Showing posts from June, 2011

Maria Sharapova - Biography

Sharapova was born on April 19, 1987 in the small town of Nyagan in western Siberia. She developed an early love for tennis and began playing at the age of four. After moving with her parents, Yury and Yelena, to the Black Sea town of Sochi, it was her father who quickly recognised Maria’s talent and encouraged his daughter.

Her first trainer was Yury Yudkin.

“What amazed me straight away was that at 4-and-a-half years of age she was extremely intelligent,” Yudkin remembers.

“Maria absorbed everything I explained and showed to her. She grasped everything in a single flash. She mastered hits, which are still not clear to everyone. At 7 she learned the twisted serve and was a little master.

You cannot imagine that in life she is a kind, soft, smiling girl, because as soon as she takes the racket in her hands, she is a beast! Goal oriented, not scared of anyone, she will do what it takes to win! In the three years of working together not once did she say ‘I am tired’.”

When she was six M…

Maxim Gorky: Creatures That Once Were Men

In front of you is the main street, with two rows of miserable-looking huts with shuttered windows and old walls pressing on each other and leaning forward. The roofs of these time-worn habitations are full of holes, and have been patched here and there with laths; from underneath them project mildewed beams, which are shaded by the dusty-leaved elder-trees and crooked white willow — pitiable flora of those suburbs inhabited by the poor.

The dull green time-stained panes of the windows look upon each other with the cowardly glances of cheats. Through the street and toward the adjacent mountain runs the sinuous path, winding through the deep ditches filled with rain-water. Here and there are piled heaps of dust and other rubbish — either refuse or else put there purposely to keep the rain-water from flooding the houses. On the top of the mountain, among green gardens with dense foliage, beautiful stone houses lie hidden; the belfries of the churches rise proudly toward the sky, and the…

Boris Yefimov

Until recently, this remarkable centenarian, a diminutive figure in outsized spectacles, continued to enthral visitors to his Moscow flat, delivering colourful anecdotes of life from the first decades of the last century, displaying the vigour of a man half his age.

Few people can have experienced so much of 20th-century history at close quarters or, for that matter, possessed such dazzling capacity for its recollection.
During his lifetime Yefimov saw revolution, civil war, genocide, two world wars, the Cold War and a putsch. As a boy he saw the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and later he met Lenin. He personally knew many prominent revolutionaries, including Trotsky and Bukharin. He sat in the Great Hall of Columns as around him the show trials destroyed the lives of many former colleagues.

Interview with Boris Efimov

Russian Poet Boris Pasternak - Rare Videos

In last video with Olga Ivinskaya

G.V. Plekhanov: The Materialist Conception of History

We must confess that it was with no little prejudice that we took up the book of this Roman professor. We had been rather frightened by certain works of some of his compatriots – A. Loria, for example (see, in particular, La teoria economica della constituzione politica). But a perusal of the very first pages was enough to convince us that we had been mistaken, and that Achille Loria is one thing and Antonio Labriola another. And when we reached the end of the book we felt that we would like to discuss it with the Russian reader. We hope that he will not be annoyed with us. For after all, “So rare are books that are not banal!”

Labriola’s book first appeared in Italian. The French translation is clumsy, and in places positively infelicitous. We say this without hesitation, although we have not the Italian original before us. But the Italian author cannot be held responsible for the French translator. At any rate, Labriola’s ideas are clear even in the clumsy French translation. Let us…

On June, 27 1905 - protest onboard the Russian battleship Potemkin

On June 27, 1905 a protest erupted onboard the Russian battleship Potemkin. It became one of the most dramatic events of the 1905 Russian Revolution. For eleven days sailors of the Black Sea Fleet held control of the battleship supporting the revolution and striking fear in the Tsarist government.

The defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and the political unrest through the Russian Empire all led to mass revolutionary activities in the Imperial army and the navy. Sailors’ morale was low and they were oppressed by harsh disciplinary measures and severe service conditions. Groups were being formed inside the Black Sea Fleet dedicated to the revolution and planning for a fleet-wide mutiny.

The rebellion aboard Potemkin broke out unexpectedly and prematurely. The men on the ship were provoked by the mindless conduct of several senior officers. Sailors were served rotten meat for lunch and when they protested, one of the executive officers, beside himself with fury, shot one of the…

Konstantin Paustovsky: A Basket Of Fir Apples

Edward Grieg had been writing music for Dagni Pedersen for over a month. Winter came. The fog wrapped the town up from head to foot. Rusty ships kept coming from distant lands, dozing off by the wooden piers, quietly exhaling clouds of steam.

