Russian music unites past and present productions within the framework of traditional, popular or scientific music, created on the historical and current territory of Russia and the former USSR (other republics of the USSR are given special treatment). It is characterized by a great variety, especially of polyphonic vocal productions. It stretches from Europe to the borders of Asia, uniting many styles and subject to many influences. Given the diversity of nations that make up this vast territory, there is not a single “Russian music,” but as many nations or regions. Even though the Russian language and the Russian nation are scattered throughout the territory, we can still call this music “Russian music,” even though it may be expressed conversely in Turkish or other languages.
Russian music of today
Many songs of Russian music are part of Russian folklore; well-known examples often used today are the songs and music of Korobeiniki and Kalinka.
Folk Rock from Russia
Folk-rock music is experiencing a renaissance with the singers Pelagueïa and Melnitsa, who emerged from the underground scene and are often heard on the radio. Arkona is a folk metal band – pagan metal
Russian pop music
Pop artists include Polina Gagarina , Leonid Agoutine, who recorded the jazz album Cosmopolitan Life with Al Di Meola.
The pillars of modern Russian music were the bards. The first great was Alexander Vertinski , singer-songwriter who sang with piano accompaniment. On stage he always appeared in a tuxedo and white makeup, which gave him the appearance of a Pierrot.
He began his career in the 1910s and fled the Soviet Union for France during the 1917 Revolution. Despite the admiration of Russian émigrés, he could not bear this exile. Finally, he asked for permission to return to the Soviet Union. After his return, although tolerated by Stalin, he, like Mikhail Bulgakov, could perform only on provincial stages until his death in 1943.
Among the mythical bards after the Second World War , such as Bulat Okoudjava or Youri Vizbor , the most striking is undoubtedly Vladimir Vysotsky . Born in 1938 , from the early 1960s he became known as one of the leading actors of the Taganka Theater in Moscow , accompanying himself on the guitar . These songs were not originally intended for the public, but private recordings soon spread. However, he was not recognized as a singer by the authorities during his lifetime, as his songs were either political or did not conform to the Party’s poetic line. This did not prevent him from increasing his success and giving many more or less underground concerts. Through his marriage to Marina Vlady, he managed to record several albums abroad. Like Vertinsky, he could not bear life as an immigrant and stayed in the Soviet Union despite censorship. He died of a heart attack in 1980. Despite the silence of the press, over 40,000 fans attended his funeral.
Of the music bands that emerged between 1950 and 1990, relatively few left their mark. But they imposed themselves all the more strongly, often imitating Western groups. The first group to emerge was Aquarium (Аквариум) from the 1970s, a group now considered one of the founders of contemporary Russian rock. The women’s organization Alla Pougatcheva was founded in the same period.
Equally striking is the group qu’Aquarium Kino by Viktor Coj . Since the release of their first album “45” and until Tsoï’s death in a car accident in 1990, the group developed into THE group of the 80s.
While rock bands like Nol, DDT or Brigada-S were founded by Garik Sukaczov in the early 80’s, their popularity was limited by the lack of opportunities to perform. Since they did not fit into the framework of “Soviet art,” they could not give official concerts or release records, at least in Russia. This naturally led to a black market for records produced abroad (especially in the United States and France) and to an illegal concert business. It was only during perestroika in the late 1980s that bands found an official audience.
The movement that began in the mid-1980s gained momentum. Since the early 1990s, numerous new groups emerged, often inspired by the style of American (rock) groups such as DDT or Alissa, or by more commercial (called “popsa”, попса, in Russian) groups such as Zemfira or, more recently, Alsou or Tatu . But the expansion takes place in all genres, from rap to Legal Business to reggae to 5-Nice , via Russian Answers to Mano Negra : Markscheider art .
One of the peculiarities of Russian pop is the possibility of listening to folk music of almost all genres. One of its predecessors, Ukrainian Vopli Vidopliassova , quickly joined this movement. Whether it’s Leningrad , a punk rock group known in Russia for its vulgarity, or the more klezmer-heavy La Minor , this feature stands out the most in the chaos of the Russian (music) landscape.
Another direction of Russian music are the patriotic songs, which clearly emphasize the Russian, Orthodox or Slavic identity as a counterweight to the West, and whose singers are Janna Bishevskaya , Aleksandr Népomniachtchi, etc..
As a result of mass emigration of Russians abroad, many groups formed abroad, especially in Germany and the United States. Often these groups still sing in Russian to attract the audience, such as RotFront in Berlin, or they return to their roots, such as Red Elvises or Gogol Bordello.
Classical music from Russia
Russian classical music developed in Russia mainly during the Romantic and Modern periods. This was supported by the establishment of conservatories (1859) and the production of world-famous artists such as David Oïstrakh (violin), Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Sergei Rachmaninoff , Alexander Scriabin , Vladimir Horowitz , Sviatoslav Richter (piano) and the singer Galina Vishnevskaïa and Fédor Chaliapin.
Vocal music from Russia
In 1648, Tsar Alexis I of Russia, under the influence of the Orthodox Church, banned all musical instruments, considering them evil; this explains the restriction of the instrumental repertoire. From then on, vocal music, especially in the form of choirs, was to gain considerable popularity. Itinerant skhomorok musicians were also banned. Only during the reign of Peter the Great in 1711. French and German musicians were invited to play in the Russian band, train and teach them. Ukrainian musicians often came to the court.
Traditionelle Musik aus Russland
Traditional Russian music includes both folk songs from the Romantic period (Kalinka, Les Yeux noirs, Kamarinskaïa) and various authentic forms of folklore, such as funeral songs or shaman songs. This music, considered proletarian, a symbol of Russian identity, was preserved and valorized in the face of the Soviet regime’s ideological struggle against the West.