Russian culture grew from that of the East Slavs, with their pagan beliefs and specific way of life in the wooded areas of Eastern Europe. Early Russian culture was much influenced by neighbouring Finno-Ugric tribes and by nomadic, mainly Kipchak and Iranic peoples of the Pontic steppe. In the late 1st millennium AD the Varangians (supposedly Scandinavian Vikings), also took part in the forming of Russian identity and Kievan Rus’ state. Kievan Rus’ had accepted Orthodox Christianity from the Eastern Roman Empire in 988, and this largely defined the Russian culture of the next millennium as the synthesis of Slavic and Byzantine cultures. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in the world and claimed succession to the Byzantine legacy in the form of the Third Rome idea. At different points in its history, the country was also strongly influenced by the culture of Western Europe. Since Peter the Great’s reforms for two centuries Russian culture largely developed in the general context of European culture rather than pursuing its own unique ways. The situation changed in the 20th century, when the Communist ideology became a major factor in the culture of the Soviet Union, where Russia, or Russian SFSR, was the largest and leading part.
Nowadays, Russian cultural heritage is ranked seventh in the Nation Brands Index, based on interviews of some 20,000 people mainly from Western countries and the Far East. Due to the relatively late involvement of Russia in modern globalization and international tourism, many aspects of Russian culture, like Russian jokes and Russian art, remain largely unknown to foreigners.
Russia’s 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages.According to the 2002 census, 142.6 million people speak Russian, followed by Tatar with 5.3 million and Ukrainian with 1.8 million speakers.Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to Russian. Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic languageRussian belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the living members of the East Slavic languages; the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn). Written examples of Old East Slavic (Old Russian) are attested from the 10th century onwards
Over a quarter of the world’s scientific literature is published in Russian. Russian is also applied as a means of coding and storage of universal knowledge—60–70% of all world information is published in the English and Russian languagesThe language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Russia’s 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages.According to the 2002 census, 142.6 million people speak Russian, followed by Tatar with 5.3 million and Ukrainian with 1.8 million speakers. Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to RussianDespite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic language.Russian belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the living members of the East Slavic languages; the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn). Written examples of Old East Slavic (Old Russian) are attested from the 10th century onwards
Over a quarter of the world’s scientific literature is published in Russian. Russian is also applied as a means of coding and storage of universal knowledge—60–70% of all world information is published in the English and Russian languagesThe language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
New Russian folklore takes its roots in the pagan beliefs of ancient Slavs which is nowadays still represented in the Russian fairy tales. Epic Russian bylinas are also an important part of Slavic mythology. The oldest bylinas of Kievan cycle were actually recorded mostly in the Russian North, especially in Karelia, where most of the Finnish national epic Kalevala was recorded as well.
Buyan by Ivan Bilibin
Many Russian fairy tales and bylinas were adapted for animation films, or for feature movies by famous directors like Aleksandr Ptushko (Ilya Muromets, Sadko) and Aleksandr Rou (Morozko, Vasilisa the Beautiful). Some Russian poets, including Pyotr Yershov and Leonid Filatov, created a number of well-known poetical interpretations of classical Russian fairy tales, and in some cases, like that of Alexander Pushkin, also created fully original fairy tale poems that became very popular.
Folklorists today consider the 1920s the Soviet Union’s golden age of folklore. The struggling new government, which had to focus its efforts on establishing a new administrative system and building up the nation’s backwards economy, could not be bothered with attempting to control literature, so studies of folklore thrived. There were two primary trends of folklore study during the decade: the formalist and Finnish schools. Formalism focused on the artistic form of ancient byliny and faerie tales, specifically their use of distinctive structures and poetic devicesThe Finnish school was concerned with connections amongst related legends of various Eastern European regions. Finnish scholars collected comparable tales from multiple locales and analyzed their similarities and differences, hoping to trace these epic stories’ migration paths
Once Joseph Stalin came to power and put his First Five Year Plan into motion in 1928, the Soviet government began to criticize and censor folklore studies. Stalin and the Soviet regime repressed folklore, believing that it supported the old tsarist system and a capitalist economy. They saw it as a reminder of the backward Russian society that the Bolsheviks were working to surpass To keep folklore studies in check and prevent “inappropriate” ideas from spreading amongst the masses, the government created the RAPP – the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. The RAPP specifically focused on censoring fairy tales and children’s literature, believing that fantasies and “bourgeois nonsense” harmed the development of upstanding Soviet citizens. Fairy tales were removed from bookshelves and children were encouraged to read books focusing on nature and science. RAPP eventually increased its levels of censorship and became the Union of Soviet Writers in 1932.
