Showing posts from October, 2012

Foreign Photographers In Soviet Odessa

Foreign Photographers In Soviet Odessa: These photographs were taken in Odessa of the 1970-80s by foreign photographers Ian Berry and Peter Marlow. In fact only one photo belongs to the second. Some of the shots seem to be gloomy, could it be because foreign photographers … Read more...

Victor Borisov-Musatov

Victor Musatov (he appended the name Borisov later) was born on April 14, 1870 in Saratov, Russia, in the family of a minor railway official who had been a serf. In his early childhood he had suffered a bad fall, which left him humpbacked for the rest of his life. The tact and understanding of his parents, who encouraged his fondness for art, and the lessons of the young painter Konovalov contributed much to the formation of his artistic personality.

In 1890 Musatov left his native town to enroll in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Dissatisfied with the system of teaching at the school, which was then going through a severe crisis, he left for St. Petersburg a year later, hoping to receive better professional training at the capital's Academy of Fine Arts. But the conservative academic system of training did not appeal to him, and only in the private school of Tchistyakov, a well-known teacher of the Academy, could he work with real enthusiasm. The damp …

Essays on Russian Novelists: Dostoevsky

The life of Dostoevski contrasts harshly with the luxurious ease and steady level seen in the outward existence of his two great contemporaries, Turgenev and Tolstoi. From beginning to end he lived in the very heart of storms, in the midst of mortal coil. He was often as poor as a rat; he suffered from a horrible disease; he was sick and in prison, and no one visited him; he knew the bitterness of death. Such a man's testimony as to the value of life is worth attention; he was a faithful witness, and we know that his testimony is true.

Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevski was born on the 30 October 1821, at Moscow. His father was a poor surgeon, and his mother the daughter of a mercantile man. He was acquainted with grief from the start, being born in a hospital. There were five children, and they very soon discovered the exact meaning of such words as hunger and cold. Poverty in early years sometimes makes men rather close and miserly in middle age, as it certainly did in the case of I…

Marina Tsvetaeva: Bound for Hell

Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we’re bound; we’ll drink the pitch of hell—
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle—in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we’re now borne away.

Every morning, every day, we’d rise
And have the finest Chinese silks to wear;
And we’d strike up the songs of paradise
Around the campfire of a robbers’ lair,

We, careless seamstresses (our seams all ran,
Whether we sewed or not)—yet we have been
Such dancers, we have played the pipes of Pan:
The world was ours, each one of us a queen.

First, scarcely draped in tatters, and disheveled,
Then plaited with a starry diadem;
We’ve been in jails, at banquets we have reveled:
But the rewards of heaven, we’re lost to them,

Lost in nights of starlight, in the garden
Where apple trees from paradise are found.
No, be assured, my gentle girls, my ardent
And lovely sisters, hell is where we’re bound.


Velimir Khlebnikov - Biography

Victor Khlebnikov (Velimir) was born on October 28th, 1885 (according to the Gregorian calendar used in Russia inXIX century, on November 9th according to European calendar). His birthplace was so-called ulus – administrative unit of Kalmykia in the Lower Volga where his father was a head of the local authorities. Khlebnikov’s mother belonged to the Russian nobility. Victor had two brothers and two sisters. At first they had a good education at home. Then Victor attended a school and left it with a good certificate, in which it was written that he studied mathematics with great interest. In 1903 he entered the Kazan University on mathematics. After taking part in a student demonstration he was arrested and spent a month in prison. Soon after he left the University. Nevertheless next year he entered it once again this time on biology. But his passion for literature was so great that in 1908 he left for Petersburg (then the capital of Russia). There he frequented poetic meetings, bohemian …

Kandalaskha: life beyond the Arctic Circle

What would it be like to live beyond the Arctic Circle?

Welcome to the town of Kandalaskha (Кандалакша) where 36,000 people live in an area that in many ways shares a sense of life perhaps in rural areas near you. A longtime friend from the Appalachians asked recently what it was like in Kandalaskha. Of course he’d discovered a lady of interest on the Internet there and was curious about life in her part of the world.

