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Culture news
Russia.s first conservatory marks 150th birthday
09.20.2012 14:07

Russia.s first conservatory marks 150th birthday

The St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, the cradle of the Russian music culture, is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
It all began on a fairly modest scale with ordinary music classes under the Russian Imperial Music Society. Later the classes were transformed into a school. Finally, Emperor Alexander II decreed that the school be renamed conservatory. But perhaps it’s not the Emperor but the outstanding pianist, composer, conductor, music professor and the conservatory’s first director Anton Rubinstein, whom Russian musicians have to thank more for it. The St. Petersburg Conservatory was his brainchild that spawned a whole galaxy of brilliant musicians, composers, opera singers and conductors, among them Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry Shostakovich, Yuri Temirkanov, Valery Gergiev and Yelena Obraztsova, to name but a few. Obraztsova, whose velvet mezzo soprano made her international famous, has retained fond reminiscences of her alma mater.
"Those were the best years in my life – and the most satiated ones too. I studied a lot. Other girls would go out dancing or romancing. Not me. They used to call me a nun. And a nun I was indeed for nothing except music and singing interested me."
From the very start, the St. Petersburg Conservatory set a high plank for students and faculty. Modeled after European analogues, it had a predominantly foreign teaching staff. But the atmosphere that reigned there – the spirit of communication between “masters” and “apprentices” – was typically Russian. No strict attendance was required. The class schedule was fairly flexible to fit in with the students’ needs. They were not obliged to attend any fixed number of classes and were free to shape their own studies. There were also lots of off-class events, concerts and home parties attended by both students and professors. And those traditions are still alive, Miroslav Kultyshev, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, told the Voice of Russia.
"A class is perceived as a family. There is a different attitude towards teaching than in the one in the West. The self-consciousness of the Russian music professor seems to be entirely different: teaching in the Conservatory is regarded as a highly significant moral and ethical duty."
The jubilee events will begin with the September 19 UNESCO-sponsored gala and continue throughout this season, ranging from concerts by conservatory graduates and best students to “A Fairytale Dream in a Forest” – a joint production of the St. Petersburg and Milan Conservatories – to the historical exhibition titled “The Russian Imperial Family and the Russian Musical Society”, which will travel to Nice shortly. Two international forums – “The International Week of Conservatories” and a congress of the European Association of Conservatories – will be held in St. Petersburg in the coming weeks. At least 300 conservatory rectors from all over the world are expected to arrive to congratulate Russia’s oldest music academy on its 150th birthday

News source: Voice of Russia
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