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Showing posts from March, 2011

Andrei Bely: Petersburg

Your Excellencies, Your Worships, Your Honors, and Citizens!

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What is this Russian Empire of ours?
This Russian Empire of ours is a geographical entity, which means: part of a certain planet. And this Russian Empire includes: in the first place—Great, Little, White, and Red Rus; in the second place—the Kingdoms of Georgia, Poland, Kazan, and Astrakhan; in the third place, it includes. . . . But—et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
This Russian Empire of ours consists of a multitude of cities: capital, provincial, district, downgraded; and further—of the original capital city and of the mother of Russian cities.
The original capital city is Moscow, and the mother of Russian cities is Kiev.
Petersburg, or Saint Petersburg, or Pieter (which are the same) actually does belong to the Russian Empire. And Tsargrad, Konstantinograd (or, as they say, Constantinople), belongs to it by right of inheritance. And we shall not expatiate on it.
Let us…

Mikhail Gorbachev – Biography

The man who brought the ideas of Glasnost and Perestroika to the Soviet Union and the only President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to beat widespread alcoholism in the country and breathe new life into the staggering Soviet economy. Some call him a legendary reformist, others say he’s enemy number one, responsible for the collapse of a Superpower… This is Mikhail Gorbachev.

Born into a peasant family in the Stavropol Region, it’s highly unlikely anyone expected Mikhail Gorbachev would become the last leader of the Soviet Union, when in his teens he operated combine harvesters on collective farms. But life changed dramatically when Mikhail managed to get into Moscow State University, graduating with a degree in law in 1955. It was during his student years that Gorbachev joined the Communist Party, taking on a political career. Within a few years he managed to quickly work his way up through the Party, becoming the Head of the Department of Party Organs in his home region in 1963…

Olga Vladimirovna Rozanova - Biography

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Rozanova: Pub
Olga Vladimirovna Rozanova was born in 1886 in Melenki, a small town near Vladimir. Unlike Liubov' Popova and many other avant-garde artists, she did not travel to Italy or France to get inspired by the most recent developments in Western painting. Therefore, her overall progress as an avant-garde artist is even more remarkable. She began her art education in 1904, attending art studios of K. Bol'shakov and K. Yuon in Moscow and studying for a short time at the Stroganov School of Applied Art. After moving to St. Petersburg, she went to private school of E.N. Zvantseva and in 1911 became one of the most active members of the Union of Youth, an organization that organized and sponsored art exhibitions, public lectures and discussions.
From 1911 to 1915, Rozanova experimented with Neo-Primitivism and Cubo-Futurism. Her early works show greater influence of the Italian Futurism than the French Cubism. Rozanova's paintings of this period consist of strong straigh…

Mikhail Kutuzov - Biography

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Mikhail Kutuzov (Golenishchev-Kutuzov) was a world-famous military commander and diplomat, most widely known for brilliantly repelling Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812.

He was born into a family of the Novgorod nobility. His father was a military engineer, a general lieutenant, and a senator. Mikhail’s mother died early and he spent his childhood with his grandmother. From his early years, Kutuzov was very physically fit and had a bright and sharp mind, combined with innate kindness and open-heartedness.

After receiving formidable home tutelage, 12-year-old Kutuzov entered the St. Petersburg artillery and engineering school as a corporal. He graduated as one of the best students of the school in 1759 and then resumed his career there as a math teacher. In 1761, he received his first officer’s rank, the ensign. In 1762 he was promoted to captain and made a company commander in the Astrakhan infantry regiment under the world famous general Aleksandr Suvorov. His skyrocketing career…

David Burliuk

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David Burliuk (July 21, 1882 – January 15, 1967 ) was a Ukrainian-Russian avant-garde artist (Futurist, Neo-Primitivist), book illustrator, publicist, and author. David Burliuk is considered to be father of Russian Futurism and one of the founders of the Cubo-Futurist movement in France and Germany (Der Blaue Reiter) in 1910. David Burliuk was born in Semirotovchina, Kharkov Gubernia of the Russian Empire, brother of Wladimir Burliuk. From 1898 to 1904 he studied at the Art School Kasan in Odessa, as well as at the art college there and at the Royal Academy in Munich. In 1908 was the exhibition with the group Zveno (The Link) in Kiev organized by David Burliuk together with Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, Alexander Bogomazov, Wladimir Burliuk and Aleksandra Ekster. From 1910 he was member of the group Jack of Diamonds. From 1910 to 1911 he attended Art School in Odessa. From 1911 to 1913 he studied at the Moscow School for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (MUZHZV). ...

