He is the man of the Universe. Russia should be proud of the fact that it gave such a
genius to the world.
Evgeny Svetlanov - the "Legendary Maestro", as the musical
critics used to call him - was one of the greatest Russian musicians of the 20th century.
His unique talent made him one of the most eminent figures not only in Russian national
culture, but in the world culture as well.
A world famous conductor, Svetlanov was also a brilliant pianist and an interesting
composer. Critics said about him that he was more than a performer of someone else's
music, sometimes it looked as if he actually partook in the work of the great masters he
played… He knew how to energize the audience and, working them up to ecstasy, sent
people on their feet.
Music filled his life since his early days. Both his parents worked at the Bolshoi
Theater; young Evgeny grew up right in the Bolshoi; he was present at the rehearsals and
shows, sang in the choire; since the age of five he used to take part in crowd scenes on
the stage of the most famous Russian theater.
Svetlanov made his conducting debut in Bolshoi Theater in 1955. He was invited to Bolshoi
as an assist tant conductor; later, in 1962, he became the principal conductor. His
repertoire at the theater included 25 operas and ballets (12 of them were directed by
Svetlanov). A great Russian singer Irina Archipova, speaking about Svetlanov's conducting
in three operas by Rimsky-Korsakov, told that his performance "was fantastic. The
orchestra sounded really great!"
In 1965, he became the artistic director and chief conductor for the USSR State Symphony
Orchestra. Under his directorship it turned into one of the best orchestras in the world.
Svetlanov's orchestra was unique. Not only because of the beautiful sound and perfect
ensemble that allowed to recognize the orchestra from the first bars… Each
interpretation was a masterpiece, with every detail thought out and felt through and all
elements of the musical form harmoniously balanced. "Nothing is casual. There should
be a balance between the emotional and intellectual side, improvisation within the limits
of the plan", Evgeny Svetlanov wrote in his article "Commentary on the
The melodiousness of his musical thinking was amazing; all the groups, all the instruments
of the orchestra "sang", the whole texture of every work was permeated with
But perhaps the main thing about this great musican was the magnetism of the ingenious
artist, whose personality could lead the orchestra and the audience, making them follow
his ideas willingly and gratefully.
"Svetlanov's passionate temperament, enormous power and heroic will, ardent artistry
were striking; it is doubtful whether such outstanding features will appear in our music
soon", Janna Dozortzeva wrote about Maestro.
Evgeny Svetlanov gave several thousands concerts - in the most prestigious concert halls
of the world and in small cities of Russia, sometimes even in the railway depots -
everywhere his audiences were enthusiastic. His repertoire was enormous. He recorded all
symphonies by Brahms, Mahler, all symphonic works by Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Schumann,
Dvorak, Grieg, Saint-Saens, Elgar, Bloch. In the sixties he recorded all Tchaikovsky's
symphonies, starting an anthology of Russian classics no one had ever done before… 27
symphonies by Miaskovsky, all symphonies by Rachmaninov, works by Schostakovich,
Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Sviridov, Kabalevsky, Eshpay, Shaporin, Karaev... "I want to
perform every single piece of music, well known and forgotten, ever written by a Russian
classic," Evgeny Svetlanov said once.
More than two thousand compositions, about 600 hours of music! Evgeny Svetlanov devoted
all his life to make happen what eventually became a monument to his selfless service to
In 2001, Evgeny Svetlanov Foundation was organized. Its purpose is to
preserve the traditions and spirit of the heritage left by Maestro.
Petrushka is one of the most popular ballets by Stravinsky and probably
one of the most popular twentieth century compositions.
Stravinsky started the work on his new ballet during the autumn of 1910. His first
intention was to compose a Concertschtuck for piano and orchestra; later, this project
turned into a ballet. Libretto was written jointly by Stravinsky himself and Alexander
Petrushka was staged by Mikhail Fokin. The premiere took place on June 13th, 1911, in
Chattles Theatre in Paris.
The ballet possessed some authentic folk scenes, intonations and rhythms of Russian urban
music culture, a fundamental psychological drama. The choreography was outstanding. It was
a defining production of Sergei Dyagilev's Le Seasons Russes for several years.
