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The articles in this issue address and illustrate elements that are essential for furthering the current understanding of Russia's embeddedness in the international musical culture of the long nineteenth century: the exchange of musicians and repertoires; the social and political conditions in which these exchanges took place; the range of mediators, from aristocratic patrons to musical professionals; the methods of movement; and the ways in which Russia was imagined and experienced by foreigners.
This article investigates the role played by aristocrats in the exchange of repertoire and musical personnel between Russia and Western Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It discusses the involvement of three significant figures in the political and cultural milieus of the Russian Empire: Count Nikolay Petrovich Sheremetev (1751–1809), Prince Nikolay Borisovich Yusupov (1750–1831) and the Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich Romanov (who ruled as Paul I from 1796 to 1801). The central focus is on Sheremetev, whose correspondence with Marie-François Hivart, a Parisian cellist he met during a grand tour, allows us to reconstruct a clear picture of how French opera was imported and adapted at his estate theatres in the Moscow area. Yusupov and the grand duke likewise established international musical contacts during their European tours of the 1770s and 80s, and exploited them in their private and public theatrical activities in Russia. Yusupov, who was particularly fond of Italian opera, may be regarded as Sheremetev's counterpart in St Petersburg, while Tsarevich Pavel Petrovich channelled the musical contacts he established in Italy to the Russian court and crown theatres.
Together, these cases suggest some of the ways in which Russia was entangled in European musical life around 1800, revealing mechanisms of exchange in which grand tours, diplomatic contacts and the personal interests of patrons played a significant part.
This article examines the creation and early dissemination of John Field's nocturnes, tracing this œuvre through initial publications in St Petersburg by Dalmas (1812; H24–25) to the posthumous collected editions by Schuberth and Liszt first released in the 1850s. Inspired by discourse on music and environment, I take the peculiar qualities of Russian night landscapes as a key factor in understanding how these works were composed and then marketed internationally. Although little documentation remains of Field's Russian experiences as described in his own voice, it is possible to reconstruct the place in which he worked through his musical publications, related contemporary descriptions, images and recollections of friends and admirers. These sources shed fresh light on his shift in musical style on relocation from England to Russia. Viewing Field's nocturnes through the lens of this landscape, both real and as imagined by later promoters such as Liszt, offers the opportunity to reach a newly nuanced understanding of Field's array of national identities – Irish, English and Russian – and of his nocturne as a Russia-based idiom.
This article studies the interactions of travelling musicians with the Russian court and aristocracy from the 1830s to the 1870s. Drawing on a broad corpus of memoirs, travel reports and personal documents of musicians who visited St Petersburg and Moscow in the course of their careers, it discusses the courtly dimensions of the Italian Opera; the role of the aristocracy and court in the organization of concert life under Nicholas I (r. 1825–1855); the relevant changes and continuities under Alexander II (r. 1855–1881), when concert life would undergo rapid professionalization; and finally, the symbolic dimensions of the rewards offered by the Russian elites.
The persistent significance of imperial and noble recognition in this period, it is argued, added considerably to Russia's appeal for foreign musicians. Many visitors developed a positive, reciprocal relation with the Russian regime and its elites, even if the values, hierarchies and traditions of the autocratic regime could be at odds with the social status and sense of independence of successful performers. In musical discourse, reports of musicians’ visits circulated an image of Russia – an urban image of luxury, refinement and high society – that contrasted with the stereotype of wild and barbarous expanses that have so far attracted most attention in music historiography; and their descriptions of the imperial court and family tended to match the image – of imposing authority and benevolence – the Romanov monarchy sought to project.
In the build-up to the French premiere of Tchaikovsky's Yevgeny Onegin in Nice in 1895, critics, speakers and writers on music were declaring the opera a masterpiece of psychological realism. Such a reading seems to resonate more with recent assessments of the opera; but in 1890s France, a combination of interest in the Russian realist novel and new trends in realist opera had led critics to make the literary link already. With the Franco-Russian Alliance recently finalized and hostility towards the Triplice mounting, many even suggested that the opera might form the lyric equivalent of the Russian realist novel and, in so doing, offer a morally and politically superior alternative to the so-called verismo operas of the new Italian school.
