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Welcome to Music section of our site!
Here you can learn about the main streams of Russian musical culture.

Index of All Articles on Russian Music

Folk Music

Russian Folk Music Instruments

Classical Music in Russia

Russian Opera

Russian Romance, the Art of Sentimental Art Song

Russian Great Singers of the 20th Century

Author's Song

Pop-Music in Russia

Rock Music in Russia

Jazz in Russia

Punk Rock & Alternative Rock in Russia

Country Music in Russia

Celtic Music in Russia

A Glimpse of Hip-Hop Culture in Russia

Russian Sacred Music

Russian Music

Folk music is certainly the oldest of them. The roots of Russian folk music date as far back as to the middle of the first millennium AC, when Slavic tribes settled in the European part of the present territory of Russia. Those tribes were famous for their love and mastery of music, singing and dancing. From generation to generation folk ensembles and singers try and keep up the authentic Russian music traditions alive. Folk song and dance ensembles present old country repertoire with songs often blending pagan roots and Christian symbolism, songs either sad and drawling or merry, as well as dances - dignified and graceful or rollicking and vigorous, accompanied with traditional musical instruments (balalaikas, whistles, guslis, wooden spoons, bayan, etc.) and colourful costumes. These days enjoy the 'new folk wave' bringing together old traditions, modern technologies and experimental music styles. Read more...

Russian Folk Instruments
Ancient chronicles, epics and medieval foreign writers notes bear all evidence that the Slavs were extremely fond of music. Karamzin points out in History of the Russian State: The Northern Venedi (the old name for Slavs) in the 6th century said to the Greek Emperor that the major delight of their living was music and that on the road they usually took not weapons but citharas or gusli invented by them. As time passed by lots of new music instruments came to be used by folk musicians. Nowadays different styles are in fashion yet there is still hope that interest in traditional Russian music will never ever fade. Traditional folk music instruments have come to be used in lots of modern styles and eclectic ways in recent years. Read More...

Classical music

Russian national composer school acquired its individual shape rather late, only by the mid 19th century. However, once getting mature Russian music rushes into the world music arena. West European musicians and critics of the 19th century could not but appreciate most peculiar features of Russian music, such as the use of rich and fresh folk music material of Eurasian type, blending 'eastern' and 'western' elements; and absolutely new forms of symphonic development - synthetic rather than analytical, as was the convention with the West European symphony. The appearance of such figures as Skryabin, Stravinsky and Prokofiev in the early 20th century put Russian music in the avant-garde of the world music process. Read more...

Russian opera is on a par with Italian, German and French operas in terms of their worldwide significance.
This is mainly due to the range of operas created in the second half of the 19th century and certain operas of the 20th century. Among the most popular operas on the world stage of the late 20th - early 21st cc are Boris Godunov by Musorgsky, Pikovaya Dama/Queen of Spades and Eugeny Onegin by Chaikovsky, Knyaz Igor/Prince Igor by Borodin, and Zolotoi Petushok/Golden Cockerel by Rimsky-Korsakov, all dating back to the 19th century. Of the 20th century's operas stand out Ognenny Angel/Fiery Angel by Prokofiev and Lady McBeth of Mzensk district by Shostakovitch. Read more...

Russian Romance
Russian romance means intimate lyrical songs that touch the soul, feelings set to music, and poetry that makes one cry and smile. Romance as music genre is a traditionally Russian type of music creativity: it is in romance that the so-called mysterious Russian soul has found ways of expressing its passions. Just recall the famous "Ochi Chyornie" (Black Eyes)!

Great singers of the 20th century
Sweeping various style definitions aside we would like to introduce you the most prominent singers of the 20th century who belonged to various genres. One thing uniting them is that their charismatic personalities and artistry left an influential trace in the musical history of Russia. Here you can read about life and creative work of Fyodor Shalyapin, Sergey Lemeshev, Claudia Shulzhenko, Isabella Yurieva, Leonid Utesov, Mark Bernes and other legendary singers who deserve live attention of any generation. Read more...

