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 Vasily Andreyev

Born:   14 January 1861
Deceased:   26 December 1918

musician, composer, and balalaika virtuoso.


Vasily Vasilievich Andreyev was born in 1861 in the town of Bezhetsk of Tver Region. In 1883 he engaged in perfecting Russian folk music instruments and organized in Saint Petersburg an orchestra of string instruments (such as domras of four sizes, balalaikas of size sizes, and the gusli), wind instruments (zhaleyka – a sort of a shepherd’s pipe), and percussion (nakry – a kind of kettledrums of big clay pots with leather strung on them, the buben).

The majority of these instruments, such as the domra, the balalaika, the nakry are, as their names show, are not of Russian, but of Eastern, Asian (Turkish and Tatar) origin, and in addition to that, not so ancient – thus, for example, the balalaika dates back only to the 18th or late 17th century.

The concerts of this orchestra, which had a peculiar, and yet rather a monotonous colouring, in 1888 brought about in Russian community a wide-spread ardour for the above mentioned instruments (especially the balalaika) thanks to the comparative ease of playing them. They turned to be in great demand, the fact leading to intensified production of them by music instrument masters, which was moreover supported by introducing of teaching them in the troops. Notes and schools came to be published on a wide scale; usually these were arrangements of folk songs, and rarely original compositions such as waltzes and similar works.

A virtuoso master in playing the balalaika, Andreyev also showed himself as a composer for his instrument and his orchestra. From time to time he toured with his orchestra in Russia and Europe enjoying a great success, and was also in charge of arranging teaching these instruments in the guard troops.

Tags: Russian musicians Russian composers    

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