Showing posts from September, 2012

Russian author of Holocaust novel scoops global literary award

Russian author Ludmila Ulitskaya won the Park Kyung-ni literary prize for her book 'Daniel Stein, Interpreter.' Contenders for the Korean award included British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, and American author and activist Alice Walker. Ulitskaya's most recent book translated into English tells the story of a Polish Jew who devotes himself to God after surviving the horrors of the Nazi regime, during which he saved lives by working as an interpreter for the Gestapo. The plot, based on a true story, took inspiration from a person whom Ulitskaya once knew and admired.  The 69-year-old Ulitskaya is the author of 14 books of fiction and six plays staged by a number of theaters in Russia and in Germany. She began her literary career late in life – after graduating from Moscow University with a Degree of Masters in Biology, she first worked as a scientist in the Institute of Genetics. Her first short novel, 'Sonechka,' was published in 1992 and immediately shortlisted for…

Socialist realism: The History of Russian art in 15 paintings. Part II

Through years the social realism was the only legitimate artistic style in the Soviet Union. After the perestroika in the mid 70s, the Soviet ways were wryly criticized, the paintings, which only recently were considered to be model, mocked and laughed at and their painters stigmatized as the “voice of the blood-thirsty regime.” Socialist realism: The History of Russian art in 15 paintings. PART I Letter From the Front by Alexander Laktionov, 1947
“I’ve painted everything from life. I’ve only broadened the doorway a little and transformed a monastery yard into a square of a small provincial town. Everything else has fitted all right. I was not squeamish about painting worn and rotten boards and a cracked wall. The work lasted two summer seasons, two sunny summers, such summers are a rare occurrence.” Alexander Laktionov
During the preparation for the all-Union art exhibition in 1947, the painting was criticized. A representative of the Committee on the Arts said that “there should not …

Four of Us: Akhmatova, Mandelshtam, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva

I asked her, “Did you dictate
Dante’s Hell?” She said, “I did.”

— Anna Akhmatova, “Muse” (1924) Translations are necessarily “once again,” and in English can work naturally within a Wordsworthian tradition where “was” is “for this,” and a sense of tradition, far from a struggle for priority, is impelled by recurrence: what happened once is happening again and, happening again, is happening differently. This recognition of recurrence complements Walter Benjamin’s understanding of translation as the Überleben (afterlife or survival), the Forteleben (continuing life) of the translated poem. It also translates a recurring motif in Russian poetry of the last century (at least among those poets, more radical than revolutionary, who distinguished originality from futurism). Anna Akhmatova imagined that her muse was also Dante’s, an inspiration independent of Russian. “[E]very language has something that belongs to it alone,” Marina Tsvetaeva thought, but as she wrote to Rilke in 1926, “the …

'A Russian Night' (Hélène Grimaud; Claudio Abbado, 22.08.2008)


Socialist realism: The History of Russian art in 15 paintings

Over a span of several decades social realism dominated and was in fact the only legitimate artistic style in the Soviet Union. Artists were to mirror reality as it was, “in its historic and revolutionary development” and in conformity with the “task of ideological transformation and education of workers in the spirit of socialism.” After the perestroika in the mid 70s, the Soviet ways were wryly criticized, the paintings, which only recently were considered to be model, mocked and laughed at and their painters stigmatized as the “voice of the blood-thirsty regime.”
It is remarkable how artists took such eager criticism. For instance, Vladimir Gremitsky who painted the world-famous portraits of Soviet leaders, including Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov, “would hit the roof each time he heard the word ‘socialist,’” his son Alexander said. “So, I’m a social realist,” he would spurt out, “And Velasquez is a late feudal one, and Rembrandt is an early capitalist one, right? Nonsense! Total …

Rebelling without a cause

Searching for a life with meaning and purpose, twenty-year-old Artur Kara visits a series of political groups in Moscow, encountering former prisoners from Guantanamo at the headquarters of the Islamic Committee or literary dreamers among the National Bolsheviks. Unable to find a group he wants to join, he plans his own revolution.
The comic element in Khasavov’s writing rescues it from drowning in adolescent self-absorption. It is unlikely that young writers emerging from western schools of creative writing would dare to make their hero a wannabe-author, but Kara’s opening lines are a fantasy about his future fame as “the writer of brilliant books”; his pseudo-autobiographical admissions are intimate and awkwardly funny.
Prolific translator Arch Tait (who has also translated novels by literary-bestseller Ludmila Ulitskaya), brilliantly conveys the hero’s stylistic pretentions, alongside other registers from ideological jargon to celebrity LiveJournal blogs. Tait has commented on Khasav…

Eifman Ballet's Onegin


Stroganov Church - Nizhny Novgorod

Stroganov Church, a photo by sevenbrane on Flickr.

Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod, a photo by mprivoro on Flickr.

Ekaterinburg - The city hall

Ekaterinburg - The city hall, a photo by peter++ on Flickr.

Ekaterinburg - Church on Blood in Honor of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land


Vladimir Voinovich: "I've allowed nobody to pin myself to the mat"

On September 26th the well-known writer Vladimir Voinovich, who is also known as “Satirist No.1” in the post-Soviet literature, will celebrate his 80th birthday.
Voinovich spent his pre-jubilee days in the Black Sea resort of Anapa, where he arrived to work: the writer headed the jury of the “Kinoshock film festival there. He saw several films every day, gave interviews, edited the texts, and actively swam. A year ago he demonstrated his courage when he decided to stand at the wheel of a plane - he did that and took off! In an interview with the Voice of Russia the writer says about this with pleasure. Asked whether he would like to make a flight, Voinovich said: “Yes, of course.” “So we went to a place far from Moscow that proved to be a private aero club, and I took off. It came as a surprise to me that I can do that”, Voinovich continued.
Although Voinovich has not taken off for 60 years since he studied at the aero club, he was not afraid:
“When I was young I had a passion for wrestli…

Shostakovich - "Testimony": The movie about his life

Director: Tony Palmer
Writers: Tony Palmer, David Rudkin, Tony Palmer
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Sherry Baines,Magdalen Asquith

Testimony: The Story of Shostakovich is a 1987 British musical drama film directed by Tony Palmer and starring Ben Kingsley, Sherry Baines and Robert Stephens. The film is based on the memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) as dictated in the book Testimony (edited by Solomon Volkov) and filmed in Panavision. Some consider the book to be a fabrication.

Baikal sunset

Baikal sunset on film, a photo by Valery Chernodedov on Flickr.

Lake Baikal in sunny day


Church of The Epiphany, Irkutsk


Flying Over the Kremlin

Flying Over the Kremlin: The Kremlin in the city of Kazan is a unique historical, architectural and cultural complex which combines both Christian and Moslim, Russian and Tatar motives. The Kremlin is situated on the high left bank of the Volga river and left … Read more...

Kondratyeva and Liepa in Gluck's Adagio (1978)


Maris Liepa - Biography

Liepa was the principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and a man of principle.

Born on 27 July in Riga, Latvia Maris was a sickly child. His mother wanted him to become a doctor. But with the intention of improving his health the child was taken to the Latvian Opera and Ballet school. His father, Edward Liepa, was an opera singer but had lost his voice at an early age and became a stage engineer at the Latvian National Opera. Edard Liepa had many theatrical friends who suggested dancing would help strengthen his son’s health.

Funnily enough Maris Liepa’s stage debut was in an opera. He sang in a boys’ choir in “Carmen” at the Riga Opera and Ballet Theater where his father used to perform. By the age of 13 Maris had already danced parts in three children’s ballets and several adult ballets including “Don Quixote” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Along with ballet Maris practiced sports, gymnastics and swimming. He was Latvia’s repeated champion in free style swimming, which left him wi…

Chopiniana - Ekaterina Maximova - Vladimir Vasiliev - Nina Timofeyeva 1974


Vladimir Vysotsky (1938-1980)

'I want to state and assure you, that author's song demands great work. This song is always living with you, never giving you rest.' -Vysotsky said.

One had to live several lives to feel keenly all the personages featured in his songs. These songs generally fall into topical cycles, such as war, mountain, sport, Chinese and other cycles. People who had fough at war would think that Vysotsky himself had experienced what he wrote about in his songs - so true to life and sincere his songs are. Prisoners, seamen, alpinists, and drivers - all would think he was one of them through and through.

