By Richard Stites
Read or Download Serfdom, Society, and the Arts in Imperial Russia: The Pleasure and the Power PDF
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Extra resources for Serfdom, Society, and the Arts in Imperial Russia: The Pleasure and the Power
Opposite, in a two-story flat (it is now a school), lived a key figure of art music in the first half of the century, Mikhail Vielgorsky, who held there a grand musical salon. A few steps away, across Italyanskaya Street, stood the Gentry Club or Noble Assembly, completed in 1839, which now houses the St. Petersburg Philharmonia. Three blocks to the east, on Karavannaya Street, General Alexei Lvov, a major mover in the musical world under Nicholas I, ran his own salon and private concert venue.
The mini-Directorate in Moscow, though subordinate to St. Petersburg, began to achieve great power and dynamism in the 1830s and 1840s, not only as the headquarters of Moscow performance art but as a staging area for musical virtuosos and theatrical tours to the provinces as well. Moscow developed certain kinds of public and semipublic spaces that had no parallel in St. Petersburg, and led the way particularly in extending the reach of theater into public conversation: university, coffeehouse, and an actors’ hiring hall.
At the same time, many lords viewed the maintenance of estate culture as a mode of ‘‘acting European’’ though, ironically, some outsiders saw it rather as Asian barbarism, especially on those estates which offered glittering superficiality above the dirt and rust, stink and ruin beneath the surface. Prior to the 1850s, the arts had little to say about the deeper levels of manorial culture or serf artistry itself. Only rarely did graphic art assault the life-styles of the gentry. Playwrights did so regularly, though always within limits of a nonsystemic critique.