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Russian Days 2017

Music and Revolution

Saturday 29th April 2017: Music and Revolution

Speaker: Dr Rosamund Bartlett

11:00 - 17:00

Before the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and the Bolshevik coup in 1917, Stravinsky revolutionised music with The Rite of Spring, catapulting Russia into the front ranks of the European avant-garde. At the time of the Revolution, he was already in exile, and would remain there, while many other musical luminaries deserted Russia in 1917 or soon after, including Rachmaninov, Chaliapin, and the enfant terrible Prokofiev. Despite the vicissitudes of life under the conditions of War Communism, however, musical life in the fledgling Soviet state remained intense and exciting, fuelled by utopian hopes for a bright new future.

This day of talks will explore the momentous changes which took place in the Russian musical world between the 1917 Revolution and the end of the Civil War in 1921. As well as looking at the lives of leading composers and musicians during this period, and the works that were performed, we will examine the new institutions established in Moscow and Petrograd after musical life was nationalised. Here a key role was played by the composer Arthur Lourié, working under Anatoly Lunacharsky, head of the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment (Narkompros). We will also discuss the role played by the radical organisation Proletkult ('Proletarian Culture'), which promoted both compositions for orchestras of folk instruments, and ground-breaking electronic instruments. Revolutionary musical figures to be discussed include Lev Avraamov, composer of the 'Symphony of Sirens', Lev Termen, inventor of the theremin, Mikhail Matyushin, pioneer of quarter-tone music, and Nikolai Roslavets, whose new system of 'sound organisation’ rejected ‘classical’ tonality.

Followed by a short performance on the Theremin-Vox by Lydia Kavina.

Tickets: £60 (including buffet lunch and afternoon tea). Overnight accommodation with dinner is also available; please enquire.

Book now!

Listen to a Russian Day

Russia Against the Rest Video
Russia against the Rest with Richard Sakwa, 14/1/17

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'It was extremely refreshing to listen to a different perspective.' - K. Bond

No prior knowledge needed. Talks open to all.

"It's a remarkable venture, flying an important multi-coloured flag."
Stephen Walsh (Stravinsky biographer)

"Excellent food for both mind and body, and I was a happy boy."
Robert Fripp (musician)

Friend of The Great Britain-Russia Society


Day rate: £60, including refreshments and buffet lunch

Accommodation & Evening Meals
For those coming from farther afield, accommodation is available for one or two nights. All rooms are beautifully decorated, comfortably furnished and have their own bathroom. Overnight guests also have use of the pool, grounds and living rooms. Rooms cost £60/£85 for Single/Double occupancy on the Friday (breakfast only) or £75/£115 for Single/Double occupancy on the Saturday (dinner and breakfast included). Please see the Please see the Booking Form for details and the Gallery for images of the house and rooms.

To book, please use our Booking Form or call 07793 240 867 for more information.

Stonehill House is a comfortable and spacious family home with extensive grounds, in rural Oxfordshire. Within easy reach of Didcot Parkway and Oxford stations, Stonehill can accommodate up to 12 people in a variety of uniquely decorated, mostly double, bedrooms.

The house and grounds are home to an interesting collection of artworks by Andrew Logan, several with a Russian influence.

Our speakers:

Rosamund Bartlett is an authority on the cultural history of Russia. Her books include the edited volumes Victory Over the Sun: The World's First Futurist Opera and Shostakovich in Context, as well as biographies of Chekhov and Tolstoy. She has translated Chekhov's short stories, and the new edition of Anna Karenina for Oxford World's Classics. In addition to her scholarly work, she has contributed articles on art, music and literature for publications such as the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the international art magazine Apollo and the programmes of the Royal Opera House. She has also lectured widely, including for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the V&A, the British Library and the BBC.

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Christopher Danziger is a tutor in the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education. He teaches and writes on modern European history with a special interest in Napoleon and Imperial Russia. With a Russian grandmother and a father who was born a subject of Tsar Nicholas II, Russian history is in his blood. He has lectured on Russian history on several Oxford University programmes, at the University of Cape Town, at the Marlborough College Summer School, and Gilman College in Baltimore.

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Irina Kirillova MBE is Fellow Emerita of Newnham College, Cambridge and a retired lecturer in Russian Studies. Her publications include "Reflections on the Image of Christ in Dostoevsky’s writing (Moscow 2010)", "Dostoevsky’s markings in the Gospel of St John" (in Dostoevsky and the Christian Tradition C.U.P.2001) and various articles in Russian academic publications on Dostoevsky. Since 1991 she has lectured extensively in Russia on Dostoevsky, most recently in the ancient city of Riazan, at the theological seminary and to a large audience on the Riazan public library.

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Sir Tony Brenton Sir Tony Brenton is a distinguished British diplomat and author of "Historically Inevitable" about the Russian Revolution and its context. In over thirty years with the British Foreign Service, he served in the Middle East, the European Union, Washington DC, and Russia. In particular he was in charge of the British Embassy in Washington through the Iraq War, and was British Ambassador to Russia through a particularly tense time in UK/Russia relations. On retirement from the Foreign Service he has become a Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge, where he is writing a book on Russian history. He is now also a regular commentator and contributor on international affairs on the BBC and in such publications as The Times and Standpoint.

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