There’s something dark and primaeval at the heart of Russian music that sometimes bubbles and seethes to the surface and becomes the Songs and Dances of Death or the Rite of Spring or the Scythian Suite. It’s populated by magical beings and monsters: the evil sorcerer, Chernomor; the green-taloned ogre, Kashchei; the Firebird; the tiny infantophagic witch, Baba-yaga; the Rusalka; the Kikimora; and, worse than all of these – nightmare incarnate – Stalin.
They were late starters. What we think of as Russian Music didn’t really get off the ground until the mid 19th century; yet, astonishingly, by the turn of that century, Russians had become among the most influential composers in Europe.
This study will – as well as allowing us to listen to and talk about some of the most popular and enduring pieces in the entire musical repertoire – also give an opportunity to explore some of hidden treasures of Russian music.
This Autumn, mostly by coincidence, my labours are almost entirely given over to Moscow and St. Petersburg; so, if you’re a Swansea Festival goer and/or a lover of the music of Rachmaninov, I’d be delighted to see you at:
(please click on the links)
Swansea Festival/U3A: Tchaikovsky 5th Symphony
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