Aleksandr Borodin – Biography

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Aleksandr Porfiryevich Borodin was a Russian composer, chemist and public activist. His best-known work is the opera “Prince Igor” (“Knyaz Igor”).

Borodin was born in St. Petersburg from an affair between the 62-year-old Georgian prince Luka Gedianov (or Gedianishvili) and a St. Petersburg commoner, Avdotya Antonova. He was registered as a son of the prince’s serfs Porfiriy and Tatyana Borodins. He remained his father’s serf until 1840, when the prince, just before his death, freed the seven-year-old boy. His real mother was married off to a military medic.

Aleksandr Borodin was a weak, unhealthy child and received home education from experienced and knowledgeable tutors, which allowed him to study all of the subjects of a gymnasium course. He was largely under female-only influence until he was 13. Despite his weak constitution and poor health he was a very enthusiastic child, and took interest in chemistry, modeling, painting and music. Early in his life he discovered his extraordi…

Elena Glinskaya. Grand Princess consort of Moscow Regent of Moscow/Russia (1533-38)

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Elena Glinskaya was the second wife of Grand Prince Vasili III and regent of Russia for 5 years 1533-38) and a mother of Ivan the Terrible.

The father of powerful Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Ivan the Terrible) Vasili III was married twice. His first marriage to Solomonia Saburova did not result in children, so Vasili divorced her despite strong opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church, and forced her to the veil in the monastery.

Vasili's second marriage was to the young princess Elena Glinskaya in 1526. Elena was a daughter of Prince Vasili Lvovich Glinsky by Princess Anna of Serbia. It is to her powerful uncle, Prince Mikhail Glinsky, that the family owned its distinction. According to the chronicles, he chose Elena 'because of the beauty of her face and her young age. This marriage was not profitable for the prince, yet he was so much in love with the young Elena, that even dared to violate the ancient tradition and shaved the beard.

After 4 years of mar…

Alexandra Kollontai: Red Love

Vassilissa was a working-girl twenty-eight years old, a knitter by trade. Thin, anemic, a typical child of the city. Her hair, cut short after typhus, grew in curls. From a distance she looked like a boy. She was flat-chested, and wore a shirtwaist and a wornout leather belt. She was not pretty. But her eyes were beautiful: brown, friendly, observant. Thoughtful eyes. Those eyes would never pass by another’s sorrow.

She was a Communist. At the beginning of the war she had become a Bolshevik. She hated the war from the first. Collections had been made in the shop for the front; people were ready to work overtime for the Russian victory. But Vassilissa objected. War was a bloody horror. What was the good of it? War brought hardships to the people. And you felt so sorry for the soldiers, the poor young fellows – like sheep being led to the slaughter. When Vassilissa met a detachment on the street, going to war in full military array, she always had to turn away. They were going to meet d…

Colonel Yuri Gagarin - Biography

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Yuri A. Gagarin was born on a collective farm in a region west of Moscow, Russia on March 9, 1934. His father was a carpenter. Yuri attended the local school for six years and continued his education at vocational and technical schools.

Yuri Gagarin joined the Russian Air Force in 1955 and graduated with honors from the Soviet Air Force Academy in 1957. Soon afterward, he became a military fighter pilot. By 1959, he had been selected for cosmonaut training as part of the first group of USSR cosmonauts.

Yuri Gagarin flew only one space mission. On April 12, 1961 he became the first human to orbit Earth. Major Yuri Gagarin's spacecraft, Vostok 1, circled Earth at a speed of 27,400 kilometers per hour. The flight lasted 108 minutes. At the highest point, Yuri Gagarin was about 327 kilometers above Earth.

Once in orbit, Yuri Gagarin had no control over his spacecraft. Vostok's reentry was controlled by a computer program sending radio commands to the space capsule. Although …

Catherine II the Great - Biography

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Recognized worldwide as a noteworthy historical figure, Catherine the Great was one of the most prominent rulers of Russia and a figure deserving of admiration. During her rule from 1762 to 1796 the Russian Empress Catherine II made such progress in political power that it is hard to find similar examples in world history. She expanded the territory of the Russian Empire and improved its administration, following the policy of Westernization. She was reputed to be an 'enlightened despot,' however she was also praised for her generosity and humanity. Many historians associate her with all the significant events and trends in Russia's expanding world role. Though she always rejected the appellation 'the Great,' it endured. She was often compared to Peter the Great. One of her contemporaries described the essence of her rule, saying that Peter the Great created people in Russia, and Catherine put her heart into them. She reformed Russia gradually and calmly finished …

Ilya Repin - Biography

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Ilya Efimovich Repin was born in 1844 in the small Ukrainian town of Tchuguev into the family of a military settler. As a boy he was trained as an icon painter. At the age of 19 he entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. His arrival in the capital coincided with an important event in artistic life of the 60s, the so-called ‘Rebellion of the Fourteen’, when 14 young artists left the Academy after refusing to use mythological subjects for their diploma works. They insisted that art should be close to real life and formed the Society of the Peredvizhniki to promote their own aesthetic ideals. Later, Repin would be become a close friend and associate with some of them.