Vysotsky's songs are mostly monologues by all kinds of characters: hooligans, average citizens, fairy heroes, etc., in his last years these soliloquies were on his own behalf. This original mixture expressed Vysotsky's essential features, both artistic and personal. The same blend we find in his best parts on stage (Hamlet and Galileo) and on screen (geologist in the movie 'Shor…

Summer Shore of the White Sea

Summer Shore of the White Sea: One can get here only by plane. Several times in a summer a barge sails here too, but nobody knows its schedule so it doesn’t count. Here, at the shore of the White Sea, is a village and a river … Read more...

Ivan Vasiliev conquers America

Ivan Vasiliev, principal dancer with the Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet Company, has become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater (ABT) for the 2013 season. The artist began his cooperation with the famed American company in 2011, and he now holds the same status as Natalia Osipova, his wife and dance partner. Vasiliev’s new status at the American Ballet Theater was announced by ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, who emphasized that Vasiliev will remain a principal at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. 

The ABT’s main season runs from May to July on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. In addition, the company has a full tour schedule. This configuration of the ballet season allows leading dancers from European theatres to perform abroad as well as at home. Founded in New York in 1937, the ABT has been and remains one of the major centres of the ballet world. The ABT was also the first American ballet company to perform in the Soviet Union, back in 1960. Since the beginning of the 1…

Lives Of The Poets Russia's Anna Akhmatova And Marina Tsvetaeva

Poets Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva both experienced the bittersweet and privileged, "never-to-be-returned-to" Russian childhood of the fin de siecle, when children were attended by nurses, maids carried "trays, tea sets, water bottles-even whole baked pies. . ." and funeral processions were the spectacles recorded by Pushkin, with choirs of young boys, priests burning incense, coffins draped with living flowers, stately blinkered horses, officers of the Guard, gentlemen wearing opera hats, everything bathed in the glow of lanterns. Akhmatova's story has become fixed as hagiography; what we know of her childhood comes from poems, a thin body of autobiographical prose and the memoirs and diaries of her contemporaries. She was born Anna Andreyevna Gorenko in 1889, the third of six children in a modest gentry family. Her mother's ancestors had been well-planted in the aristocracy since the 15th Century; her father's family had only attained high ran…

New Russian writers reflect modern society

Contemporary writers in Russia are finding new themes that reflect modern society but the giants of the past still have an influence. Over the past 20 years, Russian contemporary writers have been trying to find their place in a new reality. The task is Herculean because modern writers are expected on the one hand to follow a great literary tradition, but at the same time to interpret modern society. This struggle reveals itself through seven themes. Prison and war There are two extreme situations that frequently recur in Russian literature: prison and war. Generally, any author who writes about prison has their work compared to the standard bearers, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov.
Andrei Rubanov is a popular contemporary author whose topical novels explore self-transformation in prison, which sets his work apart from the tales of survivors of the Gulag system. Do Time Get Time was a self-published work written while he …

The Ancient Monastery of Armenia

The Ancient Monastery of Armenia: Armenia has a number of monasteies dated the IX-XI centuries. Many of them have been important spiritual centers of the country. In the epoch of feodalism development they even had high schools where students were taught historiography, literature, philosophy, theology, … Read more...

Nathan Altman (1889-1970) - 1911, Lady with a Dog. Portrait of Esther Schwartzmann

Altman, Nathan (1889-1970) - 1911 Lady with a Dog. Portrait of Esther Schwartzmann (Russian Museum) Altman was born in Vinnytsia, Imperial Russia. From 1902 to 1907 he studied painting and sculpture at the Art College in Odessa. In 1906 he had his first exhibition in Odessa. In 1910 he went to Paris, where he studied at the Free Russian Academy, working in the studio of Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, and had contact with Marc Chagall, Alexander Archipenko, and David Shterenberg. In 1910 he became a member of the group Union of Youth. His famous Portrait of Anna Akhmatova, conceived in Cubist style, was painted in 1914. After 1916 he started to work as a stage designer. In 1918 he was the member of the Board for Artistic Matters within the Department of Fine Arts of the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment together with Malevich, Baranoff-Rossine and Shevchenko. In the same year he had an exhibition with the group Jewish Society for the Furthering of the Arts in Moscow, together…

