St Petersburg A Cultural History ePUB × A Cultural

St Petersburg A Cultural History ePUB × A Cultural

St Petersburg A Cultural History [EPUB] ✴ St Petersburg A Cultural History By Solomon Volkov – The city of St Petersburg became the center of liberal opposition to the dominating power of the state whether czarist or communist Acclaimed Russian historian and emigre Volkov writes the definitive The city of St Petersburg A Cultural PDF ✓ became the center of liberal opposition to the dominating power of the state whether czarist or communist Acclaimed Russian historian and emigre St Petersburg Kindle - Volkov writes the definitive cultural biography of that famed city sharply detailing the well known figures of the arts whose works are now part of the permanent fabric Petersburg A Cultural ePUB ´ of Western high culture Photos.

10 thoughts on “St Petersburg A Cultural History

  1. J.M. Hushour J.M. Hushour says:

    The first time I went to St Petersburg I found myself one night huddled against the low and dark wall of an attic with about 30 4o other people watching an actor in full on period costume read out loud and act out loud the scene from Crime and Punishment when Raskolnikov agonizing and determined all at once sets out to kill the old lady At the end he uietly walked out down the stairs and out into the street where the audience was directed to follow He vanished around the corner We all stood there stunned Should we have stopped him?It was then that I pretty much decided Pete was the best city on the planet For a reader or fan of any art it's one of the most wonderful places to drown in culturally Volkov's book is a thickly detailed history of that cultureFrom the beginnings up to Gergiev assuming conductorship of the Kirov in the 90s he digs deep discussing all the various arts and their various schools and various individuals their relation to the tsarist then Soviet governments and basically introducing you to a lot of outstanding literature poetry painting and music that you've probably never heard of My favored period of literature is 20th century Russian literature and even I discovered authors I've never heard ofMore Volkov paints a wide canvas of how the city itself was perceived by artists Gogol and Dostoevsky's dark and forbidding and wonderful nightmare city; the crushed post Revolution city; the martyr city under siege; the rebellious cityThe only part where the book falls flat is the sections on ballet which are taken to ridiculous lengths but I'm not a fan so thereAll around a wonderful history of art and a city

  2. Alex Zakharov Alex Zakharov says:

    Getting into Russian literature and art can be daunting mercifully this introduction limits the scope of the dive to Saint Petersburg Of course that still leaves a mountain of names to sort through but Volkov curates the material nicely by threading the names around city’s history As expected he covers the greatest hits including Dostoevsky Gogol Brodsky Malevich and Shostakovich but there are plenty of lesser known figures as well such as Konstantin Vaginov Maria Yudina Pavel Filonov and Aleksandr Kushner Finally there is a whole slew of names I never heard of and I was born and raised there I suspect the book may be somewhat disorienting if one is unfamiliar with Russian and particularly Soviet history Russian art of 20th century is tightly bound and necessarily reflective of the horrors that the country had to go through 60 million citizens killed by their own government and a regime that optimized for euality in slavery will and did permanently damage country’s demographics and cultural psycheIn addition Stalin always had a knife out for Leningrad as the city was often perceived to be the seat of political rivalry “The crime of the century” 1934 Kirov’s assassination and Leningrad Affair are merely the most obvious examples And Stalin’s sacrifice of the city’s population to the Nazis resulted in a 900 day blockade where a third of city starved to death Given this extreme codependence of culture and history Volkov is forced to walk a fine line between covering history while ostensibly writing about culture and vice versa Sometimes the narrative gets away from him but overall he holds the fortLuckily the book is not as Russian centric as I make it sound The constant reappearance of America and the West makes the arc of the story pretty relatable You get to find out why Sartre wrote to the Chairman of Soviet Presidium Mikoyan why “New Yorker” refused to publish a chapter of Nabokov’s “Speak Memory” and who was the pianist behind the opening scene of “Death of Stalin” You also get to collect a good number of cultural brownie points For example did you know that Tchaikovsky joined an anti terrorist organization in 1881? And while you may be familiar with the infamous midnight chat between Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin in 1945 Volkov’s take on it is uniue since he personally knew the poet In full disclosure I read the Russian edition but I did glance over the English translation which looked perfectly reasonable with exception of uoted poetry of course