For his diploma work Raising of Jairus' Daughter (1871) Repin was awarded the Major Gold Medal and received a scholarship for studies abroad. Barge Haulers on the Volga (1870-1873) was the first major work painted by Repin after graduation. It immediately won recognition.

In 1873, Repin went abroad. For some months …

Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Ballet Dancer - Biography

The principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, Nikolai Tsiskaridze is one of the most decorated Russian dancers.

Nikolai was born in Tbilisi, the capital of the then Soviet Republic of Georgia, on 31 December 1973. Although his father was a violin player and classical music was a regular part of his childhood, ballet was not a profession his parents would have liked him to pursue.

Tsiskaridze says he chose classical dance at the age of three when he first saw “Giselle” – much to the despair of his mother, a teacher of math and physics. For a time there was still hope that the boy would give up his crazy dream. But at the age of ten, he insisted he should enter the ballet school and his parents had to give in. “But you have to be the best,” his mother told him. “Otherwise, I will pull you out.”

There was no need for such warnings. After three years at the Tbilisi Ballet School, Nikolai was far ahead of his classmates. So in 1984 he entered the Moscow Ballet School, where he studied under …

Kukryniksy, 1942 - War Poster

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Andrei Rublev – Biography

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Andrei Rublev, a famous medieval painter of orthodox icons and frescos, is considered the pride and glory of Russian culture. The name of Rublev is connected not only to the flourishing period of Russian art, but also to the revival of Byzantine art after its ruin under the Ottoman rule.

However, there is little information available on Andrei Rublev’s life. It is not known where he was born but he probably lived in the Trinity St. Sergey Monastery in the small town of Sergiev Posad near Moscow. He was a monk under Nikon of Radonezh, who succeeded Sergey of Radonezh, a famous saint and Father Superior of the monastery. Rublev’s contemporaries described him as “a kind and quiet person, filled with light.” They said he was “unusually focused” and that “everything he created was a result of his deep thoughts.”

In the early chronicles, the name of Rublev comes up in connection with the construction of different churches. In the 1380s he belonged to the Prince’s cartel of craftsmen and art…

Ivan IV the Terrible - Biography

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Ivan didn’t immediately become known as Terrible. Born near Moscow on August 25, 1530, Ivan was the long-awaited son of Vasily III. His father died when the boy was only three and Ivan was proclaimed the Grand Prince of Moscow. At first, his mother Yelena Glinskaya acted as a regent, but she died when Ivan was eight years old. Ivan saw her replaced by a group of noblemen fiercely fighting for power.

Treated with respect in public but neglected in private, he was growing up lonely and often humiliated by his mighty regents. Abuse, violence and murders were commonplace in the palace. It’s believed Ivan’s miserable childhood largely explains his hatred of the nobles and his later repressions against them.

Smart and a keen reader, early on Ivan started dreaming of unlimited power. In 1547, aged 16, he was finally crowned Czar of all Russia, the first ruler to officially assume the title. The young ruler started out as a reformer, modernising and centralising the country. He revised the l…

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Biography

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Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (18 March 1844 – 21 June 1908) was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five. He was a master of orchestration. His best-known orchestral compositions—Capriccio Espagnol, the Russian Easter Festival Overture, and the symphonic suite Scheherazade—are considered staples of the classical music repertoire, along with suites and excerpts from some of his 15 operas. Scheherazade is an example of his frequent use of fairy tale and folk subjects.

Rimsky-Korsakov believed, as did fellow composer Mily Balakirev and critic Vladimir Stasov, in developing a nationalistic style of classical music. This style employed Russian folk song and lore along with exotic harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements in a practice known as musical orientalism, and eschewed traditional Western compositional methods. However, Rimsky-Korsakov appreciated Western musical techniques after he became a professor of musical composition, harmony and orc…

The muses and demons of Mikhail Vrubel

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On March 17, Russia marks the 155th birthday of famous artist Mikhail Vrubel who was called both a madman and a genius. Vrubel is renowned for his unique style incorporating crystal drawings that twinkle with the hues of the “navy blue and purple twilight of the world.”