In order to continue researching and analyzing folklore, intellectuals needed to justify its worth to the Communist regime. Otherwise, collections of folklore, along with all other literature deemed useless for the purposes of Stalin’s Five Year Plan, would be an unacceptable realm of study. In 1934, Maksim Gorky gave a speech to the Union of Soviet Writers arguing that folklore could, in fact, be consciously used to promote Communist values. Apart from expounding on the artistic value of folklore, he stressed that traditional legends and fairy tales showed ideal, community-oriented characters, which exemplified the model Soviet citizen. Folklore, with many of its conflicts based on the struggles of a labor-oriented lifestyle, was relevant to Communism as it could not have existed without the direct contribution of the working classes Also, Gorky explained that folklore characters expressed high levels of optimism, and therefore could encourage readers to maintain a positive mindset, especially as their lives changed with the further development of Communism.
Iurii Sokolov, the head of the folklore section of the Union of Soviet Writers also promoted the study of folklore by arguing that folklore had originally been the oral tradition of the working people, and consequently could be used to motivate and inspire collective projects amongst the present-day proletariat. Characters throughout traditional Russian folktales often found themselves on a journey of self-discovery, a process that led them to value themselves not as individuals, but rather as a necessary part of a common whole. The attitudes of such legendary characters paralleled the mindset that the Soviet government wished to instill in its citizens. He also pointed out the existence of many tales that showed members of the working class outsmarting their cruel masters, again working to prove folklore’s value to Soviet ideology and the nation’s society at large. Convinced by Gorky and Sokolov’s arguments, the Soviet government and the Union of Soviet Writers began collecting and evaluating folklore from across the country. The Union handpicked and recorded particular stories that, in their eyes, sufficiently promoted the collectivist spirit and showed the Soviet regime’s benefits and progress. It then proceeded to redistribute copies of approved stories throughout the population. Meanwhile, local folklore centers arose in all major cities.Responsible for advocating a sense of Soviet nationalism, these organizations ensured that the media published appropriate versions of Russian folktales in a systematic fashion
Sadko in the Underwater Tsardom by Ilya Repin
Apart from circulating government-approved fairy tales and byliny that already existed, during Stalin’s rule authors parroting appropriate Soviet ideologies wrote Communist folktales and introduced them to the population. These contemporary folktales combined the structures and motifs of the old byliny with contemporary life in the Soviet Union. Called noviny, these new tales were considered the renaissance of the Russian epic. Folklorists were called upon to teach modern folksingers the conventional style and structure of the traditional byliny. They also explained to the performers the appropriate types of Communist ideology that should be represented in the new stories and songs As the performers of the day were often poorly educated, they needed to obtain a thorough understanding of Marxist ideology before they could be expected to impart folktales to the public in a manner that suited the Soviet government. Besides undergoing extensive education, many folk performers traveled throughout the nation in order to gain insight into the lives of the working class, and thus communicate their stories more effectivelyDue to their crucial role in spreading Communist ideals throughout the Soviet Union, eventually some of these performers became highly valued members of Soviet society. A number of them, despite their illiteracy, were even elected as members of the Union of Soviet Writers
These new Soviet fairy tales and folk songs primarily focused on the contrasts between a miserable life in old tsarist Russia and an improved one under Stalin’s leadership.Their characters represented identities for which Soviet citizens should strive, exemplifying the traits of the “New Soviet Man.” The heroes of Soviet tales were meant to portray a transformed and improved version of the average citizen, giving the reader a clear goal for an ideal community-oriented self that the future he or she was meant to become. These new folktales replaced magic with technology, and supernatural forces with Stalinnstead of receiving essential advice from a mythical being, the protagonist would be given advice from omniscient Stalin. If the character followed Stalin’s divine advice, he could be assured success in all his endeavors and a complete transformation into the “New Soviet Man.” The villains of these contemporary fairy tales were the Whites and their leader Idolisce, “the most monstrous idol,” who was the equivalent of the tsar. Descriptions of the Whites in noviny mirrored those of the Tartars in bylinyIn these new stories, the Whites were incompetent, stagnant capitalists, while the Soviet citizens became invincible heroes
Once Stalin died in March 1953, folklorists of the period quickly abandoned the new folktales. Written by individual authors and performers, noviny did not come from the oral traditions of the working class. Consequently, today they are considered pseudo-folklore, rather than genuine Soviet (or Russian) folklore. Without any true connection to the masses, there was no reason noviny should be considered anything other than contemporary literature. Specialists decided that attempts to represent contemporary life through the structure and artistry of the ancient epics could not be considered genuine folklore. Stalin’s name has been omitted from the few surviving pseudo-folktales of the period.Instead of considering folklore under Stalin a renaissance of the traditional Russian epic, today it is generally regarded as a period of restraint and falsehood.
