Official internet-portal of St. Petersburg, cultural capital of Russia
Petersburg CITY / Guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
Printed from:
Culture news, 02.07.2004 12:06

Grandeur Waltzes into Town

waltz Johann Strauss, the King of Waltzes himself, conducted the concerts, played the violin and composed new music here during 11 summers between 1853 and 1865, which explains the motif of the festival.

It all started with the construction of a railway connecting Pavlovsk with St. Petersburg, when the line running to Tsarskoye Selo built in the mid 1830s was extended. To attract people who were afraid of taking the train, a so-called Music Station was built and public concerts were offered during the summer season. After Strauss, came Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Glazunov and many others. Like many other traditions, it all ended in 1917.

A revival sprang up in 2002. In 2003, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, the Austrian Consulate presented the city with a copy of the famous sculpture of Strauss by Edmund Hellmer (1921) that used to stand in Vienna's Stadtpark. Appropriately enough, this statue is now one of the features of Pavlovsk and an integral part of the Festival's promotional literature.

While the opening and closing concerts will be in Pavlovsk, this year the festival also expands downtown and to other suburban locations. As Festival Artistic Director, Julia Kantor, explained at a news conference: "Our festival geographically follows the places where Johann Strauss performed." The venues now include Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo and the Konstantin Palace in Strelna, as well as the Hermitage Theater.

The Festival concerts naturally feature the music of Strauss, father and son, but there are some surprises, including music never yet performed in Russia, such as the Strauss Romances for Cello and Piano (Monday) and romances (Tuesday) by a Russian society girl, Olga Smirnitskaya, who fell in love with Strauss. Like today's pop bands, Strauss won over hearts wherever he played. Indeed, a part of the Vienna sculpture that seems not to have been brought to Russia depicts ecstatic young women, described on one website as "groupies" of that age.

The festival brings together musicians and singers from the Mariinsky Theater, the State Hermitage Orchestra, the St. Petersburg State Conservatory Orchestra, Andreyev's State Academic Orchestra of Folk Instruments, the conductors Dmitry Khokhlov, Alexei Karabanov and Alexander Vikulov. Also participating for the first time are foreign musicians, among them the Italian maestro Fabio Mastrangelo and Austrian conductor and world-renowned specialist on Strauss, Christian Pollak, who will give two concerts. In the closing concert of the festival on July 12, Mariinsky soloist Anna Netrebko will give a recital.

One spin-off of the festival has been a project to restore the original Pavlovsk Music Station, which was several hundred meters from today's elektrichka station. Director of the Pavlovsk Park- Museum Nikolay Tretyakov has talked about constructing a small railway along which a reduced scale train will run. Two or three cars will take the public straight to the future Music Station.

The Festival runs from July 2-12. Tickets for all venues are on sale in the theater box offices around the city.

News source:

(c) 2000