Soon the snow started. Grieg could see it from his window slanting and tangling in the treetops.
Obviously, by no means can music be expressed in words, however rich the vocabulary.
Grieg was writing about the profound joy of happiness and womanhood. As he was doing it, he saw a beautiful girl rushing toward him, her green eyes glowing, short-of-breath. She embraces him, pressing her hot cheek against his, old, grey and unshaved face. “Thank you!” she utters, clueless herself as to why she is thanking him.

“You are like the sun,” Grieg tells her. “Like a gentle breeze and a young morning. A white flower is blooming inside your heart, filling your entire being with the odor of spring. I’ve seen life. Whatever people may tell you about it; you neve…

The Russian Atomic Weapon Museum

The Russian Atomic Weapon Museum: "The dangerous weapon of the millennium is located in the museum of  Zarechny town. The museum keeps exhibits that used to be modern and secret just some time ago. Location: Zarechny"

Maxim Gorky: Reminiscences of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

These fragmentary notes were written by me during the period when I lived in Lieise and Lev Nikolayevich at Gaspra, in the Crimea. They cover the period of Tolstoy's serious illness and of his subsequent recovery. The notes were carelessly jotted down on scraps of paper, and I thought I had lost them, but recently I have found some of them....I include here an unfinished letter written by me under the influence of the 'going away' of Lev Nikolayevich from Yasnaya Polyana, and of his death. I publish the letter just as it was written at the time and without correcting a single word; and I do not finish it, for somehow or other this is not possible.

M. Gorky.

The thought which beyond others most often and conspicuously gnaws at him is the thought of God. At moments it seems, indeed, not to be a thought of God. He speaks of it less than he would like, but thinks of it always. It can scarcely be said to be a sign of old age, a presentiment of death--no, I think that it comes…

Arkady Gaidar – Two Biographies

Arkady Gaidar (real name Golikov) was both a famous writer and a Red Army field commander known for his courage and ruthlessness.

In days of old, mounted warriors on the march would send a horseman ahead as a scout. He was called a gaidar. Arkady Gaidar was a keen-eyed scout, a true son of the revolution, a man in the vanguard of Soviet literature. The pseudonym he chose proved to be an apt one indeed. Gaidar’s writings, his own heroic life of dedicated service to his country and the revolution, and his fidelity to his vocation of author and educator will forever remain a lofty example of the writer’s mission in the Soviet era.

Arkady Gaidar was born on 22 January 1904 in the town of Lgov, Kursk Region. In 1912 the family moved to Arzamas, a town in the Nizhny Novgorod region. Ten years later Arkady watched his father, a schoolmaster, march off to war. Young Arkady ran away from home and tried to join his father at the front. Four days and ninety kilometers later, he was apprehended a…

Ariadna Efron - Biography

Ariadna Efron (Alja), the first child of Sergej Jakovlevic Efron and Marina Ivanovna Cvetaeva, was born in Moscow on 18 September 1912. Alja had her father’s big blue eyes and was a beautiful and intelligent child. She was also precocious, understanding the poetry her mother read to her, from a very early age, in a singularly clipped and incandescent manner marked by unpredictable pauses and dashes. Marina Cvetaeva was indeed a talented poet, whose verses touched one of the highest and most innovative peaks of poetic excellence in the 20th century.
With the outbreak of the Revolution, Alja’s father Sergej left home to join the White Army while Marina, with Alja and her younger sister Irina, stayed in Moscow. Alja soon learnt to read and by the age of seven she was composing short poems; she also had a great gift for drawing. In February 1920 her sister died of malnutrition.
In 1921, after almost four years, her father managed to send them news of his whereabouts. In May 1922, Alja an…

Howling Soviet Monsters

In Vladimir Sorokin’s novel The Queue, one of the protagonists is struggling with a crossword: ‘1 Across – Russian Soviet writer.’ Suggestions come from people next to him in the long line that is the book’s setting and subject – Sholokhov, Mayakovsky? – but are rejected, because neither fits both adjectives at the same time. When Sorokin wrote The Queue in the 1980s, these adjectives – always in tension – could still sit together in a handful of cases (the answer settled on is Gorky); but since then, they have been severed from each other by the watershed of 1991, and now represent distinct historical epochs, as well as two separate literary cultures.