Main articles: Russian literature, List of Russian-language poets and List of Russian-language writers
Russian literature is considered to be among the most influential and developed in the world, with some of the most famous literary works belonging to it Russia’s literary history dates back to the 10th century; in the 18th century its development was boosted by the works of Mikhail Lomonosov and Denis Fonvizin, and by the early 19th century a modern native tradition had emerged, producing some of the greatest writers of all time. This period and the Golden Age of Russian Poetry began with Alexander Pushkin, considered to be the founder of modern Russian literature and often described as the “Russian Shakespeare” or the “Russian Goethe”. It continued in the 19th century with the poetry of Mikhail Lermontov and Nikolay Nekrasov, dramas of Aleksandr Ostrovsky and Anton Chekhov, and the prose of Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Ivan Goncharov, Aleksey Pisemsky and Nikolai Leskov. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky in particular were titanic figures, to the point that many literary critics have described one or the other as the greatest novelist ever.
By the 1880s Russian literature had begun to change. The age of the great novelists was over and short fiction and poetry became the dominant genres of Russian literature for the next several decades, which later became known as the Silver Age of Russian Poetry. Previously dominated by realism, Russian literature came under strong influence of symbolism in the years between 1893 and 1914. Leading writers of this age include Valery Bryusov, Andrei Bely, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Aleksandr Blok, Nikolay Gumilev, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Fyodor Sologub, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Marina Tsvetaeva, Leonid Andreyev, Ivan Bunin, and Maxim Gorky.
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing civil war, Russian cultural life was left in chaos. Some prominent writers, like Ivan Bunin and Vladimir Nabokov left the country, while a new generation of talented writers joined together in different organizations with the aim of creating a new and distinctive working-class culture appropriate for the new state, the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1920s writers enjoyed broad tolerance. In the 1930s censorship over literature was tightened in line with Joseph Stalin’s policy of socialist realism. After his death the restrictions on literature were eased, and by the 1970s and 1980s, writers were increasingly ignoring official guidelines. The leading authors of the Soviet era included Yevgeny Zamiatin, Isaac Babel, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Ilf and Petrov, Yury Olesha, Mikhail Bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Sholokhov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and Andrey Voznesensky.
Soviet era was also the golden age of Russian Science fiction, that was initially inspired by western authors and enthusiastically developed with the success of Soviet space program. Authors like Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Kir Bulychov, Ivan Yefremov, Alexander Belayev enjoyed mainstream popularity at the time.
Some Russian writers, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, are known also as philosophers, while many more authors are known primarily for their philosophical works. Russian philosophy blossomed since the 19th century, when it was defined initially by the opposition of Westernizers, advocating Russia’s following the Western political and economical models, and Slavophiles, insisting on developing Russia as a unique civilization. The latter group includes Nikolai Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontiev, the early founders of eurasianism.