At first I was about to say that very few things represent the same between his little slice of the world and hers. But then after a moment to ponder, I began to realize how many things are much the same. Of course there is no seaport, no large body of water, no seals swimming up to people, and no large oil production in Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee. There is no passenger train service several times daily and Appalachian and Cumberland states are much warmer in winter.

But there are some striking similarities: In both regions there is coal, pove…

Soviet People And Collective Farms

Soviet People And Collective Farms: It was a whole epoch. The country was trying to come back to normal life after the war. Old and young people were spending their lives at the collective farms and it was as hard as hell. Women gave birth … Read more...

Mayakovsky Fever

It is no secret that Russians love to idolize their poets.
In recent weeks the city has seen a resurgence in events dedicated to the works and lives of Russia’s favorite poets and bards, such as Kino frontman Viktor Tsoi and Soviet legend Vladimir Vysotsky.
In a new festival that began Friday at Mod club, titled “Mayakovsky Takoi,” which can be roughly translated as “Mayakovsky As He Is,” the Silver-Age poet Vladimir Mayakovsky joins the list of venerated great lyricists, in a program of events that stretches over four weekends.
The poet, who shot himself in 1930, is a cult favorite among Russians of all generations, as was evident at the festival’s launch on Friday, at which hip youths, grunge rockers and elegant elderly women intermingled freely. The program of the night was dedicated to love lyricism, and included an opening lecture on constructivism as well as recitations of Mayakavosky’s poetry set to a musical accompaniment and a closing concert headlined by Jenia Lubich.
An exhibit…

Gold of Silver Age - Osip Mandelstam

One of the greatest poets of the 20th century, Osip Mandelstam, - a brilliant figure of Russia’s Silver Age, a prophet poet who fell out of favour, yet became a Russian classic, - would have turned 120 on January 15th. The fellow poets referred to him as whimsical, abrasive, soul-stirring and a man of genius.

The memorable date will be marked by literary soirees and conferences, a festival and a number of exhibitions in many Russian cities until the end of this month. But these will be basically held in the cities that have to do with the poet’s tragic life, such as St. Petersburg, where Mandelstam lived since early childhood and whence he left for Heidelberg University and the Sorbonne in Paris prior to 1917, to attend lectures. Another Mandelstam-related Russian city is Voronezh, in Central Russia, where he lived in exile under Stalin’s regime. Yet another such city is Vladivostok, on Russia’s Pacific coast, where Mandelstam died in a Stalin concentration camp at the age of 47.


Konstantin Makovsky: Kuzma Minin appeals to the people of Nizhny Novgorod to raise a volunteer army against the Poles

Konstantin Yegorovich Makovsky was an influential Russian painter, affiliated with the "Peredvizhniki (Wanderers)". Many of his historical paintings, such as The Russian Bride's Attire (1889), showed an idealized view of Russian life of prior centuries. He is often considered a representative of a Salon art.

Konstantin was born in Moscow as the older son of a Russian art figure and amateur painter, Yegor Ivanovich Makovsky. His mother was a music composer, and hoped his son would one day follow up.

In 1851 Konstantin entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture where he became the top student, easily getting all the available awards. His teachers were МM.I. Skotty, pupils of Karl Brullov. Makovsky's inclinations to Romanticism and decorative effects can be explained by the influence of Briullov. Although art was his passion, he also considered what his mother had wanted him to do. He set off to look for composers he could refer to, and first went…

Boris Pasternak: To Love Another is a Heavy Cross

To love another is a heavy cross;
you are beautiful, without guile,
to discern your secret
solves the riddle of life together.
Spring hears the sounds of dreams
and the rustling of truth and its message.
Your family gave you firm foundations.
Your essence is as unselfish as the wind.
It’s easy to wake and start to see,
and shake off the rubbish from one’s heart,
and, then, live, clearly, without confusion,
All of this… it’s not so hard.


