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Music at the Court of Catherine the Great
BBC Radio 3
Through the music of Catherine the Great’s court, biographer Virginia Rounding explores the transformation that the Empress led of a backward Slavic state into a cultural hub, the envy of 18th century Europe.
Virginia looks at how the Empress,a self-confessed musical ignoramus - in a letter to her friend, Voltaire, she writes: "My first music teacher, after seven years of fruitless work, announced that I had neither a singing voice, nor musical talent. She wasn't wrong on either count. At the end, music for me was rarely more than simple noise" - came to lay the foundations for Russia to become the musical centre that it has continued to be ever since.
An important, amusing and musically rich exploration of what has been salvaged of an all but forgotten heritage. Though Catherine’s championing of art and culture is well known, history has paid scant attention to the composers of that time and their role in fostering a Russian musical aesthetic.
Saturday 29th Oct 2011