In its further development, Russian philosophy was always marked by a deep connection to literature and interest in creativity, society, politics and nationalism; cosmos and religion were other primary subjects. Notable philosopheres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Vladimir Solovyov, Sergei Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Vladimir Lossky and Vladimir Vernadsky. In the 20th century Russian philosophy became dominated by Marxism.
Main articles: Russian humour, Russian jokes and Chastushka
Russia owes much of its wit to the great flexibility and richness of the Russian language, allowing for puns and unexpected associations. As with any other nation, its vast scope ranges from lewd jokes and silly word play to political satire.
Russian jokes, the most popular form of Russian humour, are short fictional stories or dialogues with a punch line. Russian joke culture features a series of categories with fixed and highly familiar settings and characters. Surprising effects are achieved by an endless variety of plots. Russians love jokes on topics found everywhere in the world, be it politics, spouse relations, or mothers-in-law.
Chastushka, a type of traditional Russian poetry, is a single quatrain in trochaic tetrameter with an “abab” or “abcb” rhyme scheme. Usually humorous, satirical, or ironic in nature, chastushkas are often put to music as well, usually with balalaika or accordion accompaniment. The rigid, short structure (and to a lesser degree, the type of humor these use) parallels limericks. The name originates from the Russian word части́ть, meaning “to speak fast.”
Russian architecture began with the woodcraft buildings of ancient Slavs. Since the Christianization of Kievan Rus’, for several centuries Russian architecture was influenced predominantly by the Byzantine architecture, until the Fall of Constantinople. Apart from fortifications (kremlins), the main stone buildings of ancient Rus’ were Orthodox churches, with their many domes, often gilded or brightly painted. Aristotle Fioravanti and other Italian architects brought Renaissance trends into Russia. The 16th century saw the development of unique tent-like churches culminating in Saint Basil’s Cathedral. By that time the onion dome design was also fully developed. In the 17th century, the “fiery style” of ornamentation flourished in Moscow and Yaroslavl, gradually paving the way for the Naryshkin baroque of the 1690s. After Peter the Great reforms had made Russia much closer to Western culture, the change of the architectural styles in the country generally followed that of Western Europe.
The 18th-century taste for rococo architecture led to the splendid works of Bartolomeo Rastrelli and his followers. During the reign of Catherine the Great and her grandson Alexander I, the city of Saint Petersburg was transformed into an outdoor museum of Neoclassical architecture. The second half of the 19th century was dominated by the Byzantine and Russian Revival style (this corresponds to Gothic Revival in Western Europe). Prevalent styles of the 20th century were the Art Nouveau (Fyodor Shekhtel), Constructivism (Moisei Ginzburg and Victor Vesnin), and the Stalin Empire style (Boris Iofan). After Stalin’s death a new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, condemned the “excesses” of the former architectural styles, and in the late Soviet era the architecture of the country was dominated by plain functionalism. This helped somewhat to resolve the housing problem, but created the large massives of buildings of low architectural quality, much in contrast with the previous bright architecture. After the end of the Soviet Union the situation improved. Many churches demolished in the Soviet times were rebuilt, and this process continues along with the restoration of various historical buildings destroyed in World War II. As for the original architecture, there is no more any common style in modern Russia, though International style has a great influence.
Some notable Russian buildings include:
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod | Golden Gate (Vladimir) | Cathedral of Christ the Saviour | Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir | Cathedral of the Annunciation | Cathedral of the Archangel | Cathedral of the Dormition | Church of the Savior on Blood | Saint Basil’s Cathedral | Kazan Kremlin | Saint Isaac’s Cathedral | Kazan Cathedral | Peter and Paul Cathedral | Sukharev Tower | Menshikov Tower | Moscow Manege | Narva Triumphal Gate | Kolomenskoye | Peterhof Palace | Gatchina | Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra | Solovetsky Monastery | Kunstkamera | Russian Museum | Catherine Palace | Grand Kremlin Palace | Winter Palace | Simonov Monastery | Novodevichy Convent | Lenin’s Mausoleum | Tatlin’s Tower | Palace of the Soviets | Seven Sisters (Moscow) | All-Soviet Exhibition Centre | Ostankino Tower | Triumph-Palace | White House of Russia
Main article: Matryoshka doll
Matryoshka doll is a Russian nesting doll. A set of Matryoshka dolls consist of a wooden figure which can be pulled apart to reveal another figure of the same sort but somewhat smaller inside. It has in turn another somewhat smaller figure inside, and so on. The number of nested figures is usually six or more. The shape is mostly cylindrical, rounded at the top for the head and tapered towards the bottom, but little else. The dolls have no extremities, (except those that are painted). The true artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be extremely elaborate. The theme is usually peasant girls in traditional dress, but can be almost anything; for instance, fairy tales or Soviet leaders.
