(No class Feb 22 or Mar 15)

Where: Rincon Congregational Church

Cost: $185.00 for 8 session(s)

Type: In Person


Instructor: Alexander Tentser studied piano performance at the celebrated Gnessin Music Institute in Moscow.
Alexander Tentser

The narrative of Russian music unfolds through the history from the reign of Empress Katherine the Great and her relationship with the leading Italian composers of that time and from the creation of the first music school in Russia – Saint Petersburg Court Chapel, to the 20th century cataclysms that affected not only Russia, but the entire world – October revolution of 1917 led by Vladimir Lenin and subsequent usurpation of total state control by Josef Stalin.

Weeks 1 and 2: The 19th Century and the Blossoming of Nationalism in Music
Mikhail Glinka created the first Russian national opera and the Mighty Five, a group of composers led by Mily Balakirev developed unique personal music language resulting in such popular pieces as “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov and Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky.

Week 3: Peter Tchaikovsky, His Orchestral Masterpieces and the Politics of Change
Tchaikovsky’s approach to composition absorbed the best achievements of the German and French symphonies, but clashed with the much more nationalistic tendency led by Mily Balakirev. At the same time brothers Nicholas and Anton Rubinstein created the first Russian conservatories in Saint-Petersburg and Moscow.

Weeks 4 and 5: Rachmaninoff and Scriabin
Young Sergei Rachmaninoff was seen as the heir of the great Russian Romantic tradition after the death of Tchaikovsky. Alexander Scriabin created mystical and innovative piano and orchestral works on the verge of atonality.

Week 6: Change and Reflection
The political clouds gathered and finally the Russian monarchy and the ancient traditional order was overturned in October of 1917 creating chaos and sharply dividing the Russian society. Rachmaninoff left Russia and became one of the greatest pianists of all time, but his last compositions expressed sharp pain and nostalgic longing for the world that was forever lost.

Weeks 7 and 8: Regime Change: From Creative Freedom to Total State Control of the Arts
After relative creative freedom allowed by Lenin’s Bolshevist Proletarian government, Stalin assumed total state control over the arts. Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the highly original Symphony #1 and sympathized with the social changes in the beginning of 1920s. Sergei Prokofiev traveled abroad establishing himself as a great piano virtuoso and prominent composer. Lured by the Soviet propaganda, he made the fateful decision to return to Russia in 1934, right before the Stalinist’s purges began.

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Register for Russian Music: Composers, Czars and Commissars

Online registration has been closed for this class. Please call (520) 777-5817 for information.