  3. Bill Bill says:

    So much that was great in applied art in dance and ballet in music composition in art and art appreciation came from St Petersburg and I don't mean Florida The author is a native and knows his subject well This is a city that will never let go of culture no matter what it may cost it in other things a trait worth emulating

  4. Katrina Sark Katrina Sark says:

    pxv – The Petersburg mythos according to a modern scholar “reflects the uintessence of life on the edge over the abyss on the brink of death” p4 – “If you have a trough the pigs will come” Pushkin in a letter to a friend about his wife The Bronze Horseman subtitles by the author “A Petersburg Tale” is set during the flood of 1824 one of the worst of many that has regularly befallen the city p9 10 – First Peter started to fantasize about a place like Amsterdam clean neat easily observable and therefore controllable on the water with rows of trees reflected in the city’s canals The Peter’s vision grew much grander His city would soar like an eagle it would be a fortress a port an enormous wharf a model for all Russia and at the same time a shop window on the West p10 – The first house in Petersburg – for Peter himself two rooms and a storeroom that doubled as bedroom – was built of fir logs by the tsar with the help of soldiers in three days in May 1703 p11 – The Amsterdam model was soon abandoned Peter was now going after no less than a northern Paris or Rome Instead of naturally developing on high ground Petersburg was begun on lowland below sea level – a risky and fateful decision resulting in much danger for its future inhabitants The tsar plotted the city with a ruler in hand as a system of islands canals and broad straight prospects from the Latin pro specto to look into the distance so that it would present a clear geometrical pattern The main prospect the nearly three mile long Nevsky Prospect was built in 1715 To realize all these constantly changing plans tens of thousands of workers from all over the country were herded to the Neva delta It was a motley crew – peasants soldiers convicts captured Swedes and Tartars There was no housing no food no tools for them; they transported excavated dirt in their clothing Drenched by pouring rains attached by swarms of mosuitos the wretches pounded wooden pilings into the swampy ground p12 – Declared the new capital of Russia in 1717 it had over forty thousand residents by 1725 towards the end of Peter’s reign – an eighth of the country’s urban populationchokengtitiktitikchokeng14 – The grim “underground” mythology about Petersburg persisted in spite of the official imperial mythology which was sparkling and optimistic p17 – Under Catherine twenty four miles of the Neva’s banks were “dressed in granite” Pushkin from Finland These severe monumental walls with their numerous stairs leading down to the water became as important a symbol of Petersburg as the stone bridges that spanned the Neva and the city’s canals at the same time p18 – Catherine began assembling the collection was to transform the Hermitage into one of the great art museums of the world At Paris auctions she bought paintings by Raphael Titian Rubens and Rembrandt p28 – In December 1828 nineteen year old Nikolai Gogol came to this disciplined haughty cold city from the bright gentle warm Ukraine As with most young men even those with talent these dreams proved somewhat difficult to realize At this time the population of St Petersburg was rapidly approaching half million p27 – On the stage of the Imperial Alexandrinsky Theatre Vassili Karatygin a six foot giant with a roaring baritone and majestic gestures stunned audiences with his Hamlet Like all authors in Russia Shakespeare was subjected to strict censorship Nicholas personally made sure that no political allusions or even curse words as gentle as “devil take it” were spoken on stage p28 – Gogol began to set his sights in a great Petersburg career including an attempt to join the imperial theatre as an actor A calamity Then he tried to become a painter then a bureaucrat and finally a teacher Gogol thought he was ascending the ladder of success and wealth but he was stuck every time on the bottom rung Petersburg persistently refused to recognize him; and Gogol in turn came to hate Petersburg The city would remain forever alien to him inviting but hostile a world he could never conuer And when Gogol began writing the grotesue and alienated image of Petersburg uickly became the center of his prose Gogol’s first Petersburg novellas appeared in 1835 – Nevsky Prospect Diary of a Madman and Portrait; then came The Nose in 1836 and in 1842 the most famous work The Overcoat Gogol and through him all later imagery of Petersburg was heavily influenced by ET A Hoffmann; even a hundred years later in her Poem Without a Hero Akhmatova curses the “Petersburg devils” and calls them “midnight Hoffmanniana” p30 – Gogol juxtaposed the brilliant balls and posh receptions that were beyond his reach to his own obsessive vision of the capital In revenge he built a monster Petersburg inhabited by caricatures a mirage Petersburg and finally a deserted ghostly Petersburg