Voices from Russia

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

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Rare Recording from 1909: Leo Tolstoy Reads From His Last Major Work in Four Languages

Ivan Kramskoi. A Portriat of the Author L N Tolstoy. 1873

A Portrait of the Author Graf L N Tolstoy

Ivan Kramskoi

1873

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Earlier this week, we brought you rare recordings of Sigmund Freud and Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges speaking in English. Today, we present a remarkable series of recordings of the great Russian novelist L N Tolstoy reading a passage from his book, Wise Thoughts for Every Day, in four languages… English, German, French, and Russian. Wise Thoughts For Every Day was Tolstoy’s last major work. It first appeared in 1903 as The Thoughts of Wise Men, and was revised and renamed several times before the author’s death in 1910. The Soviets banned it, only to reappear in 1995 as a bestseller in Russia. In 1997, Peter Sekirin translated it into English and published it as A Calendar of Wisdom. The book is a collection of passages from a diverse group of thinkers, ranging from Lao-Tzu to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Tolstoy wrote in his diary, “I felt that I was elevated to great spiritual and moral heights by communication with the best and wisest people whose books I read and whose thoughts I selected for my Circle of Reading”.

As an old man, Tolstoy rejected his great works of fiction, believing that it was more important to give moral and spiritual guidance to the common people. He wrote, “To create a book for the masses, for millions of people is incomparably more important and fruitful than to compose a novel of the kind which diverts some members of the wealthy classes for a short time, and then is forever forgotten”. Tolstoy arranged his book for the masses as a calendar, with a series of readings for each day of the year. For example under today’s date, 9 May, Tolstoy selected brief passages from Immanuel Kant, Solon, and the Koran. Underneath he wrote, “We can’t stop on the way to self-perfection. As soon as you notice that you have a bigger interest in the outer world than in yourself, then you should know that the world moves behind you”.

The audio recordings above were made at the writer’s home in Yasnaya Polyana on 31 October 1909, when he was 81-years-old. He died just over a year later. Apparently, Tolstoy translated the passage himself. The English version sounds a bit like the King James Bible. The words are hard to make out in the recording, but he said:

That the object of life is self-perfection, the perfection of all immortal souls, that this is the only object of my life, is seen to be correct by the fact alone that every other object is essentially a new object. Therefore, the question whether thou hast done what thou shoudst have done is of immense importance, for the only meaning of thy life is in doing in this short term allowed thee, that which is desired of thee by He or That which has sent thee into life. Art thou doing the right thing?

Tolstoy made several voice recordings in his life, dating back to 1895 when he made two wax cylinder recordings for Julius Block. Russian literary scholar Andrew Kaufman collected three more vintage recordings (all in Russian) including Tolstoy’s lesson to peasant children on his estate, a reading of his fairy tale The Wolf, and an excerpt from his essay I Can’t be Silent. You can listen to them on Kaufman’s website.

9 May 2012

Open Culture

http://www.openculture.com/2012/05/rare_recording_leo_tolstoy_reads_his_work_in_four_languages_1909.html

Related Content:

The Last Days of L N Tolstoy Captured on Video

450 free Audio Books and 300 free eBooks  (list includes works by Tolstoy and other Russian classics)

Monday, 10 February 2014

A Multimedia Presentation. RIA Novosti Presents… The Brightest Moments of the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi (Part Two)

00 Sochi Olympics 01. 10.02.14

The second part of the show introduced viewers to Russian history and culture. This tableau is from the time of Tsar Pyotr Veliki.

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00 Sochi Olympics 02. 10.02.14

The main character in the presentation, the girl Lyubov (“Love”), participated in a folk performance with onion domes, amongst which were the stylised colourful domes of St Basil Cathedral. In one of the highlights of the show, the domes soared into the air and almost lined up in the order, along with the world-famous church on Red Square, which is one of the best-known symbols of Moscow. 

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00 Sochi Olympics 03. 10.02.14

Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev watched the ceremony in the company of figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova.

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00 Sochi Olympics 04. 10.02.14

A ballet production based on the novel War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy was one of the most spectacular scenes.The dancers portrayed the first ball of Natasha Rostova to the music of Yevgeni Doga from the movie Мой ласковый и нежный зверь (My Affectionate and Tender Beast). Featured were prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova of the Bolshoi Theatre and the famous choreographer Vladimir Vasiliev. 

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00 Sochi Olympics 05. 10.02.14

The ceremony needed 3,000 performers and 2,000 volunteers, who used 6,000 costumes. The total number of people involved in the ceremony was more than 9,200.

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00 Sochi Olympics 06. 10.02.14

The historical presentation continued; the romantic sublimity of the 19th century segued into the uncompromising 20th century… red tones heralded the revolutionary era and symbolised the epoch of constructivism. The model of a giant locomotive appeared under the dome of the stadium to the music of Sviridov‘s theme for Время, вперёд! (Time, Forward!).

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00 Sochi Olympics 07. 10.02.14

A scene portrayed the USSR‘s reconstruction after the VOV, with workers, slogans, and appeals of the Stalinist skyscaper era, accompanied by the Muslim Magomaev song Москва (Moscow).

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00 Sochi Olympics 08. 10.02.14

Young couples with prams and toddlers symbolised the Soviet baby boom, which occurred during 1981-83, that is, immediately after the 1980 Olympics.

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00 Sochi Olympics 09. 10.02.14

Famous ballerina Diana Vishnyova danced to the music of the ballet Swan Lake.

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00 Sochi Olympics 10. 10.02.14

World-renowned opera singer Anna Netrebko sang the Olympic hymn.

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00 Sochi Olympics 11. 10.02.14

Dancers during the pageant at the opening ceremony of 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

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00 Sochi Olympics 12. 10.02.14

Famous tennis star Mariya Sharapova brought the Olympic flame into the stadium.

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00 Sochi Olympics 13. 10.02.14

Sharapova gave the torch to Yelena Isinbayeva, who passed it to Aleksandr Karelin, who gave it to Alina Kabaeva, who then handed over the torch to Irina Rodnina. Vladislav Tretyak solemnly took the torch from the hands of the famous figure skater. 

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00 Sochi Olympics 14. 10.02.14

Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina jointly lit the Olympic flame with a torch that had been in the International Space Station.

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00 Sochi Olympics 15. 10.02.14

Fireworks from 3,500 volleys capped the opening ceremony.

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8 February 2014

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/sochi2014_news/20140208/993754184_993749410.html

 

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Saturday, 13 October 2012

13 October 2012. Video. Now, For Something GOOD… It Was an Old Russian Easter…

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We Live Again (1934) is a film adaptation of Lev Tolstoy‘s 1899 novel Resurrection (Voskreseniye), starring Anna Sten and Frederic March. After dealing with some of the BS in the contemporary church scene, we all need a break…

BMD

 

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