Music of the era of Peter the Great performed at the Presidential Library in St. Petersburg


On 16th February, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library hosted the first concert of the educational project “Music of the Russian statehood” – “Peter I and Musical Russia”.

According to Director General of the Presidential Library Alexander Vershinin, the idea of ​​creating the project was born within these premises – the library was always accompanied by music since its opening. And this is not accidental: one of the main directions of the institution’s work is the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage, including the musical heritage.

The music of Russia and Western Europe was presented by world-famous bands and performers. The program of the evening includes performances by the Admiralty Orchestra of the Leningrad Naval Base, the Danilov Monastery’s Festival Choir, the Barocco Concertato Early Music Ensemble and the rhythmic show of drummers. In particular, the famous chant “The Heavenly King”, the composition “On the foundation of the city of St. Petersburg” and other musical rarities were performed.

“A long-term partnership with the Presidential Library produces great results”, – said Maria Safaryants, head of the International Festival of Classical Music “Palaces of St. Petersburg”. – There was created a project supported by a grant from the President of Russia thanks to it. The noble task is set – to restore through music the connection of time, we expect to reveal in our cycle the uniqueness of the musical epochs from Peter the Great to Nicholas II. “All the events of the cycle will be held in a building on Senatskaya Square, 3, their video recordings will enrich the electronic fund of the Presidential Library. 

“Music of the Russian statehood” is a cycle of ten multimedia concerts where the role of a host belongs to the Russian historian, writer, creator of the project “Russia is My History”, the skilful mediator between the world of musical history and the audience – Alexander Myasnikov. He said that the formation of Russian statehood was inseparable from the history of the development of music. Already in the era of the Rurikovich, on the battlefields, pipes and drums were sounded (at that time they were called nakry), and at the princes’ courts, at feasts and on rural holidays – horns, pipes, spoons, gusli.

The musical world was intensively modernized and developed during the Romanov era. The Choir of the Sovereign Singers, the future Choral Choir of St. Petersburg, has become a regular participant in all secular and state events. What we call concert life in the old days was centered around the performances of church and monastery choirs. 

During the concert, everyone at that evening at the Presidential Library learned about Peter I’s tremendous influence on the development of musical culture, heard works that he once performed as a soloist and as a drummer.

On weekdays and solemn days, all campaigns of Peter Alekseevich were accompanied by “Songs of His Majesty” – henceforth so called in the documents of the former sovereign song singers. The Tsar himself often took part in the speeches. Peter the Great accompanied the choir on the banks of the Neva, when the first stones of St. Petersburg were laid. So the tradition of musical accompaniment of all great beginnings was born.

It was during the time of Peter that the first orchestras appeared – the military. As a child, the future emperor was the drummer of the 1st company of the “funny” Preobrazhensky regiment. Former amusing, and then Guards regiments – Semenovsky, Izmailovsky, Preobrazhensky and others move to the new capital. Military marches and secular works were heard in St. Petersburg. One of the first Russian marches, written in the era of Peter, was the march of the Preobrazhensky regiment.

The decree of Peter “On the dignity of the guest, at the assemblies” made a radical change in the cultural leisure of the urban population. In it, in particular, there were also such points: “Without singing, there is no fun in Russia, but they begin by the sign of the master. Do not enter the rage, listen to the neighbor – (after all) roaring alone, you are like an ass of Valaam. Musicality and sweetness, on the contrary, you will gain many praises from guests”.

In his closing speech, co-host of the concert, managing director of the fund “Palaces of St. Petersburg” Viktor Khaprov thanked the Presidential Library for using the most interesting materials from its foundation in preparing the visual accompaniment of the concert.

The organizers of the concert cycle are the Foundation of the International Festival of Classical Music “Palaces of St. Petersburg” and the Presidential Library. The project “Music of the Russian statehood” was carried out using the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society provided by the Presidential Grant Foundation. 

©  Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library. 23 February 2018