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Music and Ballet

Music and Ballet
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Music and Ballet

It was Mikhail Glinka (1804 — 1857) who laid the foundation for modern

Russian music. After three years of study in Italy, he began to suffer from the wish to hear music expressing the temperament of his own people.

His two best-known operas, Ivan Susanin and Ruslan and Lyudmila, were based on Russian folklore and historical legend.

Glinka’s works inspired a group of five younger composers who emerged as an extraordinary musical phenomenon in the late nineteenth century:

Miliy Balakirev (1836 — 1910), Alexander Borodin (1833 — 1887), Modest

Mussorgsky (1839 — 1881), Caesar Cui (1835 — 1918), and Nicholai Rimsky-

Korsakov (1844 — 1908).


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 — 1893) the best-known of all Russian composers, gave up a position in the civil service at the age of twenty- three to devote himself entirely to music, much against the wishes of his father. After completing his studies at St Peterburg Conservatoire, he set out for Moscow in 1866 to take up a Teaching post.

His financial circumstances took a turn for the better in 1877 when he acquired a wealthy patroness, Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck, who for the next fourteen years was to support him. By 1878 he had already composed the music for the ballet Swan Lake and one of his most famous operas , Eugene

Onegin. These were followed by the opera The Queen of Spades (1890) and the ballets Sleeping Beauty (1889) and The Nutcracker (1892). Now internationally famous, he spent much of his time travelling around abroad to hear his works performed.


Tchaikovsky was followed by his pupil Sergei Taneyev (1856 — 1915), who in his turn taught Sergei Rachmaninov (1873—1943), the great pianist and composer, Alexander Scryabin (1872 — 1915) and Rein-gold Gliere (1875 —

1956). Another composer, Alexander Glazunov (1865 — 1936), had an important influence on the new generation of Russian composers during his time as a teacher and director of the St Petersburg Conservatoire, before he left

Russia for France in 1928.


Igor Stravinsky was in his middle twenties when he met Sergei Diaghilev, the celebrated impressario of the Ballets Russes and went with him to

Paris. In his works, particularly in the ballets Firebird and Petrushka, he was inspired by the Russian folk music. Stravinsky became a French citizen in 1934,but during the Second World War he moved to the United



Like many other composers of the younger generation, Sergei Prokofiev

(1891 — 1953) and Dmitry Shostakovich (1906—1975) owed a debt to Glazunov.

He persuaded Prokofiev’s father to send him to the Conservatoire to develop his musical talent, and defended young Shostakovich’s right to a scholarship there.

In the thirties, along with Prokofiev and others, Shostakovich fell into disgrace for “ideological deficiencies” and for a number of years almost all his works were banned and not performed in public.

Another Russian composer of the twentieth century to gain wide international popularity, is Aram Khachaturian (1903 — 1978), whose works include symphonies, ballet music and concertos for piano, violin and violoncello. One of his most famous works is the ballet Spartacus.


It was a Frenchman, Marius Petipa (1819 — 1910), who laid the foundation of Russian dance and influenced the development of classical ballet in

Russia in the nineteenth century. Petipa cooperated with Tchaikovsky on The

Sleeping Beautu and The Nutcracker. He himself created 57 full-length ballets, and directed 17 revivals.

In 1909 Russian ballet suddenly burst upon Europe, when Sergei

Diaghilev, the brilliant producer, and Mikhail Fokine, a leading choreographer, took a company of dancers from the Imperial School of it

Petersburg to Paris. His Ballets Russes were wonderful productions with colorful sets designed by some of Russia's finest artists, such as

Alexander Benois and Lev Bakst, but the greatest sensation were the male dancers, Vazlav Nijinsky and Sergei Lifar.

After the Revolution ballet schools throughout the Soviet Union received strong state support. Some outstanding new works were produced, such as

Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (1946) and Khachaturian's Spartacus (1968).

In the Fifties Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet and the Kirov Ballet (formerly the Imperial Ballet of St Petersburg) made their first, highly appreciated tours in the West. Today Russian dancers are still unsurpassed in their mastery of the pure classical style.


Это был Михаил Глинка, который заложил основу современной русской музыки. После трех лет учебы в Италии, он хотел услышать музыку, выражающую характер людей. Две его знаменитые оперы «Иван Сусанин», «Руслан и Людмила» были основаны на русском фольклоре и исторических легендах.

Работы Глинки вдохновили группу 5 молодых композиторов, которые появились, как музыкальный феномен в конце XIX века: Мили Балакирев (1836 —

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