Balzac wrote about Paris this way and Dickens about London But Gogol’s mystical Petersburg is much the fruit of his fevered imagination far removed from the reality of the city p31 – Gogol was the first 1837 to publish an extended literary comparison of the old and new capitals – Moscow and St Petersburg – starting a long line of such essays right up to Yevgeny Zamyatin’s Moscow Petersburg 1933 In the popular consciousness Moscow symbolized everything national truly Russian and familiar Moscow was a city whose roots went back to religious tradition making it the rightful heir of Constantinople and thus the Third Rome as the Orthodox monks of the sixteenth century taught Peter the Great subordinated the church to the state Petersburg was planned and built as a secular city Moscow’s silhouette was determined by the “forty times forty” churches and their belfries Petersburg’s silhouette is made of dominating spires p37 – Gogol’s Overcoat the uintessential Petersburg parable of a clerk had been published only two years earlier “We all came out of The Overcoat” Dostoyevsky is alleged to have said But the beginning writer borrowing much from Gogol had rejected his cruel irony His hero in Poor Folk is no grotesue marionette but a living suffering thinking man described with warmth and lyric grace He loves and is loved but that love ends tragically for there can be no happiness in a city where there is “wet granite underfoot around you tall buildings black and sooty; fog underfoot fog around your head” p41 – Sent to Siberia to the Omsk Fortress which served as prison for his involvement in the Petrashevsky circle in in 1849 Dostoyevsky spent four years in heavy shackles day and night He didn’t take up a pen for almost ten years p42 – During the reign of Nicholas and under his personal supervision the majestic ensembles of the Palace and Senate Suares the magnificent S Isaac’s Cathedral and other impressive architectural complexes like the famous Teatralnaya and Mikailovskaya Streets were built The majority of these projects were executed by Nicholas’ favorite architect Carlo Rossi born in St Petersburg to an Italian ballerina p43 – Rossi in planning the construction of the Imperial Alexandrinsky Theatre proposed covering the enormous hall with a special system of metal girders – a risky idea for those items Nicholas doubted their strength and ordered construction stopped His vanity stung Rossi wrote the tsar a letter stating that should anything happen to his roof he should be immediately hanged on one of the theatre’s trusses as an example to other architects Such arguments always worked with Nicholas and he allowed the building to be completed Performances continue to this day in the theatre one of the city’s most beautiful Nothing has gone wrong with the roof yet p44 – On February 19 1861 Alexander II emancipated the serfs The historic and far reaching decision to repeal serfdom was taken against the advice of most of Alexander’s entourage Waves of serfs invaded the capital to earn a living In 1858 with a population of almost half a million Petersburg was the fourth largest city in Europe after London Paris and Constantinople In 1862 Petersburg had 532000 residents and in 1869 according to the first major census 667000 Factories and plants were mushrooming outside the city and the capital’s new residents settled there Drinking brawling crime and prostitution flourished in these neighborhoods Taverns and brothels popped up all over the city p46 – Petersburg had two mortal enemies – water and fire – which emptied the city many times The two most memorable floods were in 1777 and 1824 The flood of 1924 later joined their number The fire of 1862 was remembered longest for most of the commercial section – Gostiny Dvor Apraksin Drov Schukin Dvor and Tolkuchy Market – burned to the ground during several weeks of May and June of that year p54 – The cult of Petersburg began with poetic odes The problem of Petersburg was first posed in a narrative poem The dismantling of Petersburg was also performed by literature For over one hundred thirty years literature reigned almost unchallenged there Opera and ballet flourished in imperial Petersburg in the early nineteenth century but they did not have a substantial impact on the Petersburg mythos They were exotic flowers that ornamented the grim reality Nicholas’ Petersburg but did not confront the “damned uestions” the city asked its residents p84 – Both Dostoyevsky and Mussorgsky composer of Boris Godunov opera were fascinated by the mystery of the Russian soul and its inexplicable duality In their works kindness and cruelty wisdom and folly good humor and il can be easily combined in the same person p95 96 – Alexander III greatly increased the subsidy to the imperial theatres The orchestra of the Russian opera grew to 110 members and the choir to 120 The stagings of both ballet and opera were lavishly produced with huge sums specifically allocated for costumes and scenery p96 – Every spring Alexander III personally approved the repertoire for the opera and ballet often making significant changes; he did not miss single dress rehearsal in his theatres The emperor was