Author's song
Author's song as a genre supposes that a songwriter performs one's songs alone to his/her own guitar accompaniment (or some other instrument, which is rare). Singers to guitar are also called bards. Originated as a free alternative to semi-official mainstream concert music in the Soviet Union, this genre remains non-commercial and in this regard perhaps more independent than any other. Great attention is paid to the meaning of lyrics, aspiring to convey some deep message. Read about the phenomenon of bard song in Russia and about such distinguished authors and performers as Alexander Vertinsky, Boulat Okoudjava, Vladimir Vysotsky and Alexander Bashlachev. The author's song is a chamber genre aimed at a peculiar audience as compared to rock music attracting wide public (especially the youth) due to its versatile sound and eccentricity.

Pop Music
Genres of pop music widely spread in modern Russia and CIS countries started taking shape back in the USSR epoch and were somewhat different from similar styles both of the West and the East. By the early 1960s Russian-language pop music developed into one of the biggest music markets in the world. In the 1990s when the country was undergoing severe economic and political crisis Russia and Moscow in particular still remained to be significant producers of Russian-language music industry. Strange as it may seem lots of famous pop music hits were recorded in that very period. Read more...

Rock music
Rock music came to Russia from the West and for a long time remained underground and rebellious to the stale oppressive atmosphere of the Soviet Establishment.
For a long time having no opportunity to use good professional instruments and up-to-date electronic equipment for recording and sound mixing, Russian rock musicians got accustomed to a peculiar minimalism in music. Guitar and unpretentious percussion 'beat' - that was practically all to comprise the acoustic palette of Russian rock, which from the very beginning tended to attach the first importance to the lyrics and the message conveyed. Rock music became a specific Russian phenomenon mainly due to poet and singer Alexander Bashlachev. A perfectly Russian author he influenced many rock musicians and played an important role for Russian rock to advert to the roots of Russian music folklore and imparted the genuine Russian spirit to it. Read more...

Brief History of Jazz in Russia
Jazz stage emerged in the USSR in the 1920s, just parallel to its flourishing in the USA. The first Russian jazz orchestra was established in Moscow in 1922. Jazz started gaining wide popularity in the 1930s, to a great extent thanks to the Leningrad jazz ensemble headed by famous actor and singer Leonid Utyosov. Soviet authorities displayed quite ambiguous attitude towards jazz: Russian jazzmen, as a rule, were not banned, though jazz as such was severely criticized in the context of overall criticism of Western culture on the whole. Read more...

Punk Rock & Alternative Rock in Russia
Punk music penetrated into the USSR in the early 1980s. From the mid 1980s pank rock bands started to spring up all around the USSR and as time passed by they somehow fell into two categories: central and Siberian ones. Alternative rock originated in Russia in the mid 1990s. Bands playing alternative rock and alternative metal are often referred to with the same definition alternative, without dividing them from each other. Read more...

Country Music in Russia
Even in Soviet Russia American style of country music was growing in popularity. In 1975 a Russian student band named Ornament already performed real country disguised as songs of struggle and protest. Though today palette of Russian country music adherents is not that rich and versatile in comparison with America and Europe, it still has something to offer. Read more...

Celtic Music in Russia
Just like country music, so untypical for Russia, Celtic music is also popular among the Russians. The talking about affinity of mysterious Irish and Russian minds is not casual: they really have much in common. Yet, Russia missed the first wave of interest in Irish music that overwhelmed the world in the 1960s-70s. But then in the early 1990s we fitted very well into the second one and till date have been taking an active part in this global process. Read more...

A Glimpse of Hip-Hop Culture in Russia
Hip hop gained fame, then rather limited, in the second half of the 1980s, when fancy for break dance started in this country. Yet, English-language rap compositions as such were little known among music lovers then. The first Russian language rap performers appeared in the early 1990s, Bogdan Titomir enjoying fame, whereas more underground sorts of Russian hip hop (such as MD&C Pavlov and the like) were far from being a success. The market of Russian hip hop as industry took its shape only in the late 1990s. Read more...

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