"It is in the
boundless devotion to music that I find the purpose of my life"
The name of Victor Fedotov, an outstanding Russian conductor, one of the most
eminent figures in the Russian culture, is well known among the music-lovers all
over the world. The People's Artist of Russia, Professor Victor Fedotov is a
brilliant representative of the St-Petersburg school.
Victor Fedotov was educated at St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire,
where he studied under Professor Ilya Musin. He graduated from the Orchestra
Department in 1956 and the Department of Opera and Symphony Conducting in 1963.
As a student, he already served as a conductor at the Conservatoire Opera
Studio, performing The Mermaide by Dargomyzh-sky, Evgeny Onegin and Queen of
Spades by Tchaikovsky and many others.
Since 1953 Victor Fedotov worked in the Mariinsky Orchestra as a member-artist.
In 1963 he made his debut there as a conductor with Carmen by Bizet. He
performed it by heart, without the scores; since then, maestro Fedotov kept the
tradition of conducting by heart during all his career.
All his artistic life was bound with the Mariinsky Theatre. An excellently
educated musician, possessing phenomenal memory and marvellous capacity for
work, he soon became one of the leading conductors of the Mariinsky Theatre. In
1964 together with Konstantin Sergeyev he took part in staging of the new
version of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella. Later he worked with Natalia
Kasatkina, Vladimir Vasiliev, Oleg Vinog-radov and other prominent
During his work at the theatre the conductor's repertoire totalled over 60
classical operas and ballets. He performed all ballets by Tchaikovsky and
Prokofiev, ballets by Glazunov, Minkus, Asafiev, Glier, Shosta-kovich,
Khachaturian, Petrov, other composers. His opera repertoire included works by
Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Bizet, Wagner, Verdi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shebalin,
Since 1964 he started touring abroad. His first tour was with the Mariinsky
Theatre to the USA and Canada. Later on, he toured as a guest conductor and
musical director of new performances in major opera houses of the world. Since
1966, he regularly worked in the Royal Covent Garden Theatre in London. In 1967,
he staged Evgeny Onegin by Tchaikovsky in Germany with the Dresden Staads
Orchestra and famous singers Vladimir Atlantov, Boris Shtokolov and Irina
Bogacheva as soloists.
He performed in the Metropolitan-Opera, Grand Opera, Royal Theatre in Sweden,
New State National Theatre in To-kyo and many others.
Victor Fedotov appeared also as a symphonic conductor. Since 1965 he played with
the world-famous Leningrad Philhar-mony Orchestra (Evgeny Mravinsky's
orchestra), Royal Orchestra of Covent Garden in London, London Symphony Or-chestra,
London Philharmony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Vienna Theatre, Liceo of
Barcelona, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Japa-nese NHK, Tokyo Philharmony Orchestra and
many others. Every year he participated in the important music festival Music
Spring in Lenigrad and did a lot to revive an imperial theatre tradition of
symphony nights in Mariinsky. In 1973, a symphony concert commemorating Sergei
Rachmaninov's centenary was held on the initiative of Victor Fedotov and under
He made lots of recordings for CDs, radio and TV in Russia and abroad.
His interpretations were highly apprais-ed by the press. "For the connoisseur of
Tchaikovsky the opportunity to hear how the score of the Sleeping Beauty was
read by Victor Fedotov represents pleasure both extremely rare and really
fascinating", a Daily Telepraph critic wrote. "The Orchestra under Victor
Fedotov with his precise and broad gesture, has transferred with a rare
transparency all the charm of music by Rimsky-Korsakov", the Powery-ecko
newspaper observed in 1974. Sundy Telegraph wrote that "…a great skill of the
conductor Victor Fedotov in possession of the orchestra and his amazing
consolation with the musicians… became a practical lesson, how to conduct…"
Maestro Fedotov prepared and staged quite a number of contemporary performances,
many of them were world premieres. The composers he worked with paid a high
tribute to his professionalism, his enthusiasm in work. Andrei Petrov, a famous
composer, wrote about Victor Fedotov: "I had an opportunity to value many
remarkable qualities of this conductor… he always works very enthusiastically…
besides, he has a gift of "seeing" the music, not only hearing it; even during
the proof rehearsals, it sounds for him very theatrically and expressively".