involved in all the details of new productions – and not just from whim or pleasure; his motivations were also political He knew that the imperial theatres – opera ballet and drama – were the mirror of the monarchy; the brilliance and opulence of their productions reflected the majesty of his reign Therefore he correctly viewed the attacks in the liberal press especially after the repeal in 1882 of the imperial monopoly on theatre productions in Petersburg as veiled attacks on his regime noting once that the newspapers pounded his theatres “because they are forbidden to write about so many other things” Of the Russian composers Tchaikovsky had long been a favorite of Alexander III Knowing that we can understand easily why the emperor was rather hostile toward the music of the Mighty Five a seemingly inconsistent position for a Russian nationalist p100 – Both Stravinsky and particularly Balanchine insisted on calling Tchaikovsky a “Petersburg” composer This was based not only on the facts of his life – Tchaikovsky studied in Petersburg and died there; many of his works were first performed in the capital which he often visited and where he had many friends – but on such personality traits as nobility reserve and sense of moderation and of course the effective use of the “European” forms in his composition so consonant with Petersburg’s European architecture But there are even typically Peterburgian features in Tchaikovsky’s work Music lovers look primarily for emotional agitation in it enjoying what Laroche called its “refined torment” p109 – The production of Prince Igor opera was opulent and extremely realistic The Polovtsian scenes reuired over two hundred people onstage p111 – In Petersburg young Tchaikovsky graduated from law school with the title titular councilor then served for over three years in the Ministry of Justice living the typical life of a young clerk in the capital His studies at the Petersburg conservatory made Tchaikovsky a real musical professional But not only that Introducing him to European principles and forms of organizing musical material the conservatory training also gave the young composer a sense of belonging to world culture p112 – Becoming the bard of St Petersburg was natural and easier for the worldly Tchaikovsky than for any other Russian composer after Glinka Petersburg was a musical melting pot Italian tunes were whistled on Nevsky Prospect and a few steps away one could hear an organ grinder playing a Viennese ländler The emperor liked French operas but there was also a tradition at the court dating back to Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great to invite singers from the Ukraine to Petersburg Tchaikovsky soaked up the capital’s music like a sponge Italian arias from the stage of the imperial theatre French ditties and cancans the solemn marches of military parades and the sensuous waltzes that had conuered aristocratic Petersburg The popular melancholy Petersburg lieder called romansy held a special sway over Tchaikovsky’s imagination p121 – Many did shed tears when The ueen of Spades was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre on December 5 1890 p128 – The Imperial Mariinsky Theatre still the bastion of the aristocracy had recently started to attract new patrons particularly for performances of Tchaikovsky’s operas and ballets especially students and younger professionals Tickets were impossible to obtain and when they tried disturbing then by lottery up to fifteen thousand people a day were among the hopefuls A huge young audience was created for Tchaikovsky’s music p129 – A decidedly conservative ruler Alexander III realized nevertheless the importance of rapid economic and industrial development for Russia and he tried to create the most beneficial conditions for that purpose The changes came in an avalanche In Petersburg giant factories were built and powerful new banks appeared on the scene This frantic economic activity new for Petersburg created numerous nouveaux riches who wanted to be acknowledged as the true masters of the city They wanted to feel like generous patrons of the arts and were prepared to spend substantial sums to support national culture p137 – Both Tchaikovsky’s and Benois’ extraordinary interest in ballet comes as no surprise – after all it was the most imperial of all the arts Nicholas I who perceived a resemblance between the order and symmetry of ballet exercises with that of the military parades he so loved particularly enjoyed ballet And we find echos of the cult of parades and military music in both Tchaikovsky and Benois Tchaikovsky and Benois were also intrigued by ballet’s obsession with dolls and the dancers’ doll like aspect the automatic and predictable movement This was a freuent themes in ETA Hoffmann beloved by both One of Tchaikovsky’s most whimsical creations the Nutcracker ballet plays with a favorite Hoffmanesue idea of the fine line between human and doll between a seemingly free individual and a windup mechanism The idea of an animated doll both attracted and repelled Tchaikovsky It was of course a purely balletic image that was realized brilliantly once again in a joint production