Moscow: Thirty Years Later

Moscow: Thirty Years Later: Moscow is rapidly changing, new high-rise buildings are growing and some people like it, others – don’t. Here’s a selection of photos to compare Moscow of the 80s with Moscow of the present days. Now there is a communication salon … Read more...

Nikolay Zabolotsky: Autumn

When day is done and nature doesn't choose
The light to her own taste,
The spacious halls of autumn woods
Stand open to the air like clean houses.
Hawks live in them, and crows pass the night,
The clouds above them drift like ghosts.

The substance of autumn leaves has dried
And blanketed the land, while in the distance
A large four-legged creature
Walks, lowing, towards a misty village
Bull, bull! Is it true you are no longer king?
A maple leaf reminds us all of amber.

O Autumn Spirit, give me strength to rule my pen!
In the air's structure there's diamond.
The bull retreates beyond the bend,
The sun's mass
Hangs like a misty ball above the land
And glittering, bloodies the land's edge.

Turning a round eye under its lid
A large bird flies low.
Its glide suggests a human being.
Or, at the very least he hides
In embryonic state between the wide wings.
A beetle opens up its little house amidst the leaves.

The architecture of autumn. Its arrangement
Of airy space, woods, river,
The arrangemen…

Vasily Perov: Pugachev's Judgement

Vasily Grigoryevich Perov is one of the most predominating figures in Russian painting of the 1860s. He lived at a time when an artist’s indifference to social problems was considered immoral in Russia. And it was Perov who took up a vital and most complicated task of establishing the principles of critical realism. His pictures carried strong social implication and thus became an important landmark in the history of Russian painting.

Vasily Perov was an illegitimate son of the baron G. K. Kridiner, an Arzamas prosecutor. In 1846, he entered the Art School of Stupin in Arzamas, where he got his nickname of Perov (from Russian pero, pen) for his good handwriting. Since 1853 till 1861, Perov studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture.

For his Sermon in a Village, painted as a diploma work in 1861, the St. Petersburg Academy awarded Perov the Grand Gold medal and subsidized his trip abroad. The same year, 1861, Perov’s Easter Procession in a Village was removed…

Sergei Rachmaninoff video and voice


Underground Magic

Underground Magic: Ruskealsky gap is a place in Karelia. It’s a huge hole about ten meters (33 ft) deep with water on its bottom. As locals say it formed in the 1960s after strong explosions in the neighbouring quarry. The roof of … Read more...

Zinaida Gippius: Today on earth

That is a difficult,
Such a shameful,
Nearly impossible –
What a difficult task:

Raise eyelashes and look
Into the face of a mother
Whose son has been killed.

It is best not to say a thing.

In One of the Oldest Moscow Houses

In One of the Oldest Moscow Houses: There is a nice place in Moscow – a house of the Volkov-Yusupovs. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Moscow, it was built in the XVII century and was painted and decorated in the end of the XIX century … Read more...


It is not for nothing that Vladimir is called the gate of the Golden Ring of Russia: for over 250 years it fulfilled most important functions as the capital of the Old Russian State. Its outstanding ancient churches and cathedrals remain the true decoration of the city and attract tourists from all over the world here.

The city of Vladimir with the population of 350 thousand people stands on the left bank of the Klyasma River. Nowadays this historical city is a significant trade and transport center with numerous industries.

Points of interest

Assumption Cathedral (12th century)Crystal, Lacquer Miniatures and Embroidery exhibition featuring the crafts of Gus-Khrustalny and other nearby towns takes place by the Golden Gate, in the red-brick old Believer’s Trinity Church (1913-16). To the east of the St. Dmitry Cathedral one can see the white wall of the Nativity Monastery (1191-96). This was the most important monastery in Russia until the 16th century. Alexander Nevsky's body was bur…

Ivan Bunin: Rusia

He leaned to the window, and she leaned on his shoulder.

“Once I spent a vacation in this area,” he said, “I was a tutor in a summer cottage, about five miles away from hear. Boring place. Scarce woods, magpies, mosquitoes, and dragonflies. No decent landscape whatsoever. In the cottage, one could only enjoy the skyline from the attic. The house, of course, was very Russian-style and very unattended – it belonged to an impoverished family – with a strip of land behind it that bore some resemblance to the garden. Behind that garden was either a lake or a swamp, all plant-filled with pond lilies and with a usual boat by the boggy bank.

