Voices from Russia

Sunday, 15 April 2018

15 April 2018. N S Gumilyov on Peace and the World

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N S Gumilyov isn’t well-known in English… poetry is notoriously hard to translate. Nikolai Stepanovich loved wordplay, and that’s almost impossible to render in another language. In the above quote, he played on the fact that мир means both “peace” and “world” in Russian… you can only trick out the meaning from the context. There’s much of that sort of thing in Gumilyov’s works… it’s why so many Russian-speakers love his poetry and writing.

BMD

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Saturday, 2 December 2017

2 December 2017. “Russian” ISN’T a Label On Your Jeans… Nor Does It Have Anything to Do With “Whiteness”

A Portrait of the Author L N Tolstoy

Ivan Kramskoi

1873

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Being Russian doesn’t mean that one has a certain skin-colour, certain ethnic roots, or a certain hair-colour. Someone Russian in spirit is a person that won’t sleep peacefully if they know that injustice is being done somewhere. To be Russian means that a person will seek the truth until the end, always, and in every circumstance. Russians evaluate all that goes on in accord with their conscience; each has their own opinion on every matter that concerns them.

Graf L N Tolstoy

Thursday, 23 November 2017

23 November 2017. A Light Goes Out in Our Musical Firmament… D A Khvorostovsky Passes at 55 From Brain Cancer

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Last year, Dmitri Aleksandrovich gave a moving performance of Журавли (Zhuravli: The White Cranes)… I find this the most appropriate piece to mark his passing. There’s also the gutsy original rendition by the late great M N Bernes (People’s Artist of the RSFSR).  Mark Naumovich’s version is much more stark and raw… listen to him… it’s à propos for such a day (he also died relatively young of cancer, at age 57). This was the last recording that Bernes made… many thought it his musing on his approaching death. That may be the same with the above performance, as it occurred one year after the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

D A Khvorostovsky was a People’s Artist of Russia. I D Kobzon (People’s Artist of the USSR) reported that his funeral will be 27 November at the Chaikovsky Zal of the Moscow Conservatoire. Dmitri Aleksandrovich wasn’t a believer… his ashes will lie in Novodevichy and in his Siberian home. However, we stand in respect before the mystery of death and wish the best for his family and friends, and express sincere and honest condolences at his passing (as did President Putin). Secular people simply aren’t religious believers (for a multitude of reasons, many grounded in actuality); we should respect them and their beliefs, without reserve. I bow before all of Dmitri Aleksandrovich’s loved ones and express my solidarity with their pain and my community with their grief.

ВЕЧНАЯ ЕМУ ПАМЯТЬ!

A light went out in our musical firmament… the whole world mourns…

BMD

Sunday, 12 November 2017

12 November 2017. 196th Anniversary of the Birth of F M Dostoyevsky

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