Russkaia muzykal'naia gazeta

(St. Petersburg, 1894-1918)
Complete Introduction : Russian | English

Prepared by Natalia Ostroumova
10 volumes (2012)

The Russian Musical Gazette / Русская музыкальная газета [RMG], published in St. Petersburg from 1894 until 1918, is one of the most important pre-revolutionary music periodicals owing to the extensive geographical scope of the musical events treated, and the high quality of its content written by the period’s most important Russian music critics and professional musicians. From 1894 to 1898 the number of monthly issues varied: twelve appear in 1894 and 1896, eleven in 1895 and 1898 (no. 5-6, a double issue), and ten in 1897 (nos. 5-6 and 7-8, double issues). From 1899 the journal was published weekly, although during the summer months with double issues. For the last two years the number of issues declined: in 1917 there were thirty-six issues; in 1918 six double issues. In addition, from 1913 to 1917 a Bibliographic List was published as an appendix to the journal. The number of pages per issue fluctuates from sixteen to one hundred, with later (weekly) issues noticeably shorter than earlier ones. In the years of unstable political conditions, the number of pages decreased, as a rule, brought about by a reduction in the number of musical chronicle sections. The journal page dimensions in 1894-98 are approximately 24 х 15 cm, and in subsequent years approximately 26 x 18 cm. There are some graphic materials, among them pictures, musical examples and caricatures. In a two-column format, pages are numbered in 1894 and 1898 while columns are numbered in all other years.

The structure of the RMG changes very little throughout its publication. The first large section contains long articles and sketches; the second large section is a chronicle of musical life, and the third part a "Bibliography." The last section is an appendix to RMG under the title "Bibliographic Review." The articles in the first section treat numerous subjects, devoted to composers’ creative works, performers and other musical figures, reviews of theatrical events, concert organizations, historical sketches, theoretical and ethnographic studies, and to responses to opinions about current musical events. A separate rubric "Periodicals about Music" offers brief reviews on subjects treated in other publications. Obituaries are published at the end of this section.

From the historical point of view, the most important materials in the journal are articles about the compositions of living composers, both Russian and foreign. The selection of letters and documents, many never previously published, are also of great importance. These include letters by A. Serov, V. Stasov, A. Verstovsky, A. Dargomyzhsky, Musorgsky, Borodin, Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann, and materials for the biographies of D. Bortnjansky and D. Razumovsky, among others. Special attention is paid to Glinka, the founder of Russian national opera. The special rubric "Glinkiana" contains letters and materials important for the biography of the composer.

Biographical sketches acquaint readers with the lives and creative aspects of composers, performers and musical personalities of both the past and present. It should be noted that RMG sought to give wide attention to modern composers, publishing in its pages descriptions and thematic analyses of new compositions. Among these are articles devoted to new operas by Rimsky-Korsakov in which an opera’s content is given, as well as thoughtful opinions about its musical characteristics. The reviews of operas by composers of the second tier (Tushintsy by Blaramberg, Saturnin Byzantian by E. Mertke, The Necklace by N. Krotkov, Christus, Feramors, and Sulamith by A. Rubinstein) are of great value. Particular attention is paid to musical and theoretical problems ("Major and Minor from the Physical Point of View" by I. Lvov, "About the Persian-Arabian Scale" by W. Peter), and to the new developments in musical style ("About Modern Aspirations to a New Musical [Tonal] System" by N. Cherkas, and "Music by the Futurists" by I. Lipaev).

Some detailed historical sketches are focused on Russian musical culture, including "Horn Music in Russia" by N. Findeizen, "History of Russian Opera" by B. Cheshihin, "Orchestral Musicians. Historical and Household Sketches" by I. Lipaev, and on musical life in other countries. Of interest are the articles on the history of art organizations and philharmonic societies (large publications for the celebrations of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society, the Mariinsky Theater). A great deal of attention is devoted to the creativity of Wagner, his aesthetic views, analyses of his operas, and the history of the Bayreuth Theater. Several translations of writings by foreign authors are found, including "The Notes of the Actor" by Gounod, "Art Work of the Future" and "About Conducting" by Wagner, and "The Popular Statement of Acoustics in Relation to Music" by Hugo Riemann.

Many articles feature musical folklore and folk-song; including research about Russian, Bashkir, Ukrainian and Georgian folk music ("The Balalaika and Zurna" by N. Findeizen, "About the Georgian National Secular Singing" by M. Balanchivadze, "Lyre, the National Musical Instrument. A Historic and Ethnographic Sketch," "Musical Creativity of Pomors" by A. Maslov), and articles published under the rubric "National Singing Business." In RMG there are interesting articles about Church music such as: "Reform of Worship Singing in the Catholic Church" and "The Court Chapel 150 Years Ago" by A. Preobrazhensky; "Synodal, Former Patriarchal Choristers" by W. Metallov; "About the Collection of Ancient Singing Manuscripts in the Moscow Church Singing Synodal School" by S. Smolensky; "Worship Singing in the Ancient Christian Church" by N. Solowiev; a number of related articles by N. Kompaneisky; and a special rubric "The Business of Church Singing." Many articles are devoted to musical pedagogy. The review "Russian Music Abroad" reports on the activities of Russian artists and the performance of Russian music outside Russia. Musical life in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the provinces features information about the Russian Musical Society includes reviews of its regular symphonic gatherings in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and accounts of the Society’s concerts and other activities. Annual reports of the local branches and meetings at the Society’s headquarters appear in almost every issue.

Nikolay Fedorovich Findeizen (1868-1928), a prominent musicologist, musical critic and public figure in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russia, was editor-in-chief of the Russian Musical Gazette throughout its entire run. He communicated closely with Stasov and with the young musicians grouped around Rimsky-Korsakov; in many respects the journal defines its special importance in the development of the school of Russian composers. Findeizen’s articles in the Russian Musical Gazette include studies about C.A. Kjui [Cui], Glinka, Borodin, Serov, Russian music in nineteenth century, music in Norway, and many others on the history of Russian music and composers (Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Taneyev, Brahms and Wagner), as well as concert reviews and critical articles.

Alexander Vjacheslavovich Ossovsky (1871-1957) and Evgeny Maksimovich Petrovsky (1873-1919) were active contributors and prominent musical figures on the journal’s editorial staff. Ossovsky’s publications in RMG include articles about Russian and foreign composers, among them Glazunov, Goldmark, D'Albert, A. Rubinstein, Berlioz, Wagner, Godard, Thomas and Liszt, and the chronicle of concert life and notes on new publications. Petrovsky is the author of many articles in the RMG including "About Musical Themes," "The Thematic Analysis of Sadko," "Hanslick’s Views on the National in Music," "New Russian Ballet Raymonda by A. K. Glazunov," "Tristan and Isolde by Wagner," "Friedrich Smetana," "Lohengrin by Wagner," "Iolanta by Tchaikovsky," and "Chamber Music in Russia." Petrovsky also writes articles devoted to opera performances at the Mariinsky Theater, and on bibliographic materials.

Other authors of articles include Ivan Vasiljevich Lipaev (1865-1942); Grigory Petrovich Prokofev (1883-1962); the Russian pianist, pedagogue and musical writer Rostislav Vladimirovich Genika (1859-?); Vsevolod Evgrafovich Cheshihin (1865-1934); a leading musical critic, musicologist and music critic Yury Vladimirovich Kurdyumov (1859-1936);Victor Grigorevich Walter (1865-1935), a violinist, writer on music and critic; music critic and composer Alexander Petrovich Koptjaev (1868-1941); Vasily Davidovich Korganov (1865-1934), the musicologist and pianist; four outstanding specialists in church music, Antonin Viktorovich Preobrazhensky (1870-1929), Stepan Vasilevich Smolensky (1848-1909), Vasily Mihajlovich Metallov, and Nikolay Ivanovich Kompanejsky (1848-1910). The Russian ethnographer and gatherer of national songs Sergey Gavrilovich Rybakov (1867-1922) provided of articles devoted to musical folklore.