Sorokin has the rare distinction of having been an enfant terrible in both of them. He was born near Moscow in 1955 and became active in the literary and artistic underground of the late Brezhnev era. The Queue, his first book, was published in Paris in 1985. Since then he has been prolific in a variety of genres – stories, novels, play…

Olga Spessivtseva - Biography

The story of Olga Spessivtseva is the saddest I have known. Although she was born into a prosperous family, her father's death imposed financial hardships on the family, and Olga was sent to an orphanage. At the age of ten she became a student at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg. Here she found the order and discipline that she needed in her life. A shy, withdrawn child, Olga dedicated her existence to ballet. She graduated in 1913 and became a soloist in the ballet company in1916.

Although she did not support Serge Diaghilev's ideas about dance, in 1916 she agreed to replace Tamara Karsavina on the American tour of The Ballets Russes. When she returned to Russia in 1918, she was promoted to Prima Ballerina. Here she had her chance to dance Giselle for the first time. For many, Spessivtseva was the perfect Giselle, her flawless dancing and air of vulnerability eclipsing even the interpretation of Pavlova.

Spessivtseva's fragile health and the deprivations of th…

Ivan Kramskoy - Biography

Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy was a Russian painter and graphic artist, a master of genre, historic and portrait painting and an art critic.

He was born in the town of Ostrogozhsk in the Voronezh Region in southwestern Russia into a commoner’s family. He received a basic education in a district school. During his childhood Kramskoy independently studied drawing and later began working with aquarelles. When he was 16, he worked as a color correction artist for a Kharkov (Ukraine) photographer. In 1856 he moved to St. Petersburg and continued to work with the best of the capital’s photographers. The following year he entered the Arts Academy, where he soon showed great talent in drawing and painting. During his academy years, he gathered the progressive youth around him. He was the head of the protest against painting the far-fetched pieces ordered by the council (the so-called “programs”). The artists graduating from the Academy created the St. Petersburg Team, which owed its atmosphere of…

Vasily Sitnikov - Biography

The personality and life of artist Vasily Sitnikov (1915–1987) are amazing. Sitnikov was an extraordinary person, very interesting but at times hard to communicate with. He was one of the most vivid “landmark” figures of the post-war nonconformist art of Russia.

Unfortunately, history has not preserved many records of life and creative and teaching activities of this artist, ‘a living legend’ in his time.

Sitnikov Vasily Yakovlevich was born in Novo-Rakitino Settlement of Tambov Province on August 19 (September 1), 1915 into a family of peasants that moved to Moscow in 1921. In 1933 he studied in Moscow Ship Mechanics School dreaming to sail to faraway lands; there he took to making models of sailing vessels.
In 1935 Sitnikov was entering VHUTEMAS (The State Higher Art and Technical Workshops) but deceived by administration was not taken in, which he suffered as a personal tragedy. Instead of studying for artist in the academy he became a ‘lamplighter’ in the Surikov Art Institute: he…

Royal Jewellery

In 1719, Emperor Peter I 'the Great' (reigned 1682-1725), founded the earliest version of what we now know as the State Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation. Peter I had visited other European nations, and introduced many innovations to Russia, one of which was the creation of a permanent fund to house a collection of jewels which belonged not to the Romanov family, but to the Russian State.

Peter declared that the state holdings were inviolate, and could not be altered, sold, or given away - and he also decreed that each subsequent Emperor or Empress should leave a certain number of pieces acquired during their reign to the State, for the permanent glory of the Russian Empire. Peter left all of the pieces used in the coronation ceremony to the Diamond Fund, as well as many important pieces of 15th, 16th and 17th century jewelry. The pieces were housed in a special secure room in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, first called the Renteria, and subsequently called the Diamo…

Life of Russia Of The Mid-1990s

Life of Russia Of The Mid-1990s: "On 12 June 1991 Boris Yeltsin was elected as the president of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic with 57% of the vote, becoming the first popularly elected president. However, Yeltsin never recovered his popularity after a series of economic … Read more..."

Old Pictures of Soviet Moscow

Old Pictures of Soviet Moscow: "    A very big collection of the black and white photographs of Soviet Moscow made in the 1930s-40s. Unfortunately, their author is unknown and no captions are provided. Yet the pictures are very interesting."