“And a languid provincial girl you gave rides across this swamp.”
“Of course, just the way it always is. The girl however, was far from being the languid kind. I gave her rides mostly at nights, and it had a certain poetry. In the west, the sky was greenish all night, and transparent; on the horizon, just like now, something was burning down… We found only o…

Paying tribute to Shostakovich

Beyond the decades of controversy, political tumult, and suffering Dmitri Shostakovich endured, there is of course, his singular and arresting music.
However at the same time it’s impossible to ignore his chaotic life, which veered from the highest acclaim to the deepest despair more than once. Few composers are as closely associated with Stalin as Shostakovich.
Stalin was fascinated with the composer, as he was with other artists such as the poet Boris Pasternak. Yet Shostakovich came very close to being purged, first during the Terror of the 1930s, and then again a dozen years later.
Dmitri Shostakovich's biography
Dmitri Shostakovich was born in 1906 in St. Petersburg and studied piano and composition at the conservatory. In 1934 Shostakovich collaborated with Aleksei Dikij on the legendary opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.” During the first months of the siege of Leningrad in 1941 Shostakovich was in the city. He survived the first bombardments and joined the “night watch” patrol, h…

Nikolay Nekrasov: Russia's Lament

Dost thou know, my native country,
Any house or corner lone
Where thy Tiller and thy Sower,
Russia's peasant, does not moan?

In the fields, along the highways,
In the cells and dungeons black,
In the mines in iron fetters,
By the side of barn and stack;

'Neath the carts, his nightly shelter
On the steppes so wide and bare,
All the air is filled with groaning
Every hour and everywhere.

Groans in huts, in town and village —
E'en the sunlight's self he hates—
Groans before the halls of justice,
Buffetings at mansion-gates.

On the Volga, hark, what wailing
O'er the mighty river floats?
'Tis a song, they say—the chanting
Of the men who haul the boats.

Thou dost not in spring, vast Volga,
Flood the fields along thy strand
As our nation's flood of sorrow,
Swelling, overflows the land.

O my heart, what is the meaning
Of this endless anguish deep?
Wilt thou ever, O my country,
Waken, full of strength, from sleep?

Or, by heaven's mystic mandate,
Is thy fate fulf…

Abramtsevo: refuge of Slavophiles and cradle of Neo-Russian style

The famous Abramtsevo estate is situated 50 kilometres to the north of Moscow, in a dark forest of spruces, on a bank of the river Voria.It has been mentioned in Russian chronicles since the 18th century. In the 19th century, Abramtsevo became one of the most famous places associated with Russian culture. 90 years ago the estate was given the status of a state historical and literary museum.
An alley of old lime-trees leads to a wide yard and a wooden house. It is a small building with an attic and two porches, nothing grand. But still, the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov wanted the house in his play “The Cherry Orchard” to look exactly like the one in Abramtsevo. Another Russian literary classic, Turgenev , gave a detailed description of the house in his novel “The Noblemen’s Nest”. In an interview for “The Voice of Russia” Anna Kuznetsova from the museum’s staff said:
“It all began in 1843, when the estate was bought by the famous writer Sergey Aksakov. He was delighted with Abr…

Vladimir Solovyov: Below the Sultry Storm

BELOW the sultry storm that seemed to lower,
An alien force, again I heard the call
Of my mysterious mate: the prisoned power
Of old dreams flared and flickered in its fall.

And with a cry of horror and of dolor—
As of an eagle in an iron vise—
My spirit shook its cage in quivering choler,
And tore the net, and issued to the skies.

And up behind the clouds, unswerving, bearing,—
Before the miracles—a flaming sea—
Within the shining sanctum briefly flaring,
It vanished into white infinity.

Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps. Modern Russian Poetry. 1921.

