Postcard from Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg – or Petrograd or Leningrad – has been the cultural centre of Russia since the early 18th century, when it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great. The architecture of this "Venice of the North" embraces a distinctly European influence. Home to the Hermitage Museum and the Mariinsky Theatre, the city has attracted great writers, artists and composers.Read more…
Catherine the Great fostered the arts in Saint Petersburg during the Russian Enlightenment. Composers such as Cimarosa and Raupach were commissioned to write operas for her court. Catherine herself even appears – in a mute role – in Act 2 of Tchaikovsky's opera 'The Queen of Spades'! Lisa, the opera's heroine, throws herself into the Neva. Mikhail Glinka, the grandfather of Russian music, lived in the city. His most famous opera, 'Ruslan and Lyudmila', was premiered in the city's Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre. His most famous songs were published in a collection entitled 'A Farewell to St Petersburg'.
This playlist celebrates some of the composers born in Saint Petersburg – Borodin, Glazunov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Ustvolskaya – but also features recordings conducted by Petersburgers, such as Evgeny Mravinsky, Mark Ermler and Vasily Petrenko, or played by the city's famed Mariinsky Orchestra. We hear operas and ballets premiered in the city, such as 'The Queen of Spades', 'Prince Igor', 'La Bayadère', 'The Sleeping Beauty' and 'Spartacus', along with the original – shorter – version of the overture to Verdi's 'La forza del destino', which received its first performance in 1862. The city itself featured large in the works of Dmitri Shostakovich, most famously in his “Leningrad” Symphony, depicting a city under crippling siege. His Eleventh ("The Year 1905") and Twelfth ("The Year 1917") Symphonies are almost film soundtracks to the city’s history and the Russian Revolution.
[Due to geo-blocking restrictions, some tracks might be unavailable in certain territories.]