Pavel Filonov - Two Biographies

Pavel Nikolayevich Filonov was a Russian avant-garde painter, art theorist, and poet.

Filonov was born in Moscow and early orphaned in 1897 he moved to St. Petersburg, where he earned money through embroidery, house painting, restoring buildings and icons, and other tasks such as retouching photographs and making posters and wrappers for goods (a practical apprenticeship he never forgot). From 1908 to 1910, he attended the Academy of Arts, but was expelled in 1910.

Through his art, Pavel Filonov sought to observe and understand the forces that comprise the human existence, both the internal and external factors.He aimed to achieve a systematic knowledge of the world and it's human inhabitants. Filonov's paintings were in effect not mere images with meaning; -- his work went beyond that -- they were manifestations of intellectual concepts, something derived from his theory and ideology. The viewer of the art was to observe a "projective intellect" within the imagery. …

Ritzy Russian art - A Parisian Café by Ilya Repin

A Parisian Café by Ilya Repin has raked in a record sum of money - over $7 million – at Christie’s Russian art sale in London, becoming the most expensive painting by a Russian artist.

­Created back in 1875, during the artist’s prolific period spent in the turbulent center of artistic creation and novelty that was Paris in the late 19th century, the epic painting stands out as a timeless masterpiece.

Exhibited at the Paris Salon, in contravention of Imperial Academy rules, A Parisian Café features clear-cut impressionistic influences of Western art on the progressive Russian creator.

As a Russian observer of society in the French capital, Repin had, according to art historians, placed himself in the role of the “painter of modern life” invented by the celebrated French poet Charles Baudelaire.


The Master of the Crossed Out - Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

In December 1926 the German critic Walter Benjamin arrived in Moscow. Almost ten years after the Communist revolution, he was curious to see what revolution now looked like. It turned out, wrote Benjamin, that revolution was really renovation. Moscow was the city of Do-It-Yourself. Everywhere, he observed, there was this gusto for what the Russians called remont: an endlessly renewable, delighted, fussy passion for fixing, touching up, reupholstering, redecorating. “Each thought, each day, each life lies here as on a laboratory table.” He added: “The country is mobilized day and night.”1

Another inhabitant of this city was Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, a Ukrainian writer with a comically unpronounceable Polish name. Benjamin, of course, was a tourist. Krzhizhanovsky—whose occluded literary career coincided with the era of Stalinist repression—was not. Krzhizhanovsky also noted the mania in Moscow—”that gigantic flattened human hive”—for amateur renovation:

A milliner and a watchmaker had …

An interview with Ludmila Ulitskaya: Conscience is our only means of survival

Ludmila Ulickaja was born in Yekaterinburg, Siberia, in 1943, where her family had been exiled for political reasons. She was less than a year old when they were allowed to move back to the capital. She grew up and studied in Moscow where she lives to this day.She graduated as a geneticist and worked as a researcher at the Moscow Institute of Genetics from where she was dismissed in 1970. After spending nine years at home caring for her ailing mother and raising her sons, she was literary secretary at Moscow’s Jewish Theatre, wrote poems, screenplays, radio plays, narrative prose and plays. Her first volume of short stories was published in 1983, but was hardly taken note of. Her short novel Sonechka, published in France in 1995, was a resounding success and received the Medici Prize in 1996. Since then, the volume has been published in nearly thirty countries. Her novels Medea and her Children, Kukotsky's Case, Women's Lies and others were great successes both at home and abr…

Mikhail Lermontov - Two Biographies

Mikhail Lermontov left a unique legacy in Russian literature and his poetic reputation is second in his native country only to Pushkin’s.

Lermontov was born on October 15, 1814, in Moscow. His father, Yuri, was an impoverished army officer, while his mother, Maria Arsenyeva, was a wealthy young heiress from a prominent aristocratic family. Lermontov’s maternal grandmother, Elizaveta Arsenyeva, regarded their marriage as a clear mismatch and deeply disliked her son-in-law.

The union turned out to be ill-suited and the couple soon grew apart. Lermontov’s mother died three years later, aged 21, a disappointed and melancholic figure. After her death, her rich and authoritative mother, Elizaveta, launched a formidable battle for her beloved grandson, promising to disinherit him if his father took the boy away.

The father and son were eventually separated and, at the age of three, Lermontov began a spoilt and luxurious life with his doting grandmother, at her family estate of Tarkhany, in t…