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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

5 - Russian culture: 1801–1917

from Part II - Culture, Ideas, Identities

Summary

To gain a sense of the achievements of Russian culture during this period, it is instructive to compare the comments made on the subject by Petr Chaadaev in a 'Philosophical Letter'. The fate of Chaadaev's 'Philosophical Letter', meanwhile, exemplifies the cultural atmosphere under Nicholas I as a whole. During Alexander II's reign Russian culture flourished. Alexander III reacted to the violent circumstances of his father's death by introducing repressive measures which actually attempted to undo some of the 1860s reforms, and by increasing censorship. Tchaikovsky also made a serious contribution to the renewal of Russian church music. The main symphony concert series, which had been inaugurated by the Russian Musical Society in 1859, had become increasingly reliant on the classical repertoire by the 1880s and was beginning to lack freshness. Two new ventures which were to have a lasting impact on Russian cultural life were launched in 1898, one in Moscow and the other in St Petersburg.

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