Ilya Repin, Moonlight, 1896


Nizhny Novgorod


Alina Ibragimova: 'The more I feel, the more I can express'

The violinist Alina Ibragimova doesn't do things the easy way. As a result, her playing possesses both terrifying rawness and electrifying energy.

There are some performers who don't so much interpret music as become it, as if it possesses them so completely that there is no difference in the moment of performance between the player, the music, the composer and their audience. And of all the brilliant young violinists around today, it's 27-year-old Alina Ibragimova who embodies this most completely. Her performances of repertoire from Bach – her radical, incendiary recordings of the solo sonatas and partitas were hailed as a classic – to Huw Watkins, from Beethoven to Karl Amadeus Hartmann, have an intensity and a commitment that makes her an utterly compelling musician.

I ask her where it comes from. "I've no idea," she says, "but I do think it's important that music should speak as directly as possible. We should always be trying to achieve someth…

Vedomosti - Russian printed newspaper

On January 2, 1703, Vedomosti, the first Russian printed newspaper came out on order of Peter the Great.

Peter the Great found it essential to have printed media to lobby for his reforms among the population and saw it as an effective tool of asserting his power throughout the Russian state. In his decree, he ordered that all news coming from throughout the country and abroad be collected and published to be accessible to a wide audience for a modest fee. The Vedomosti was an official medium and Peter took an active part in selecting materials for publication, checking the quality of the translations and making corrections.

Vedomosti became the first printed newspaper in Russia, though the Courants, its hand-written predecessor, had been regularly issued since 1621, while separate single issues had been distributed even earlier, in 1600.

The hand-written Courants was published with only enough copies being written for the specific customers. Such a system significantly assisted the w…

Osip Mandelstam: The Falling Is the Constant...

The falling is the constant mate of fear,
And feel of emptiness is the feel of fright.
Who throws us the stones from the height --
And stones here refuse the dust to bear?

Once, striding in a monk’s unbending mode,
You pierced the yard from rim to other rim;
The cobble-stones and the coarse dream --
Have thirst for death and sadness of the broad-

Let Gothic shelter be in ruins turned
Where ceiling serves as a deceptive fable,
And in the heath the gaily logs don’t burn!

A few here for eternity were born;
But if your mind has only instant label
Your lot is awful and your home unstable!

Zinaida Serebriakova: Short Biography

Zinaida Serebryakova was born on the estate of Neskuchnoye near Kharkov. Her father, Yevgeny Lansere, was a well-known sculptor, and her mother, who was related to Alexander Benois, was good at drawing. One of Zinaida's brothers, Nikolai, was a talented architect, and her other brother, Yevgeny Lansere, had an important place in Russian and Soviet art as a master of monumental painting and graphic art.

Zinaida's childhood and youth were spent in St. Petersburg, where her grandfather the architect N. L. Benois lived, and at Neskuchnoye. The family was so artistic that no one was surprised by the girl's talent and desire to become an artist.

Her years of study did not last long. In 1901 she studied at the art school headed by IIya Repin, and later she was taught by Osip Braz. Zinaida's early works, which appeared at an exhibition in 1909, already showed her own style and field of interests. While studying classical art in the Hermitage and in the museums of France and It…

Chagall Etchings for Dead Souls

Chagall (1887-1985) did not begin making etchings until 1921. After his return from Russia, he first tried his hand at etching in the prints he executed for his autobiography, My Life (Berlin, 1922-23). Moving to Paris, Chagall was approached by Ambroise Vollard, who wished to commission him to produce a set of etchings for a deluxe "livre de peintre" like the ones Vollard had already commissioned from Bonnard and Rouault. Chagall rejected Vollard’s choice of texts and instead suggested Gogol’s Dead Souls. The result is one of the masterpieces of modern art.Jean Adehmar’s brief summary in his Twentieth Century Graphics gives us some keys for entry into the work: "the numerous figures in profile show astonishing types; the Expressionist influence is very noticeable and the Russian atmosphere is admirably rendered." The characterizations of the people whom Chagall presents us are so striking that we instantly recognize them not simply as portaits of individuals but …