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Russia is a large and extremely culturally diverse country, with dozens of ethnic groups, each with their own forms of music. During the period of Soviet domination, music was highly scrutinized and kept within certain boundaries of content and innovation. After the fall of the USSR, western-style rock and pop music became the most popular musical forms in Russia. Some native artists broke through.
Russia has a long history of classical music innovation. The first important Russian composer was Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), who added religious and folk elements to classical compositions, composing pioneering operas like A Life for the Tsar and Ruslan and Lyudmila ; though these operas were distinctively Russian, they were based on the Italian tradition.
Glinka and the composers who made up The Mighty Handful after him (Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Balakirev, Borodin and César Cui) were often influenced by Russian folk music and tales. This same period saw the foundation of the Russian Musical Society in 1859, led by composers Anton and Nikolay Rubinstein. The Mighty Handful and the Russian Music Society were rivals, with the former embracing a Russian national identity and the latter musically conservative. Among the Mighty Handful's most notable compositions were the operas The Snow Maiden ( Snegurochka ), Sadko , Boris Godunov , Prince Igor and Khovanshchina , and the symphonic suite Scheherazade .
The musical partnership of the Mighty Five was brought together by circumstance and through the help of the composer Dargomyzhsky. While Dargomyzhsky was composing The Stone Guest he became very ill. Dargomyzhsky ended up relying on a group of very talented young composers: Mily Balakirev , Cesar Cui, and Modest Mussorgsky along with Alexander Borodin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
The young group came together through talking about music and helping the older composer finish his works. It was delight, awe, it was an almost prayerful bowing before a mighty creative force, which had transformed that weak bilious, sometimes petty and envious man into a powerful giant of will, energy, and inspiration. 'The Balakirev group' was overjoyed and delighted. It surrounded Dargomyzhsky with its sincere adoration, and with its profound intellectual sympathy rewarded the poor old man in the final days of his life for all the long years of moral loneliness.
The Music of Russia (From left to right: a singer, Moussorgsky, Korsakov, (Stasov), Balakirev,Cui,and Borodin) http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://it.stlawu.edu/~rkreuzer/pbearse/the_five.jpg&imgrefurl=http://it.stlawu.edu/~rkreuzer/pbearse/The_Mighty_Five.htm&h=281&w=481&sz=33&hl=en&start=9&tbnid=9pdq8AD0K-u2eM:&tbnh=75&tbnw=129&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dthe%2BRussian%2BMightly%2BFive%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1B3GGGL_enUS239US239
The Mighty Five-- A companionship was soon built around the friendship of the older composer Dargomyzhsky and the musical talent the group shared. The group of Mily Balakirev , Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Alexander Borodin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov soon became known as "Moguchaya Kuchka", or the "Mighty Handful". The name was given to the group by Vladimir Stasov in May 1867 during a concert in which "Stasov spoke of the new composers as a small but mighty handful." The mighty handful has often been thought to be the most outstanding group of composers ever to have existed in St. Petersburg. The members of the Mighty Five were all amateur composers. They were not trained in the great music schools of the day. They taught themselves and each other how to write Russian music.
Other prominent Russian composers include Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and in the 20th century Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Shostakovich and Alfred Schnittke. Of these, Tchaikovsky remains the best known outside Russia, and his fame as the country's most famous composer is unquestioned. He is best known for ballets like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker .
During the 19th century, Count Uvarov led a campaign of nationalist revival which initiated the first professional orchestra with traditional instruments, beginning with Vassily Andreyev, who used the balalaika in an orchestra late in the century. Just after the dawn of the 20th century, Mitrofan Pyatnitsky founded the Pyatnitsky Choir, which used rural peasant singers and traditional sounds. By the time of the Soviet Union, however, it had become one of many groups playing sanitized folk music, now often called fakelore .
The Music of Russia The Balalaika It is not known when and how the balalaika became part of the musical tradition of the Russian people, but there is no doubt that it occupies a central place in their hearts today. Though clearly established as a folk instrument since the 17th Century, the balalaika experienced a serious threat to its popularity in the early and middle 19th Century, when the seven-stringed guitar and the concertina were introduced into Russia. Compared to these fashionable European imports the balalaika increasingly fell out of favor. In the 1880's however, Vladimir. V. Andreev, aristocrat, folklorist and musician, came to its rescue. He heard the balalaika while he was collecting folk songs, fell in love with its sound, and decided to become its champion. http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Bayou/5961/BR-photo.jpg
In the 1910s romances (in exotic Russian, Caucasian, Gypsy and Italian styles) became very popular. The greatest and most popular singers of romances usually sang in operas at the same time. Singers usually composed music and wrote the lyrics. Musically and structurally based on romances are the bard songs (starting in the 60's) and the criminal songs. The bard genre can be compared to the American folk-revival movement of the 60's, closer to poetry than music.
The Soviet Era produced many prominent musicians in spite of oppression from the government. Some émigrés remained popular abroad, like pianist Vladimir Horowitz, whose 1986 performance in Moscow, the first in his native land, was a landmark event.
Many underground rock bands arose during early 80s: Center, Aquarium, Secret, Zoopark, and Trek.
They formed active musical communities. During Perestroika they became mainstream, notable bands of that time include DDT, Alisa, and Sektor Gaza.
DDT, Aria and Alisa are still active today and are very popular with the modern youth.
Lesser known but still popular bands playing in diverse styles were common, too. Notable examples are Zvuki Mu and Televizor.
