The City of Music

St.Petersburg is well-known as a city of drawing bridges, white nights and amazing architecture. Moreover, it is also a city where the first Russian conservatory opened and the revival of Russian music began. The members of “The Mighty Five” club were enthusiastic composers, who introduced folk and church tunes into classical music. One of its outstanding members, Rimsky-Korsakov, was a famous composer and a creator of musical fairy-tale “Sadko”. It is named after the main folk character Sadko, a poor musician, who grew rich because of his talented play in the fabled underwater world. In the last Rimsky-Korsakov’s flat at 28, Zagorodny Av. a memorial museum was opened. The museum is especially valuable for its original interiors. During the composer’s time, musical evenings, the so-called “Korsakov Wednesdays”, were held there. The tradition of “Korsakov Wednesdays” remains alive until today.

Another eminent figure on St.Petersburg music scene was an unsurpassed opera and chamber singer Feodor Chaliapin. He performed on the stage of Mariinsky theatre, becoming its art director in 1918. His last apartment in St.Petersburg is located in Aptekarsky island, at 2b, Graftio street. This is where the last years in homeland of the great singer were spent. The major part of property and things, including the collection of arms - a present from Maxim Gorky - was saved by a life of Isay Dvoritschin, Chaliapin's devoted secretary. In the beginning of WWII all inmates except Dvoritschin were evacueed - but he chose to stay, and eventually died of starvation in winter of 1942. Thanks to him, we can now observe Chaliapin’s apartment as if we were his guests. Here they are – his hat and coat on the hall-stand. He is out, but he will be back soon.

We can listen to a part of Chaliapin’s performance inside the former Imperial theatres’ Directory in Ostrovsky Square, which is now known as Museum of Music and Theatre. Going up the staircase, which displays famous names of the former theatre directors, you become immersed in a mysterious world of miracle-plays where the border between true and imaginary gets blurred. One of the halls is devoted to the Shakespeare’s Globe. You can admire its extraordinary form, costumes, properties. The screen shows Hamlet, performed so many times by different actors… In the next hall there are models of medieval theatres. The exposition displays Petersburg theatrical life in the XIXth century with a snowy city and little scale figures of men. Here you can watch some pieces of performances and listen to amazing voices of the actors. And this is but a small part of the treasures housed at the Museum of Theatre and Music .

Another branch of this museum is situated in a former mansion of nobility - the Sheremetev Palace. The Sheremetevs were known as one of the oldest and honorable families in the imperial Russia. Here, in the Palace you can get a taste of musical life in the XVIII – XX century Petersburg. The museum collection numbers more than 3 thousand musical instruments. Admittedly, it is the best one in Russia by right. You will see all the main groups of musical instruments, many of which belonged to famous musicians, composers and members of the Romanov imperial family, including the Russian horn orchestra and copies of ancient instruments. The museum is also known as a regular venue for various musical concerts.