The optimism surrounding Onegin, I'd like to show, was part of a broader move in late nineteenth-century France to celebrate cosmopolitanism, if not in the sense one might expect. Tchaikovsky and Onegin were very much deemed representatively Russian. What was cosmopolitan, and in turn modern, was the act of cultural transfer – exploiting international personal networks – and the opera's realism: its evocations of ordinary life and of the contemporary psychological condition. As such, a Russian opera like this could be applauded not for its revelations of an exotic or disconnected country, but for the potential it posed to integrate with and revitalize French culture.
By the turn of the nineteenth century composers such as Daniel Steibelt and Muzio Clementi were writing keyboard pieces with tambourine (and, occasionally, triangle) parts that were clearly intended for private salon performances by girls and young women. These works were introduced to public and private European salons during the early nineteenth century. Steibelt performed such pieces, typically waltzes, bacchanals, rondos and divertissements whilst on tour with his English wife Catherine, daughter of the London-based music publisher and patent tambourine manufacturer Joseph Dale. She became a renowned tambourine virtuoso, even attracting the attention of the Bohemian musician and writer Václav Jan Tomášek, who described the great sensation caused by Catherine's performances.
I analyse different types of works that were written for the tambourine around the year 1800. Examples of short waltzes (which were usually published in sets of 6 or 12) are plentiful – they were by far the most common pieces written for piano and tambourine – and in them the historical link between the tambourine and dance is most obvious. I argue that these waltzes may have served as a bridging point between dance-like, energetic, social activities and passive, recreational drawing-room music. Further support for this idea can be found in a Grand Sonata for pianoforte, tambourine, flute, violin and basso by Joseph Dale. The tambourine part contains numerous choreographic instructions as well as a wide variety of playing techniques such as thumb rolls, bass notes and harmonics, the likes of which did not become common practice in the orchestral or chamber repertory until the twentieth century. Dale's intention was clearly to provide an opportunity for women musicians to express themselves in ways that were contrary to contemporary expectations of female social etiquette.
This article studies two late works by Schumann: the Lied ‘Meine Rose’, Op. 90 No. 2 (1850), and the Fantasiestück, Op. 73 No. 1, for clarinet and piano (1849). It analyses the works in the light of nineteenth-century developments in approaches to the treatment of tonality. Both ‘Meine Rose’ and the Fantasiestück are miniatures and can thus be linked with music-making in private salons. The choice of the two works is based on musical as well as aesthetic factors. Musically, they both avoid confirming their main tonic in a firm manner, a feature that the article links with aesthetics of the time. Most importantly, the music's inability to secure a firm tonal centre can be associated with early nineteenth-century aesthetics of longing: in the same way that unsuccessful attempts to secure the tonic underlie the two Schumann works, so contemporaneous aesthetics saw human existence as being governed by unfulfilled longing. The paper argues that in ‘Meine Rose’ the Romantic ideology can be connected to transcendental qualities associated with nature, while the Fantasiestück can be associated more generally with infinity and longing. In both works, it is precisely Schumann's special treatment of the tonic, drastically departing from Classical conventions, that justifies connecting the works with these aesthetic issues.
When Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) became a ‘regular’ at the Parisian salon of opera legend Pauline Viardot in 1871, he encountered businessmen and politicians in addition to aristocrats and socialites, plus artists and authors as well as amateur musicians and professional peers. Encouraged by Madame Viardot and inspired by her ‘artistic salon’, Fauré produced sophisticated works with stylistic duality: music that appealed to and satisfied both intuitive and analytic listeners.
This essay examines three of Fauré's compositions that feature stylistic duality, each dedicated to a member of the Viardot family. These include two early mélodies, ‘Chanson du pêcheur (Lamento)’ (1872) and ‘Au bord de l'eau’ (1875), plus the Romance pour violon (1877). It demonstrates that these pieces, which sought to engage a diverse audience and involve each member in an individualized and interactive aesthetic experience, reveal considerable sophistication below their immediately attractive surfaces. This article also avers that abandonment of misconceptions and prejudices is essential to full appreciation of Gabriel Fauré's refined and innovative art.