The Music of Russia Russian Rock Group Aquarium played a special part in the history of Soviet rock music and still stands out in the panorama of modern bands. It was the activity of this group in the early 1980s that served as a catalyst for consolidation of the leading creative powers of the uncoordinated amateurish rock movement. It helped to enrich the rock language with many achievements of world music culture and attract the attention of multi-million Russian and foreign audience to the Russian language rock. russia-ic.com/culture_art/music/381/
The first major study of Bashkir music appeared in 1897, when ethnographer Rybakov (S.G.) wrote Music and Songs of the Ural's Muslims and Studies of Their Way of Life . Later, Lebedinskiy (L.N.) collected numerous folk songs in Bashkortostan beginning in 1930. The 1968 foundation of the Ufa State Institute of Arts sponsored research in the field.
The Buryats of the far east is known for distinctive folk music which uses the two-stringed horsehead fiddle, or morin khur. The style has no polyphony and has little melodic innovation. Narrative structures are very common; many of them are long epics which claim to be the last song of a famous hero, such as in the Last Song of Rinchin Dorzhin . Modern Buryat musicians include the band Uragsha, which uniquely combines Siberian and Russian language lyrics with rock and Buryat folk songs.
The Music of Russia www.fiddlingaround.co.uk/china/index.html www.philmultic.com/home/instruments/ Morin Khur (Ma-Tou-Qin): The Morin Khur or horse-headed violin is a typical Mongolian bowed instrument with two strings, however, very different from Er-Hu. The horse hair of the bow doesn't go between the two strings, instead, the instrument and the way of playing is more similar to cello than to erhu. The instrument was originally made from a horse head for the body, horse skin for the resonator, and horse hair for the strings and bow. Much of the music typically sounds like human voice, and can imitate a horse to such an extent as real such as galloping horse, the whinnying, etc. The modern Morin Khur has a wooden body and soundboard, 2 horse hair strings, and has a rich warm tone and very beautiful sound. The peghead is decorated with a detailed carving of a horse's head.
Alongside the Chechen rebellion of the 1990s, came a resurgence in Chechen national identity, of which music is a major part. People like Said Khachukayev became prominent promoting Chechen music.The Chechen national anthem is said to be "Death or Freedom", an ancient song of uncertain origin.
Dagestan's most famous composer may be Gotfrid Hasanov, who is said to be the first professional composer from Dagestan. He wrote the first Dagestani opera, Khochbar , in 1945, and recorded a great deal of folk music from all the peoples of Dagestan.
Karelians are Finnish, and so much of their music is the same as Finnish music. The Kalevala is a very important part of traditional music; it is a recitation of Finnish legends, and is considered an integral part of the Finnish folk identity.
Coming from the land of the Kalevala, the Karelian Ensemble is a lively and entertaining trio from the Russian Republic of Karelia, on the Finnish border. Their music ranges from ancient epic songs accompanied by kanteles to a cappella Russian village songs, from old shepherd melodies on wooden trumpet and flutes to Finnish dance tunes on accordions and from scythe accompaniment to church bells.
Archeology and direct evidence (such as the frescoes at the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev) show a variety of musical instruments in ancient Russia. Authentic folk instruments include the livenka (accordion) and woodwinds like zhaleika, svirel and kugikli, as well as numerous percussion instruments: buben, bubenci, kokshnik, korobochka, lozkhi, rubel, treschetka, vertushka and zvonchalka.
Chastushkas are a kind of Russian folk song with a long history. They are typically rapped, and are humorous or satiric.
Shamanism remains an important cultural practice of the ethnic groups of Siberia and Sakhalin, where several dozen groups live. The Yakuts are the largest, and are known for their olonkho songs and the khomus, a Jew's harp or jaw harp.
Tatar folk music has rhythmic peculiarities and pentatonic intonation in common with nations of the Volga area, who are ethnically Finno-Ugric and Turkic. Singing girls, renowned for their subtlety and grace, are a prominent component of Tatar folk music. Instruments include the kubyz (violin), kurai (flute) and talianka (accordion).
The Music of Russia http://www.antropodium.nl/chemch5,5blauw.jpg A Siberian Khomus (Jaw Harp)
Tuvan throat singing, or xoomii, is famous world-wide, primarily for its novelty. The style is highly unusual and foreign to most listeners, who typically find it inaccessible and not melodic. In throat singing, the natural harmonic resonances of the lips and mouth are tuned to select certain overtones. The style was first recorded by Ted Levin, who helped catalogue a number of different styles. These are include borbannadir (which is compared to the sound of a flowing river), sygyt (similar to whistling), xoomii, chylandyk (likened to chirping crickets) and ezengileer (like a horses trotting).
Though the Ukraine is now an independent country, Ukrainians constitute the second-largest minority in Russia. The bandura is the most important and distinctive instrument of the Ukrainian folk tradition, and was utilized by the famous 15th century kobzars, a kind of wandering performing who composed dumy, or folk epics.
The Music of Russia cache.eb.com/eb/image?id=67506&rendTypeId=4 Person playing the bandura. BANDURA (Also called a Kobza)-- a stringed instrument of the psaltery family considered the national musical instrument of Ukraine. It is used chiefly to accompany folk music. The bandura has an oval wooden body; a short, fretless neck attached to the soundboard in an off-centre position; 4 to 8 bass strings running from the neck.