Russian Art Songs - My Bazaar Concert
Photo: Maria Poiret Marusina (1864 - 1933) Actress/Singer/Composer - Moscow, Russia.
Russian art songs certainly have their beginning with Mikhail Glinka (1804 – 1857). During the next 100 years, many dozens of composers added to the genre, from Tchaikovsky to Shostakovich. Music of this genre was usually not connected to nationalistic music, or folk music indigenous to Russia and the lands of Russian-speaking peoples. The root of Russian art songs had a greater connection to similar genres in western Europe. As in western Europe, Russian art songs, or romance songs, were written for piano and voice and intended for presentations in upper-class homes and salons. The music, and especially the lyrics – though usually performed in Russian – was quite cosmopolitan in that the source of subject matter came from all over Europe and Asia.
The publication of Russian art songs reached its zenith during the 19th century, with literally thousands of songs being created by Imperial Russia’s best-known composers. The genre persisted well into the 20th century, albeit with greatly diminished interest. As we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st century, the genre still has a following, but nothing that would compare with 19th century imperial Russia. That said, those who are fans of the genre tend to be deeply moved by the music and lyrics of these often extremely sentimental songs. The subject matter really applies to all the peoples of the world – romance, love, lost love, sorrow, death, birth, memories, regrets, laments, etcetera ad infinitum.
As a young performer, I cut my teeth performing Russian art songs in hotels and restaurants, schools, and even the dreaded early morning concert at factories in the region. As much as I hated doing anything before noon – most of my work kept me downtown until midnight – I found great satisfaction in performing these sentimental tunes to rough-and-tumble women factory workers who would tear up and stay misty-eyed for the duration of my performance. That may sound a bit sadistic on my part, but the reality is that crying can have just as much positive effect on the mind and body as laughing – so it was a good thing.
The reason for my focus on the Russian art song genre is that I will soon be performing a salon concert featuring Russian art songs. A few years ago, a new store opened in Reno NV with a focus on eastern European products. Initially the store included a delicatessen with a small eating area. The products they were selling were all high quality, and as a result, the foods they served – and continue to serve – are as excellent as they are authentic. Since this past summer, the owners have acquired a room adjacent to the original store and created an intimate little café. My Russian art song concert – “Wistful Dreams” - will represent the official grand opening of the new café. And, I will be accompanied by none other than the famous Aren Long of Reno.
Wistful Dreams will happen on Saturday, March 23rd at 6:00pm, at Bazaar European Deli & Café at 3652 South Virginia Street in Reno (just north of the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa). Like I mentioned, this is a very intimate café, so tickets are limited to the first thirty patrons. To reserve tickets, call (775) 870-9095 or stop by Bazaar. If you don’t live in Reno, you can complete your ticket reservation transaction by telephone.
The owners will be providing complimentary Hors d’oeuvres (Закуски) and Wine (Вина) samples to concert patrons. Guests may also purchase anything off the regular menu, and perhaps enjoy a fine Georgian wine or Czech beer with their meal. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity!