Sergei Rachmaninoff (Library of Congress)
With the works of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and other composers, Russia has provided us with some of the most exciting and original music in the repertoire today. Vibrant colors, explosive energy, and passionate emotional drive characterize the works of these creators. Yet this tradition seemed to spring from nowhere barely 150 years ago, expanding meteorically in breadth and national confidence over an amazingly short period.
As she explores the riches of Russian concert works, popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin combines lectures and piano demonstrations to trace the turbulent historical movements that acted both as backdrop and engine for this fascinating musical evolution.
British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and heard on NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.
MAR 23 Scriabin and Rachmaninoff
These two Moscow Conservatory classmates were renowned as tremendous pianists and composers. However, the supremely polished Sergey Rachmaninoff seems positively conventional next to Alexander Scriabin, a highly eccentric would-be Messiah who created his own musical language colored by synaesthesia and powered by his bizarre mystic beliefs, as exemplified by his tone poem Prometheus: Poem of Fire. Franklin compares this extravagance with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
MAR 30 The Ballet Masters: Stravinsky and Prokofiev
Commissioned by the great impresario Serge Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky’s ballets crossed the fault line between romanticism and modernism and changed forever the way audiences understood dance. Franklin samples his Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. Sergey Prokofiev composed his Romeo and Juliet under the malign supervision of Soviet apparatchiks yet still produced a ballet score of sublime romance and beauty.
APR 6 Shostakovich and His Colleagues
Despite the fearsome pressure of the Stalinist state, Dmitri Shostakovich was prolific, producing a wide range of symphonic works, operas, concertos, solo works, choral, and chamber music for the 20th-century canon. Along with fellow Soviet composers such as Kabalevsky and Khatchaturian, Franklin explores a selection of Shostakovich masterpieces including symphonies, operas, and film music.
APR 13 More Masterpieces
Franklin concludes the series by sampling a variety of other great works in the Russian tradition. Selections include music from Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov, ballets by Tchaikovsky, orchestral works by Rachmaninoff, chamber music by Shostakovich, and additional composers.
Interested in more Russian Concert Masterworks? Part I of this course is on Feb. 23 to March 16, 2021.
- If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
- Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
- Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
- Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
- View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.