Russian icons are typically paintings on wood, often small, though some in churches and monasteries may be as large as a table top. Many religious homes in Russia have icons hanging on the wall in the krasny ugol, the “red” or “beautiful” corner (see Icon Corner). There is a rich history and elaborate religious symbolism associated with icons. In Russian churches, the nave is typically separated from the sanctuary by an iconostasis (Russian ikonostás) a wall of icons. Icon paintings in Russia attempted to help people with their prayers without idolizing the figure in the painting. The most comprehensive collection of Icon art is found at the Tretyakov Gallery
The use and making of icons entered Kievan Rus’ following its conversion to Orthodox Christianity from the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 988 AD. As a general rule, these icons strictly followed models and formulas hallowed by usage, some of which had originated in Constantinople. As time passed, the Russians—notably Andrei Rublev and Dionisius—widened the vocabulary of iconic types and styles far beyond anything found elsewhere. The personal, improvisatory and creative traditions of Western European religious art are largely lacking in Russia before the seventeenth century, when Simon Ushakov’s painting became strongly influenced by religious paintings and engravings from Protestant as well as Catholic Europe.
In the mid-seventeenth century, changes in liturgy and practice instituted by Patriarch Nikon resulted in a split in the Russian Orthodox Church. The traditionalists, the persecuted “Old Ritualists” or “Old Believers”, continued the traditional stylization of icons, while the State Church modified its practice. From that time icons began to be painted not only in the traditional stylized and nonrealistic mode, but also in a mixture of Russian stylization and Western European realism, and in a Western European manner very much like that of Catholic religious art of the time. The Stroganov movement and the icons from Nevyansk rank among the last important schools of Russian icon-painting.
Realism came into dominance in the 19th century. The realists captured Russian identity in landscapes of wide rivers, forests, and birch clearings, as well as vigorous genre scenes and robust portraits of their contemporaries. Other artists focused on social criticism, showing the conditions of the poor and caricaturing authority; critical realism flourished under the reign of Alexander II, with some artists making the circle of human suffering their main theme. Others focused on depicting dramatic moments in Russian history. The Peredvizhniki (wanderers) group of artists broke with Russian Academy and initiated a school of art liberated from Academic restrictions. Leading realists include Ivan Shishkin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Vasily Surikov, Viktor Vasnetsov and Ilya Repin.
By the turn of the 20th century and on, many Russian artists developed their own unique styles, neither realist nor avante-garde. These include Boris Kustodiev, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Mikhail Vrubel and Nicholas Roerich. Many works by the Peredvizhniki group of artists have been highly sought after by collectors in recent years. Russian art auctions during Russian Art Week in London have increased in demand and works have been sold for record breaking prices.
The Russian avant-garde is an umbrella term used to define the large, influential wave of modernist art that flourished in Russia from approximately 1890 to 1930. The term covers many separate, but inextricably related, art movements that occurred at the time; namely neo-primitivism, suprematism, constructivism, rayonism, and futurism. Notable artists from this era include El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexander Rodchenko, Pavel Filonov and Marc Chagall. The Russian avant-garde reached its creative and popular height in the period between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1932, at which point the revolutionary ideas of the avant-garde clashed with the newly emerged conservative direction of socialist realism.
In the 20th century many Russian artists made their careers in Western Europe, forced to emigrate by the Revolution. Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Naum Gabo and others spread their work, ideas, and the impact of Russian art globally.