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Alexander Pushkin: The Snowstorm

TOWARDS the end of the year 1811, a memorable period for us, the good Gavril Gavrilovitch R---- was living on his domain of Nenaradova. He was celebrated throughout the district for his hospitality and kindheartedness. The neighbours were constantly visiting him: some to eat and drink; some to play at five copeck "Boston" with his wife, Praskovia Petrovna; and some to look at their daughter, Maria Gavrilovna, a pale, slender girl of seventeen. She was considered a wealthy match, and many desired her for themselves or for their sons.

Maria Gavrilovna had been brought up on French novels, and consequently was in love. The object of her choice was a poor sub-lieutenant in the army, who was then on leave of absence in his village. It need scarcely be mentioned that the young man returned her passion with equal ardour, and that the parents of his beloved one, observing their mutual inclination, forbade their daughter to think of him, and received him worse than a discharged ass…

Maxim Gorky: Funeral, Rare Footage

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Maxime Gorki, Staline, Molotov in Moscow, Documentary film archives of Jean Afanassieff


Savva Mamontov - Biography

Mamontov Savva Ivanovich, born in 1841, was a big entrepreneur but considered theatre arts his true vocation. He collected paintings by Russian artists and was known as a patron of art. His estate Abramtsevo located under Moscow became a unique place where workshops of painting, wood engraving, pottery and sculpture were organized. Mamontov’s house appeared to be home for the Vasnetsov brothers, Antokolskiy the sculpture, Polenov, Golovin, Repin, Surikov, Korovin, Levitan, Serov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Vrubel, whose talent Savva Ivanovich evolved and supported. The artists loved that place; they used to live there for months, sometimes with their families. A great number of world-known masterpieces were brought into life here in Abramtsevo, a revival hearth for the best traditions of the national culture.

Apart from patronage extended to artists Mamontov turned out to be a true reformer of theatrical business: he was a founder and a stage director for the first Russian private opera hous…

Maxim Gorky: The Billionaire

The kings of steel, of petroleum, and all the other kings of the United States have always in a high degree excited my power of imagination. It seemed to me certain that these people who possess so much money could not be like other mortals.
Each of them (so I said to myself) must call his own, at least, three stomachs and a hundred and fifty teeth. I did not doubt that the millionaire ate without intermission, from six o'clock in the morning till midnight. It goes without saying, the most exquisite and sumptuous viands! Toward evening, then, he must be tired of the hard chewing, to such a degree that (so I pictured to myself) he gave orders to his servants to digest the meals that he had swallowed with satisfaction during the day. Completely limp, covered with sweat and almost suffocated, he had to be put to bed by his servants, in order that on the next morning at six o'clock he might be able to begin again his work of eating.
Nevertheless, it must be impossible…

Sviatoslav Richter - Documentary - The Enigma - vol. 1- 1/8

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The first part of the acclaimed docu-biography of the Ukrainian/German pianist Sviatoslav Richter including archive footage and an interview with the 80 year old Richter.

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Peter I the Great - Biography

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One of Russia’s greatest statesmen, Peter the Great – the Tsar and first Emperor of Russia - was a man of unwavering willpower, extraordinary energy and supreme vision. Having inherited a vast but backward state, he propelled Russia to the rank of a major European power, while his extraordinary personality and wide scale reforms have been an inspiration to generations of historians, writers and ordinary Russians.

Born in 1672 in Moscow, the future emperor was the son of Tsar Aleksey I. His mother was Natalya Naryshkina, the tsar’s second wife. Peter was his mother’s first son, but he was his father’s 14th child, so his birth was not much cause for celebration. But unlike his half-brothers, the offspring of his father’s first marriage, Peter was a healthy, inquisitive and energetic child.

When Peter was just four years old his father died and the throne was left to Peter’s elder half-brother, Fyodor III, a sickly youth. Yet, in reality, the royal power fell into the hands of the relat…

Nicolas Berdyaev: The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution has interested the whole world in Russia and the Russian people. The peoples of the West are uneasy about the Communist experiment, accompanied as it is by a forced implanting of atheism such as the world has never yet known-an experiment carried on in a vast country which is little known to, and little understood by, the West. What must be of great interest is the psychological problem : How was it possible for Holy Russia to be turned into an arsenal of militant atheism ? How is it that a people who are religious by their very structure and live exclusively by faith have proved to be such a fruitful field for anti-religious propaganda ? To explain that, to understand Russian anti-religious psychology, one must have an insight into the religious psychology of the Russian people.

The nineteenth century saw the advent of an original type of Russian, different in spiritual structure from that of mediaeval Muscovite Russia, and it is this type which gives us the ke…