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Showing posts from August, 2013

Gagarin, World's First Spaceman (1961) - Film about Hero's Welcome

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This Soviet-made newsreel records cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-68), the first man to journey into outer space, as he returns to a hero's welcome in Moscow on 12 April 1961. Following a motorcade through the city, he is personally praised by the then Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev during a mass rally in Red Square.

This film is part of the ETV collection. Amassed over half a century, it specialises in documentary footage of all aspects of life, society and history in both the UK and the former socialist world, with materials sourced from the Soviet Union, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Korea, Africa and the Arab Nations, as well as the British Labour Movement and the Communist Party of Great Britain. For further information please visit http://www.bfi.org.uk/nationalarchive/access/commercial/afs/etv/index.html

Vatslav Nizhinsky - Biography and Nijinsky in L'après-midi d'un faune, 1912

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Nizhinsky entered the St. Petersburg Theatre School at the age of 11 and already at 18 he was given leading parts at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. But it was his collaboration with the prominent impresario Sergey Diagilev that brought him international fame.

In 1909 Diagilev organised the first season of the Ballets Russes (Russian Ballets) in Paris. The performances were enormously successful with the European public, which came to know not only Nizhinsky but a whole constellation of names such as Ida Rubinshtein, Anna Pavlova and Mikhail Fokin.

The latter was the chief choreographer of the Ballets Russes from 1909 to 1912. He aimed to reform the ‘sugary, soulless’ ballet existing at that time. For him it was essential to show conflicting characters on stage and for this he needed to contrast male and female roles.

Nizhinsky proved to be ideal ‘clay’ for Fokin. The dancer, who received perfect training at the Theatre School, was able to fulfil all of his ideas. Nizhinsky starred in ma…

Sophia Parnok - Biography

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Sophia Yakovlevna Parnok; sometimes the first name is spelled Sofia or Sofya - Russian poetess and translator, close friend of Marina Tsvetaeva and Faina Ranevskaya. She entered into the history of world literature as "Russian Sappho".

Sophia Parnok was born in the city of Taganrog on August 11, 1885 in a pharmacist's family. She studied at the Empress Maria Taganrog Girls Gymnasium in 1894 - 1903, traveled through Europe, studied at the Geneva Conservatory, but lack of financial means made her return to Taganrog in 1904. She entered Saint Petersburg Conservatory in late 1904, but abandoned the studies and left again for Geneva, where she had her first experience as a playwright with the play The Dream. In June 1906, she returned to Taganrog. In 1907, she married Vladimir Volkenstein and moved to Saint Petersburg. In January 1909, Parnok divorced with her husband and settled in Moscow.

At the beginning of World War I, she met the young poet Marina Tsvetaeva, with whom s…

Mikhail Zoshchenko: Honest Citizen

In line with official policy, I am informing you that apartment Number 10 is suspicious in the sense of moonshine which, probably, citizen Guseva cooks up, and what's more, she fleeces all the workers for it. And when, for example, you don't have any money or you're just one kopeck short, they don't trust you with any credit and, what's more, not taking into account the fact that you're a free citizen, they give you a kick in the backside.

I'm also informing you, as I'm an honest citizen, that apartment Number 3 is also no doubt suspicious for moonshine, where, for taste, they throw in I don't know what, mushrooms or maybe fruit rinds, which makes you puke your guts out way more than usual. And, of course, they don't trust you with any credit either. For crying out loud!

And the harmful citizen herself makes the consumer wait in the kitchen and doesn't let you into the premises where they brew up the stuff. And there's this dog in the kitc…

Leonid Andreyev: Satan’s Diary

January 18. On board the Atlantic.
This is exactly the tenth day since I have become human and am leading this earthly life. My loneliness is very great. I am not in need of friends, but I must speak of Myself and I have no one to speak to. Thoughts alone are not sufficient, and they will not become quite clear, precise and exact until I express them in words. It is necessary to arrange them in a row, like soldiers or telephone poles, to lay them out like a railway track, to throw across bridges and viaducts, to construct barrows and enclosures, to indicate stations in certain places—and only then will everything become clear. This laborious engineering work, I think, they call logic and consistency, and is essential to those who desire to be wise. It is not essential to all others. They may wander about as they please. The work is slow, difficult and repulsive for one 2who is accustomed to—I do not know what to call it—to embracing all in one breath and expressing all in a single breath.…

Gavrila Derzhavin: Fragments from "Daily notes" , 1785.

...The settlements, except for several Russian villages, are mainly populated by Loppians and I think it is necessary to describe their way of live and special features.

Loppians do not build as Russian nearby, but are building along water shores and one household might be about a couple of miles from the other. Living quarters, hey-lofts and sheds are all made on the first floor; the ground floor is used for stables and cattle-yard...

