to work for their owners and to pay them labor rent, while the owners had the right to buy and sell them, often separating families; to punish them; and even to exile them to Siberia for crimes such as escape attempts or for trying to dodge army recruitment.

The defeat in the Crimean War (1853-1856) exposed all the drawbacks of Russian industry, economy and agriculture, and served as a trigger f…

Leonid Pasternak (1862-1945)

Leonid Pasternak, a leading Russian Impressionist, was an artist with wide European cultural interests. He was born in Odessa on the Black Sea in 1862, and taught in the Moscow School of Art from 1894-1921. Here he was the friend and colleague of the artists Repin, Serov and Levitan. He studied in Munich as a young man, and travelled extensively in Europe before the Revolution. He married Rosalia Kaufmann, a gifted pianist, who bore him four children: the eldest was the poet, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago. In 1921 Pasternak with his wife and two daughters left Moscow for Germany, where the artistic milieu included his friends Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth. Following the rise of Hitler, Pasternak came to England in 1938. The last years of his life were spent working in Oxford. The Pasternak Family Collection is held in the house where he died in 1945. ...

Illarion Pryanishnikov: Napoleon's Reterat from Moscow 1812


Leo Tolstoy / Лев Толстой - Кинохроника 1908-1910 гг. (HQ)

Chronicle. Rare film footage of Leo Tolstoy at the end of his life (music: Tchaikovsky - Piano sonata in G major, op. 37, 1st movt).

1. Лев Николаевич Толстой уезжает в Москву из имения Черткова (00:03)
2. Графиня Софья Андреевна Толстая (00:17)
3. Л. Н. Толстой, Чертков и семья великого писателя (00:29)
4. Приезд в Москву (01:34)
5. На станции Брянск (01:43)
6. Лев Толстой прибывает в дом свой в Хамовниках; дом этот будет превращен в толстовский музей (01:51)
7. Отъезд Льва Николаевича в Ясную Поляну (02:16)

8. Семья Л. Н. Толстого (02:51)
9. Лев Николаевич раздает милостыню бедным крестьянам (03:02)
10. Прогулка Толстого верхом в сопровождении доктора Маковецкого (04:05)
11. Л. Н. на прогулке в пять часов утра (04:57)
12. Лев Николаевич и его супруга графиня Софья Андреевна (05:05)
13. Внуки Льва Николаевича (05:56)
14. Лев Николаевич Толстой за рабо…

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova

Pilot-cosmonaut of the USSR,
Airforce Major General in retirement
10th person in space in the world,
the 6th cosmonaut in the USSR

The world's firsts:
- first woman in space (Vostok-6, 1963);
- first woman pilot (commander) of a spacecraft (Vostok-6, 1963);
- first single (without a crew) flight of a woman in space (Vostok-6, 1963).

Date and place of birth: March 6, 1937, village Maslennikovo, Tutaev district, Yaroslavl region, RSFSR (Russia).

In 1960 graduated from Yaroslavl extra-mural light industry college specializing as process technician for cotton spinning.
In 1969 graduated with honors from N.Ye.Zhukovsky Airforce Engineering Academy and received a "pilot-cosmonaut-engineer" qualification".

Academic degree: candidate of science, engineering (1976), author of more than 50 published papers.

Working career:
From 1954 worked at Yaroslavl tire factory.
In 1955-1960 worked at the Yaroslavl Order of Lenin Duck Fabric Industrial Complex Krasny Perekop.

Nikolay Aleksandrovich Dobrolyubov

(b. Jan. 24 [Feb. 5, New Style], 1836, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia—d. Nov. 17 [Nov. 29], 1861, St. Petersburg), radical Russian utilitarian critic who rejected traditional and Romantic literature.
Dobrolyubov, the son of a priest, was educated at a seminary and a pedagogical institute. Early in his life he rejected traditionalism and found his ideal in progress as represented by Western science. In 1856 Dobrolyubov began contributing to Sovremennik (“The Contemporary”), an influential liberal periodical, and from 1857 until his death he was chief critic for that journal. He was perhaps the most influential critic after Vissarion Belinsky among the radical intelligentsia; his main concern was the criticism of life rather than of literature. He is perhaps best known for his essay “What is Oblomovism” (1859–60). The essay deals with the phenomenon represented by the character Oblomov in Ivan Goncharov’s novel of that name. It established the term Oblomovism as a name for the s…

Aleksandr Ivanovich Kuprin: The Outrage--a True Story

It was five o'clock on a July afternoon. The heat was terrible. The whole of the huge stone-built town breathed out heat like a glowing furnace. The glare of the white-walled house was insufferable. The asphalt pavements grew soft and burned the feet. The shadows of the acacias spread over the cobbled road, pitiful and weary. They too seemed hot. The sea, pale in the sunlight, lay heavy and immobile as one dead. Over the streets hung a white dust.

In the foyer of one of the private theatres a small committee of local barristers who had undertaken to conduct the cases of those who had suffered in the last pogrom against the Jews was reaching the end of its daily task. There were nineteen of them, all juniors, young, progressive and conscientious men. The sitting was without formality, and white suits of duck, flannel and alpaca were in the majority. They sat anywhere, at little marble tables, and the chairman stood in front of an empty counter where chocolates were sold in the wint…