During the Russian Revolution a movement was initiated to put all arts to service of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The instrument for this was created just days before the October Revolution, known as Proletkult, an abbreviation for “Proletarskie kulturno-prosvetitelnye organizatsii” (Proletarian Cultural and Enlightenment Organizations). A prominent theorist of this movement was Alexander Bogdanov. Initially, Narkompros (ministry of education), which was also in charge of the arts, supported Proletkult. Although Marxist in character, the Proletkult gained the disfavor of many party leaders, and by 1922 it had declined considerably. It was eventually disbanded by Stalin in 1932. De facto restrictions on what artists could paint were abandoned by the late 1980s.
However, in the late Soviet era many artists combined innovation with socialist realism including Ernst Neizvestny, Ilya Kabakov, Mikhail Shemyakin, Igor Novikov, Erik Bulatov, and Vera Mukhina. They employed techniques as varied as primitivism, hyperrealism, grotesque, and abstraction. Soviet artists produced works that were furiously patriotic and anti-fascist in the 1940s. After the Great Patriotic War Soviet sculptors made multiple monuments to the war dead, marked by a great restrained solemnity.
Russians have distinctive traditions of folk music. Typical ethnic Russian musical instruments are gusli, balalaika, zhaleika, balalaika contrabass, bayan accordion, Gypsy guitar and garmoshka. Folk music had great influence on the Russian classical composers, and in modern times it is a source of inspiration for a number of popular folk bands, most prominent being Golden Ring, Ural’s Nation Choir, Lyudmila Zykina. Russian folk songs, as well as patriotic songs of the Soviet era, constitute the bulk of repertoire of the world-renowned Red Army choir and other popular Russian ensembles.
Russian folk Dance
Russian Folk Dance (Russian: Русский Народный Танец ) can generally be broken up into two main types of dances Khorovod (Russian: Хоровод), a circular game type dance where the participants hold hands, sing, and the action generally happens in the middle of circle, and Plyaska (Russian: Пляска or Плясовый), a coed circular dance that increases in diversity and tempo, according to Bob Renfield, considered to be the preeminent scholar on the topic. Other forms of Russian Folk Dance include Pereplyas (Russian: Перепляс), an all-male competitive dance, Mass Dance (Russian: Массовый пляс), an unpaired stage dance without restrictions on age or number of participants, Group Dance (Russian: Групповая пляска) a type of mass dance employs simple round-dance passages, and improvisation, and types of Quadrille’s (Russian: Кадриль), originally a French dance brought to Russia in the 18th century.
Ethnic Russian dances include khorovod (Russian: Хоровод), barynya (Russian: Барыня), kamarinskaya (Russian: Камаринская), kazachok (Russian: Казачок) and chechotka (Russian: Чечётка) (a tap dance in bast shoes and with a bayan)Troika (Russian: Тройка) A dance with one man and two women, named after the traditional Russian carriage which is led by three horses. Bear Dance or dancing with bears (Russian: Танец С Медведем) Dates back to 907 when Great Russian Prince Oleg, in celebration of his victory over the Greeks in Kiev, had as entertainment, 16 male dancers dress as bears and four bears dress as dancers Dances with dancers dressed as bears are a reoccurring theme, as seen a recording of the Omsk Russian Folk Chorus
Main articles: Music of Russia and List of Russian composers
Music in 19th century Russia was defined by the tension between classical composer Mikhail Glinka along with the other members of The Mighty Handful, who embraced Russian national identity and added religious and folk elements to their compositions, and the Russian Musical Society led by composers Anton and Nikolay Rubinstein, which was musically conservative. The later Romantic tradition of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era, whose music has come to be known and loved for its distinctly Russian character as well as its rich harmonies and stirring melodies, was brought into the 20th century by Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of the last great champions of the Romantic style of European classical music
World-renowned composers of the 20th century included Alexander Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich and Georgy Sviridov. During most of the Soviet Era, music was highly scrutinized and kept within a conservative, accessible idiom in conformity with the policy of socialist realism.
Soviet and Russian conservatories have turned out generations of world-renowned soloists. Among the best known are violinists David Oistrakh and Gidon Kremer; cellist Mstislav Rostropovich; pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, and Emil Gilels; and vocalists Fyodor Shalyapin, Galina Vishnevskaya, Anna Netrebko and Dmitry