Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Gifts and Prayers" and Music from the Golden Age of Russia

This past Tuesday, the Hugh Hodgson School of Music held an ensemble concert inspired by our current exhibition on 19th century objects from Russia titled “Gifts and Prayers: The Romanovs and Their Subjects.” The concert program, “Music from the Golden Age of Russian Culture,” focuses on Russian music from that same period and examines another side of art from the era of Romanov rule. Some highlights of the concert include:

Scherzo in A flat Major by Alexander Borodin


Just as some of the gifts given and received during the House of Romanov included enameled miniatures, it turns out music can have miniatures too. Clocking in at three minutes when played at the correct tempo, this vivacious and lively piece belies Alexander Borodin's own interesting background. Borodin, who was a bright youth with a passion for both the sciences and the arts, was denied access to higher education because he was born out of wedlock to a Georgian prince and a commoner. Eventually, through the help of his mother and stepfather, Borodin enrolled at the academy of medicine in Saint Petersburg.

Sonata for Violin I: Allegro by Mikhail Glinka

Glinka is known for his particularly Russian brand of classical music, and his works were performed often during the Romanov Tercentenary in 1913, which celebrated the rule of the Romanov dynasty. Under the rule of Nicholas I, Glinka's “The Life of a Tsar” became the national opera of Russia.

The last highlight is “Ya li v pole da ne travushka bila (Were I a blade of grass)” from Seven Romances Op. 47 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, sung here by Polish soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara. This sorrowful and graceful piece takes its words from a poem published in 1870 by Ivan Surikov, titled “Little-Russian Melody.”

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