Though the project of The rite of spring appeared earlier than that of
Petrushka, it was not produced until two years later - in 1913. The music of this ballet
is perhaps one of the most significant discoveries of the twentieth century, a
Libretto was written by Stravinsky, Nikolai and Sviatoslav Reorich. Vaslev Nizhinsky was
The premiere took place on May 29th, 1913. During the first performance, the audience
could not chef-d'oeuvre; his innovations, his dissonant complex style provoked a scandal
that escalated into a riot. In the intermission, the police arrived, but they could not
restore the order until the end of the performance.
Nowadays, The Rite of Spring is often heard in concert; the ballet is set by many
Ballet-burlesque in four scenes. Libretto by Alexander Benois and Igor Stravinsky.
A "Butter Week" carnival in St. Petersburg. A crowd of soldiers and officers,
merchants, workmen, servants, gypsies, organ grinders and street dancers fill the street.
There are several booths on the scene; one of them is owned by an old Charlatan; he steps
through the curtains of his booth and shows his three puppets, sprawled on armatures:
Ballerina, Moor, and Petrushka. Charlatan plays his flute, and the puppets begin to dance.
They go out in the street and dance with the people gathered around the booth. Petrushka
is jealous of Ballerina, while she is in love with the Moor. Petrushka beats the Moor with
The curtains of the booth fall. A drum-roll is heard.
In Petrushka’s room. The room, dark and unattractive, reminds a prison cell. Charlatan
kicks Petrushka inside. Petrushka falls on the floor and cries; he is desperate: Charlatan
is very cruel to him, and Ballerina ignores his love. Suddenly Ballerina herself appears.
A silly, coquettish puppet, she is the most beautiful creature in the world for poor
Petrushka, and he is overwhelmed with joy. But Ballerina doesn't understand his feelings,
his tricks do not impress her, and she leaves. Abandoned and miserable, he pounds the
In the Moor's room, the walls are decorated with exotic plants. He sprawls on the sofa,
juggling a coconut. He tries to crack it with his scimitar, but fails; so he thinks it's a
god and worships it. The Ballerina enters, blowing her tin trumpet. Irritated at first by
her appearance, the Moor changes his mind, seduced by her coquetry. Just when he is about
to hold her, Petrushka bursts in with a shriek. The Moor chucks him out. Carried away by
the Moor's strength and courage, Ballerina falls in his arms.
Later in the evening, we see the crowd in a street fair again: nursemaids, a man with a
dancing bear, masked revelers, a drunken merchant accompanied by two young gypsy girls,
coachmen. Suddenly, noise is heard from the Charlatan's booth. Petrushka appears, followed
by the Moor, who strikes him down with his scimitar. Petrushka is dead. When police
arrive, Charlatan explains that Petrushka was nothing more than just a doll; he shows his
sawdust stuffing. The crowd disperses. Suddenly, above the booth, Petrushka’s spirit
appears, cursing the cruelty of his offenders.
The Rite of Spring
(Le Sacre du Printemps)
Pictures of pagan Russia. Libretto by Igor Stravinsky, Nikolai and Sviatoslav Roerich
Act One. The Kiss of the Earth.
The scene represents a wild landscape; members of a pagan Slavic tribe, young men and
women, congregate near a sacred rock. They play springtime ritual games and perform a
series of dances to celebrate the return of spring. The young men play a game of abduction
of the women, each one takes away his chosen one. Later they come to a war-like game of
two villages, performed by two groups of men. The Old Wise Men enter the stage; an elderly
sage falls on the ground and consecrates the earth with a kiss.
Act Two. The Great Sacrifice.
The night falls. The maidens of the tribe begin a mystical circle dance. Their purpose is
to chose the one who will be sacrificed. The sacrifice is necessary to save the earth and
awaken it from its long winter's sleep. When the girl is chosen, the others dance around
her, glorifying her. The tribe appeals to the ancestors, and they surround the girl as she
dances herself to death in order to save the earth.