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A Trip to Homeland of Lemeshev on His Birthday

Knyazevo, 1929, Sergey Lemeshev having restWhen we are here, in the village of Knyazevo, inhaling the purest ringing air, it seems we can hear his enchanting voice, - writes Victor Vasiliev, the creator of the museum of Sergey Lemeshev in his book dedicated to the great Russian lyrical tenor. We decided to experience it ourselves and went on a journey to the singers homeland, Knyazevo village, where the museum of Lemeshev is located.

The museum of the Great Russian Lyrical Tenor Sergey Lemeshev is one of the remote nooks of Russia, not so easy to get to: a few buses run from Tver to the village only at week-ends. But that was Monday. So our pilgrimage turned sort of an exploration: we plunged into the unknown. We reached Tver by a suburban train, and took a bus to the Mednoye settlement, which is on the way to Knyzevo. Only 22 km distance was left when we found ourselves on the almost deserted road to Knyzevo village, boundless fields of wheat on both sides and the scorching sun above. Singing some songs from Lemeshevs repertoire we enjoyed the freedom of the vast expanses of bucolic Russia. Finally our hitch-hiking was a success: a beautiful smiling old man driving his small grandchildren to bathe in the river stopped to take us half way closer to our destination. Entrance to the territory of Lemeshev museum in Knyazevo, the ChapelThe rest of the road through a reserved forest we covered together with foresters who were checking the area and found out that some sign-boards forbidding hunting, bonfires, etc. disappeared; probably it was the trick of some poachers, they guessed

So after all we got to the native place of Sergey Lemeshev on Monday, 10 of July, on his birthday, that was to add some symbolical meaning to our trip. But the museum was closed. It turned out that Monday and Tuesday are days off. The cozy well-groomed territory of the museum was absolutely quiet and empty; only a small affectionate dog met us, and a stone sculptured head of Sergey Lemeshev. We were a bit confused, as on-line resources had read nothing about the museums rest-days. There was a tint of disappointment as we missed the annual Lemeshev festival celebrated here on Sunday; we saw an empty stage on which singers and admirers of the great Russian singer had performed the day before. The river Tma, Knyazevo villageAnyway we did not feel pity about our coming here: we could feel some intangible presence in this serene place inspiring with the beauty of nature.

The first thing to please the eye here is the snow-white Chapel of the Smolensk Icon of Holy Mother located side by side with the museum and restored in 1992, for the 100th jubilee of the singer.

The wooden building of the museum is constructed on the basement of a parish school in which Lemeshev studied from 1911 to 1914; the stone monument to Sergey Lemeshev in front of the building is facing picturesque scenery of meadows, hills, the river Tma, and birch groves. We also discovered a sorrowful sight in some meters from the museum: a wooden lodge burnt a few days before.

Monument to Lemeshev and the museum

On leaving Knyzevo through the village of Strenevo we saw another memorial house which Lemeshev rented for summer vacations from 1947 to 1967.

Nature in that area is fabulous; and you can really feel the way it inspired the great singer. The admirers of his talent who come here must be adding to the pure and powerful energy of the place.

In a year they will gather here again to celebrate the 105th jubilee of Sergey Lemeshev. Opera arias and folk songs will be wafted around over the splendid blossoming meadows of the Knyazevo village. Well try not to miss this holiday. It promises to be a grand holiday, with the presentation of a 6-volume collection about Lemeshev. Now music lovers can find new CDs including some records never released before; they are made with love and care and are quite affordable. The remastered records sound very fresh and quite necessary today. Sergey Lemeshev is not just a bygone fashion. He has left us his voice Russia can be proud of for a long time. Great thanks to all who keeps up the memory of Sergey Lemeshev.

Vera Ivanova

July 13, 2006

July 19, 2006 15:44

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