of Benois and Stravinsky the ballet Petrouchka p143 – By 1900 almost a mission and a half inhabitants swelled the city and the number continued to increase rapidly in 1917 there would be almost two and a half million; that is the population grew by almost 70 percent in just seventeen years p147 – Petersburg had three operas a famous ballet company a lively operetta and opulent theatres for every taste – from the very respectable imperially subsidized Alexandrinsky which tended to stage serious plays to the frivolous Nevsky Farce known for its topical parodies of famous contemporaries The year 1908 brought forth Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse on the Petersburg stages p149 – Wednesdays and Sundays were ballet days at the Mariinsky In 1908 Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky starred in the productions of the twenty eight year old Michel Fokine In one night could be seen two of Fokine’s most innovative works his one act Egyptian Nights and Chopiniana a plotless wonder that later became famous in the West under the title Les Sylphides The court balletomanes sniffed even ballet that holy of holies was being taken over by the nasty modernists They had to put up with it for Nijinsky and Pavlova were just wonderful air and champagne p199 – Anarchy took over Petrograd but it was just then that the Imperial Alexandrinsky Theatre put on perhaps the most famous production of prerevolutionary Russia – Mikhail Lermontov’s drama Masuerade directed by Meyerhold and designed by Golovin Everything about this production is legendary Its endless rehearsals ongoing for five years under Meyerhold had turned into a theatrical ritual of sorts Golovin had made four thousand drawings of costumes makeup furniture and other props setting a record for the Russian theatre Masuerade cost three hundred thousand gold rubles an amazing sum even for the seemingly bottomless royal treasury p255 – It had been beaten into our heads since childhood that Theatre Street is 220 meters long and the height of the buildings euals the widths of the street – 22 meters In my Leningrad days the conventional wisdom was that walks along Theatre Street renamed by then to Rossi Street cultivated the feeling for refinement and spiritual harmony p285 86 – But the most important reason was the opinion of Bolshevik Number One Vladimir Lenin who considered opera and ballet “a piece of purely big landowning culture” Trying to save the Mariinsky Theatre from the “present attempt to stifle it” Lunacharsky appealed to Lenin with a desperate letter in which with some exaggeration he pressed the case for opera and ballet as a necessary and useful entertainment for the proletarian masses “Literally the entire laboring population of Petrograd treasures the Mariinsky Theatre so much since it has become an almost exclusively working class theatre that its closing will be perceived by the workers as a heavy blow” The pragmatic Lenin was impressed by Lunacharsky’s argument that guarding the empty Mariinsky Theatre would cost almost as much as maintaining the acting troupe As a result the state subsidy for the Mariinsky Theatre which had been cut to a minimum was retained p287 – To the end of his life Balanchine would declaim Chatsky’s final monologue which in Yuriev’s presentation at the Alexandrinsky Theatre had elicited tears from young Georges as he himself admitted in later years I flee without looking back I will seekA place in the world for injured feeling My carriage my carriage Those romantic lines practically foretold Balanchine’s future His emotional reaction to their open melodrama lifts a window into the choreographer’s soul that subseuently was shut forever

  5. Annm Annm says:

    I chose this book as part of the research for a historical novel From the title and description I expected to find a boring history of esoteric cultural concepts Instead I found an incredibly well written history of the lives motive art music poetry and prose of all of modern St Petersburg Petrograd Leningrad and finally back to St Petersburg ai learned so much history and so much about the lives of these people It's worth a read if you have any interest in Russian history world history and how artists of all types live work and deal with adversity

  6. David Bisset David Bisset says:

    A fascinating study of culture in a great city intertwined with history The material about music is memorable Sometimes the detail could be daunting but there is a wealth of anecdote which is of particular interest The Russian passion for poetry is unfortunately not shared in the United Kingdom

  7. Ally Kumari Ally Kumari says:

    A thoroughly researched panopticon of great artistic personages that created the Petersburg mythos and how they did it Very well written and with a personal touch only at times a bit too exhausting with detail

  8. Katti Katti says:

    A perfect introduction to read when you are visiting St Petersburg

  9. Audrey Kadis Audrey Kadis says:

    I'm going to St Petersburg and this book gave me terrific background

  10. Marilee Marilee says:

    Beginning only

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