21 December 2013, 10:10

A tribute to Alexander Dargomyzhsky

Photo: RIA Novosti

Photo: RIA Novosti

Photo: RIA Novosti

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Russian classic composer Alexander Dargomyzhsky was born in February 1813, and his 200th birth anniversary is marked this year. Dargomyzhsky was certainly one of Russia’s founding fathers of the classical music tradition, and any true fan of Russian music will nod his head knowingly, upon hearing this name.

But then they might stop to reflect: “Which compositions of his exactly do I know? And how rarely one hears his music – it is practically not performed at all!”

It’s a sad fact, but true. Dargomyzhsky’s name found itself obscured, overshadowed by others, of course, also brilliant and glorious Russians – an older contemporary Glinka, younger ones – Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky. They were all his friends, and all valued his talent extremely highly. Mussorgsky wrote referring to him as a “Great teacher of musical truth”. After all, Dargomyzhsky brought to Russian art something it had not known before that: musical realism.

Dargomyzhsky, in effect, “predicted” Mussorgsky’s musical dramas; without him we would never have known operas of Shostakovich, and the entire opera art of the 20th century in effect followed in the course Dargomyzhsky pioneered and chartered.

We shall yet be dwelling today on all that was prophetic in Dargomyzhsky’s art. But you have to agree, no super new ideas are worth much if there is a conspicuous absence of that for which art exists - beauty. And it is without doubt that the music of this composer overflows with wondrous beauty.

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