THE ORIGINS, POPULAR FORMS AND SACRED MUSIC
The first musical manifestations of the ancient East Slavic populations, mainly devoted to agriculture, consisted of simple songs of limited melodic extension, inspired by social life and the changing of the seasons. Starting from the century. X, documents of historical value prove the birth of the byliny epos, which lasted until the middle of the century. XVI, having as its center first Kijev (XI-XII century), then Novgorod (XII-XIV century). Popular song, epic-narrative, monodic or polyphonic, the bylina gradually disappeared, also due to the opposition of the Church, concomitantly with the formation of the Russian state (XIV-XV century), giving way to real popular songs, more rooted in political events and social aspirations, the development of which autonomous would have continued in the following centuries until today. Popular instrumental music, closely linked to singing, used various instruments: the gusla, the gudok, the domra and then the balalaika (stringed); fifes, trumpets, flutes, the žalejka and the volinka (wind); the ložki and other percussion instruments. Together with the popular forms, sacred music (whose presence can be historically dated from 988, the year of the Russian conversion to Christianity) greatly contributed to the formation of a national musical heritage. After a period parallel to the epos of the byliny, with unaccompanied monophonic chants (znamennyj), melodically limited and solemn in character, based on the Byzantine theory of oktoechos, in the century. XVII, in which the European notation on stave was introduced, a great work of revision and classification of all liturgical music was carried out: this led, among other things, to the compilation of the Stoglavyj sobor, codex including a selection of the melodies in use under the reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-84), and the introduction of the stročnoe song, for two or three voices. In the seventeenth century, despite the official opposition, due to the direct influence of the Ukrainian singers and their composer N. Diletsky (1630-1681), sacred music was enriched with forms linked to the Western tradition, a phenomenon that led, in the second half of the century, al kant (which recalls the gymel English), also common to the profane genre, with three voices, with a major or minor tonal flavor, while the polyphonically complex “spiritual concert” had already spread (up to twenty-four voices), which featured prominent composers in V. Titov and, in the eighteenth century, in MS Berezovskij (1745-1777) and DS Bortnjanskij (1751-1825). In the sec. XVIII, growing interest in culture, the nobles, following the example of Peter the Great and Catherine II, felt the need to surround themselves with distinguished men in the field of art and science, drawing largely on Western civilization. In the second half of the century, famous musicians, especially Italians, with their stays in the main Russian centers contributed to the birth of a national cultured music: among them the operas F. Araja, B. Galuppi, T. Traetta, G. Paisiello, G. Sarti (director of the imperial chapel), D. Cimarosa (director of the Italian Opera in St. Petersburg), C. Cavos (director of the Imperial Theater and author of the first operas of Russian topic in Russian language). Under their influence, Russian composers had already established themselves at the end of the century: in the theater, EI Fomin (1761-1800), M. Matinskij (1750-ca.1820), VA Paškevič (ca.1742-ca.1800); in the vocal genre, Ju. Kozlovsky; in the instrumental one, I. Chandoškin. In the following century the assimilation of Western music extended and the vocal romance was established with SN Titov (1770-1825), NA Titov (1800-1875), AE Varlamov (1801-1848), AF Lvov (1799-1870), author of the national anthem God Save the Tsar (1833).
FROM THE NINETEENTH CENTURY TO STRAVINSKY
But the nineteenth century was above all the century in which cultured Russian music took on its own physiognomy (albeit in a more or less profound tribute to Western currents). According to Topb2bwebsites, initiators of the national school were AS Dargomyžskij (1813-1869), with the original and daring “musical dramas” And, and MI Glinka (1804-1857), creator of the national work with And, in which he originally recovered Russian folklore. Their legacy was collected by the Group of Five, consisting of MA Balakirev (1837-1910), CA Kjui (1835-1918), AP Borodin (1833-1887), NA Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) and MP Musorgsky (1839-1881), who was largely inspired, especially in opera, by popular heritage. Balakirev, a fervent admirer of Glinka, managed to create a very personal style, which also kept contemporary Western experiences in mind, characterized by an extraordinary variety and timbre effectiveness. Kjui, lucid advocate of the ideals of the national school in theoretical writings, mediated these issues in his compositions with the influence of German Romanticism. Borodin was very original, both in the formal conception and in the harmonic and timbral one, and an author with a particularly happy melodic vein, inspired now by the orientalism of Russian folk songs, now by Schumann and Liszt (and the symphonic sketch In the steppes of Central Asia). Rimsky-Korsakov was a very skilled instrumentalist, particularly sensitive to orchestral mixes and to the enhancement of rhythm (, The legend of the invisible city of Kitež, The golden rooster, the overture to The Great Russian Easter, Spanish Capriccio). The meaning of Musorgsky’s work (,,,) goes far beyond that of the other members of the group for the search for a new vocality modeled on the inflections of the spoken language, for the wild harmonies and the unusual, very original rhythms. Other composers, such as AG Rubinstein (1829-1894), instead clearly referred to German Romanticism or looked for valid forms of expression in eclecticism: among these, PI Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), AS Arenskij (1861-1906), AK Glazunov (1865-1936), AN Skrjabin (1872-1915), SV Rachmaninov (1873-1943), whose language is based on Western aesthetics, from Romanticism to French Impressionism, to German Late Romanticism. The greatest Russian composer of the twentieth century, IF Stravinsky (1882-1971), is placed in a clearly Western tradition, despite his apprenticeship with Rimsky-Korsakov and the folkloristic loans (largely overestimated by critics) that characterize the first period of his activity., whose biographical story took place completely, starting from 1915, between Europe and the United States, after having already achieved international fame with the fantasy for orchestra Fireworks (1907-1908) and music for ballet (1910) and reaffirmed the success with and the masterpiece (1913). For later developments in Russian music, see Soviet Union.