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History of Guitar in Russia
April 13, 2010 22:41

Guitarist (by V.Tropinin, 1823)

The history of guitar in Russia is rich and original, with quite a complicated way of its development.

The well-known Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin wrote that as early as the 6th century the Slavs had played the cithara and psaltery (gusli) and did not part with these instruments even on military campaigns.

A four-stringed guitar was also known in Russia. Special music journals with both solo and ensemble pieces were published for it.

The appearance of the guitar in Russia dates back to the mid 18th century. In the first book on history of music in Russia published in 1770 its author Yakov Shtelin, “professor of eloquence and poetry” of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences pointed out: “Though Italian guitar and mandolin thanks to various Italians appeared in Moscow, they were never a big success - especially that they cannot fulfill their function, i.e. accompany enamored sighs under windows of the beloved – in the country where night serenades are not appropriate”.

The founder of the guitar art in Russia is A.O. Sikhra. His contemporary, the author of the first printed work on the history of Russian 7-stringed guitar M.A. Stakhovich referred to him as the “inventor” of such a guitar. “Sikhra for the first time made an experiment on construction of the 7-stringed guitar in Vilno in the late 1790s and perfected it in Moscow”.

The 6-stringed guitar appeared in Russia in the late 18th century. In the early 19th century it became a fashionable instrument and attracted admirers from high society. First schools of playing this instrument sprang up. The oldest school published in Russia was “The perfected guitar school for six strings” by Ignaty fon Geld. It came out in the Russian and German languages in the early 19th century. 

In 1821-1823 “Music Academies” teaching youths and girls to play the guitar were open in Moscow and Nizhni Novgorod.

The first outstanding Russian guitarists were Mark Danilovich Sokolovsky (1818-1883) and Nikolai Petrovich Makarov (1810-1890).

P.Pettoletti (1800-1875), I.Dekker-Shenk (1826-1899), I.Klinger (died 1897), Y.Shtokman (1839-1905), V.Lebedev (1867-1907), Y.Dyakov (1840-1910) and others also greatly contributed to the development of Russian guitar art.

The above-named guitarists were famous performers and teachers, authors of schools and manuals, original compositions and arrangements for the 6-string guitar.

The second half of the 19th century saw decay of guitar art both in Russia and Western Europe. For a few decades the guitar was moved to the background, and only by the end of the 19th century it started to regain appeal and acknowledgement of public at large.

The new generation of guitar virtuosos and composers developed the best classical traditions and escalated the guitar art to unprecedented heights.

Read more about russian Music Instruments... 


Tags: Russian Music Instruments     

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