Gala Dali

Gala – real name Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova was a wife of Paul Éluard, lover of Max Ernst, and later a wife, a muse and the only female model of Salvador Dalí.
Elena Diakonova was born in Kazan in 1894. Her father was a modest clerk and died early. Following that Elena’s mother got married again to a lawyer. When Elena turned 17 the family moved to Moscow. Elena Diakonova got her education at the Brukhonenko Female Institute of Moscow. The sisters Anastasia and Marina Tsvetayeva (the famous poetess) studied at the same classical school.
In 1912 Elena was sent to Clavadel Resort, Switzerland to undergo treatment of tuberculosis. This was where she met Paul Éluard. His father, a rich real estate salesman, had sent him there to get cured of…poetry. The ardour, decisiveness, resoluteness, and high culture of Elena Diakonova impressed and inspired the young poet. He nicknamed her Gala from the French word meaning “triumph, festival”. She marked his first outburst of love poetry, which went o…

Sergei Prokofiev: War and Peace

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Natasha Rostov: Irina Mataeva
Conductor - Valery Gergiev

Asian City Of The Russian Empire - Tashkent

Asian City Of The Russian Empire: The Russian Empire existed from 22 October 1721 until 1971 when a Soviet Republic was announced. It was the third largest Empire in history after the Britain and Mongol ones with its Emperor having an absolute power. The city of … Read more...

Interview with Arkadii Dragomoschenko

It is with deep regret that we must report the passing of yet another brilliant poet. Arkadii Dragomoshchenko was born on February 3, 1946 in Potsdam, Germany. He moved to St. Petersburg in the late 60s and was one of Russia’s most influential poets.  Throughout his publishing career he has received many awards including the International Literary Prize in 2009. His poems have been translated into many languages, and as a translator he has translated John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Michael Palmer and many other poets in Russian.

Shushan Avagyan: Dust is a collection of essays, quite different from your previous works. How would you describe it?
Arkadii Dragomoschenko: To a certain degree, yes, it is kind of different from my former writings, i.e., poetry, and perhaps, prose works, too (I’m referring to PhosphorChinese Sun, and probably forgetting something). As we speak, I’m tempted to put the words “genre” and “type” in quote marks, because genuinely speaking I don’t h…

Boris Kustodiev - Short Biography

Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev was born in Astrakhan on March 7, 1878 into the family of a professor of philosophy, history of literature, and logic at the local theological seminary.

Between 1893 and 1896, Boris took private art lessons in Astrakhan from Pavel Vlasov, a pupil of Vasily Perov. Subsequently, from 1896 to 1903, he attended Ilya Repin’s studio at the Academy of Arts in St. Peterburg. Concurrently he took classes in sculpture under Dmitry Stelletsky and in etching under Vasily Mathé. He first exhibited in 1896.

In 1904, he attended the private studio of René Ménard in Paris. In 1904, he traveled to Spain, in 1907 to Italy, and in 1909 visited Austria, France, and Germany, and again Italy. During these years he painted many portraits and genre pieces. In 1905-06, he contributed to the satirical journals Zhupel (Bugbear) and Adskaya Pochta (Hell’s Mail). At that time, he first met the World of Art (Russian: Mir Iskusstva) artists, a group of innovative Russian artists. He jo…

Serge de Diaghilev - A Portrait [1]

This is a documentary divided into seven parts on the life of Serge de Diaghilev, founder and guiding creative force of the famed Ballets Russes company.

Nikolay Gumilev - Biography

Nikolay Gumilev was a poet of the Russian “Silver Age” (a period in Russian poetry in the beginning of the 20th century), the founder of the acmeist movement, a critic and a traveler.

He was born in Kronstadt near St. Petersburg, to a family of a naval medic. Soon after his birth, his father moved the family to Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin Town, located south of St. Petersburg). For two years, starting from 1900, their family lived in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia). When Gumilev was six years old, the “Tiflis Leaflet” (“Tiflisskiy listok”) published his first poem, named “I Fled from Cities to the Forest” (“Ya v les sbezhal iz gorodov”).

The following year, his family returned to Tsarskoye Selo, where the young poet started studying in the Nikolayevskaya male gymnasium. The gymnasium’s headmaster was Innokenty Annensky, a famous poet of the time, who had a great influence on the students. Gumilev was not particularly studious, and only received his school certificate when he was 20.

A …

Dmitri Plavinsky, 76, leading artist of Nonconformist Soviet and Contemporary Russian art, dies