Andrei Petrov's ballet Creation of the World, one of the most popular Russian
ballets in the end of the century, was staged under the directorship of Maestro
Fedotov in 1971.
Victor Fedotov was a professor of St. Petersburg Conservatoire, gave master
classes in Russia and abroad. Many of his pupils work successfully at musical
theatres and symphony orchestras all over the world.
Victor Fedotov worked for Lenfilm Film Studio. With his participation, music for
dozens of films of various cinema genres was recorded. In 1993 the film director
Oleg Yeryshev made a film dedicated to Victor Fedotov and his children -
talented musicians Polina and Maxim Fedotovs ("I live within Music, it is by
Music that I live" - the Fedotovs").
He was awarded the highest in Russia honorary title for artists: People's Artist
of Russian Federation. Since 1996, he was a member of the Petrovskaya (Peter)
Aca-demy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998, he got the Evening Standard award for
outstanding achievements in classical music performing.
Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is perhaps the most famous among all Russian ballets.
For more than 100 years it does not leave the stage. It became a symbol of the
Russian classical ballet, one of its highest achievements.
It was composed in 1875-76 by a comission of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre and
first performed on February 20th, 1877 without much success. The choreographer,
Julien Reisinger, couldn't estimate Tchaikovsky's ingenious music, and his
attitude was quite mediocre.
The real success came to "The Swan Lake" in 1895, two years after Tchaikovsky's
death. The ballet was staged in the Mariin-sky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The
choreographers were Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (who staged the "swan scenes").
The ballet's history is rather intricate one. It was to undergo many changes,
and lots of different versions were made until it became the popular "Swan Lake"
which is known today. In 1950, a great dancer and choreographer Konstantin
Sergeyev staged a new version in Mariinsky Theatre that be-came famous all over
Victor Fedotov conducted the performances of "The Swan Lake" with many
outstanding dancers, among them - Alla Sizo-va, Natalia Makarova, Yuri Solovjov,
Anas-tasia Volochkova, Rudolf Nuriev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Uliana Lopatkina and
many others. He also directed the performance of the first of early versions of
the ballet at the Zemper Opera in Dresden (in this version, the story has a
tragic end: the waters of the lake rise and swallow Prince Siegfried and
Victor Fedotov was the art director of "The Swan Lake" in Covent Garden in
Lon-don, in the Royal Opera in Sweden, in the New Theatre in Tokyo where this
ballet is especially popular. He took part in numerous TV recordings of "The
Swan Lake" (one of them was made by Phillips) and a film (1968).
In a park by a castle Prince Siegfried celebrates his birthday with his friends.
A messenger announces the arrival of his mother, the Dowager Princess. She plans
to arrange his marriage and reminds that he should find his fiancee tomorrow,
during a ball which will be held in his honor.
Siegfried sees a flock of swans in the sky. He leaves the park and goes to the
A lake in the forest. The swans glide over the surface of the lake; then they go
out of the water and turn into beautiful girls. Their leader, Odette, tells
Siegfried about the curse cast on her by the magician, Rotbart: they are swans
by day and girls by night. Only true love and marriage can save her; but if her
lover betrays her, she would die.
Rotbart appears in a guise of an owl. Odette and Siegfried declare their love
for each other; the new day dawns. The girls turn into swans again.
At the castle, a magnificent ball is being prepared. Beautiful girls invited to
the ball one by one pass before the Prince, but he remains indifferent - he is
in love with Odette. Unexpectedly, Rotbart arrives, disguised as a noble knight,
with his daughter Odile. Siegried is embarrassed: she looks just like Odette.
She tempts him, and, misled by her appearance, him asks her to marry him.
Rotbart is jubilant: Siegfried betrayed his love to Odette! Siegfried sees a
white swan in the castle window; horrified by the mistake he had made, he rushes
desperately to the lake.
On the lake, the swans wait for their queen; Odette comes in a state of despair,
telling them about Siegfried and his betrayal. The Prince himself appears,
begging her to forgive him. Rotbart comes into the scene; a terrible storm
begins. A fight between Rotbart and Siegfried ends with the Prince's victory.
The wicked spell is broken; Odette and her companions are free.