08 July 2009

The Russians Are Coming!

For some reason, I am gaga for Russian art in many forms. I love the music, the poetry, the plays, the operas, the literature. It can't be genetic since, despite the name of this blog, I'm not Russian. I do love melancholy things though so maybe that's the connection.

This musing was brought on by my trip to hear the Philharmonic perform selected works of Sergei Prokofiev. So I thought I might mention a few other Russian artists that I truly love.

Modest Mussorgsky wrote my favourite piece of classical music by a Russian composer: Pictures At An Exhibition. He also wrote Night on Bald Mountain which is featured in Walt Disney's Fantasia and the opera Boris Godunov.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is probably the most famous Russian composer, especially if you are a ballet lover. I was lucky enough to be selected for District Honours Orchestra the year that the entire Nutcracker (not just the Suite) was on the performance schedule. I also love Swan Lake & Sleeping Beauty. And who doesn't love the 1812 Overture performed with live cannons & fireworks! He also wrote operas based on stories by Alexander Pushkin - my favourite opera of all time "The Queen Of Spades" and "Evgeny Onyegin".

Anton Chekov is a favourite playwright. I especially love "The Three Sisters". And though some may scoff at Leo Tolstoy and avoid his books, I really did love "Anna Karenina". It was sort-of Jane Austenesque, except that it was Russian. Anna Akmahtova and Alexander Pushkin are favourite poets.

In school, I made a film set to Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird". Hmm. I wonder if I gave Disney the idea to use it for "Fantasia 2000". Probably not.

The strangest connection I have with Russian art, though, is with the Rimsy-Korsakov piece "Scheherazade". As if my name wasn't odd enough, my pet name at home was Scheherazade. Go figure. At least it's a nice piece of music.

So, even if Shostakovich Tone Poems aren't your thing, maybe there's a Russian artist out there that you would enjoy.

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