Many of the Loppians are trading with St-Petersburg with wild game, butter, caviar and fish. Those living near the border are trading with the nearby Swedish towns - Oulu, Torneo and Kajaani. There is a customs post in the Jushkozero village and its boors shows that in the last, 1784 year, the export was for 6 793 rubles2 95½ kopeks, that, by the due tariffs gave 324 rubles of the customs fee.

...From the Swedish Lapland ... in the last year were imported goods on 6 895 rubles 14 kopeks and the customs paid was 188 rubles 25 kopeks...

...Tillage is not in a…

Boris Asafyev - Biography

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Russian musicologist and composer (b. 17/29 July 1884 in Saint Petersburg; d. 27 January 1949 in Moscow), born Boris Vladimirovich Asafyev (Борис Владимирович Асафьев), also known by his literary pseudonym Igor Glebov (Игорь Глебов).
The son of a humble official, Boris had a rather dreary childhood, marred by poverty. His mother, a peasant's daughter, had to take on sewing jobs in order to make ends meet. However, when Boris's love of music manifested itself very early on (aged 5 or 6, he was already improvising on the family's piano), his father began taking him to concerts in Saint Petersburg. As a child he often spent the summer months near Pavlovsk, where his grandfather was a night-watchman at the palace, and Boris would regularly walk the four kilometres from their hut to the Pavlovsk railway station to attend the free concerts there. Thanks to these he had the chance to hear a wide repertoire of music, but his first love was Tchaikovsky, as he later recalled: "I…

A Writer Invites Russia to Engage Its Painful Past - Elena Chizhova

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NOT long ago, Yelena S. Chizhova was engaged in what has become a standard winter pastime for Russia’s middle class: taking the sun at a giant resort hotel in Egypt. She and a girlfriend, who also grew up in St. Petersburg, joined the river of people flowing into the warehouse-size dining hall, its tables heaped with steaming meat and pastries. And then something passed over them like a shadow. The women felt so uneasy that they had to step away for a moment, and Ms. Chizhova asked her friend what she was thinking about. But she did not need to ask. What the two women had in common was relatives who starved in the 872-day siege of Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was then known, when army engineers set off explosives in the fields and shoveled corpses into the craters. For a moment, Ms. Chizhova had the strange feeling that she was seeing the piles of food through the eyes of her dying relatives. Born in 1958, she learned the official version of the siege from Soviet textbooks, which cast i…

Shostakovich Against Stalin - Documentary

Boris Pilnyak: Tales of the Wilderness

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THE SNOW
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The tinkling of postillion-bells broke the stillness of the crisp winter night—a coachman driving from the station perhaps. They rang out near the farm, were heard descending into a hollow; then, as the horses commenced to trot, they jingled briskly into the country, their echoes at last dying away beyond the common.

Polunin and his guest, Arkhipov, were playing chess in his study. Vera Lvovna was minding the infant; she talked with Alena for a while; then went into the drawing-room, and rummaged among the books there.

Polunin's study was large, candles burnt on the desk, books were scattered about here and there; an antique firearm dimly shone above a wide, leather-covered sofa. The silent, moonlit night peered in through the blindless windows, through one of which was passed a wire. The telegraph-post stood close beside it, and its wires hummed ceaselessly in the room somewhere in a corner of the ceiling—a monotonous, barely audible sound, like a snow-storm.

The two …

Vladimir Sorokin. A Post-Modern Russian Writer

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Vladimir Sorokin, sometimes r

Блокада - The Siege of Leningrad

This is a film about the siege of Leningrad during World War II. Without words, without music - just the sounds and pictures of a dying city.

Director: Sergei Loznitsa

Nikolai Myaskovsky - Biography

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Nikolai Myaskovsky was born in the military frontier town of Novo Georgiyevsk (present day Lomze) in the Warsaw governorate of the Polish territories of the Tsarist empire on April 20, 1881. He was the second son of Yakov Konstantinovich Myaskovsky and Vera Nikolayevna.

Both parents had military backgrounds, and Nikolai’s father, Yakov was the military engineer in charge of building forts on the frontier with Prussia. The first seven years of Nikolai’s life were spent in a small military cottage in Novo Georgiyevsk where his two sisters also were born, Vera (1885) and Valentina (1887). Nikolai’s grandfather Konstantine Ivanovich had been a tutor at the military Cadet College of Orel, where Yakov had studied, and had also worked as a noted military engineer building fortresses for the Russian Empire. His maternal grandfather, Nikolai Petrakov, had been a supervisor at the military gymnasium in Nizhni Novgorod.

From his memoirs, Nikolai liked playing with his older brother, Sergei (b. 187…