Grigoriy Rasputin 1871 — 1916 / Biography Resource Center Biographies
Charismatic Russian monk, who became a powerful figure in the court of Czar Nicholas II, before the Romanov dynasty was swept aside by the Russian Revolution of 1917. The son of a peasant, Rasputin joined a monastery as a novice at the age of sixteen. As the Orthodox Church established hegemony in Russia, various dissenting sect groups emerged, among them the Khlysty. The Khlysty were supposedly founded in the seventeenth century by Daniel Filippov. They deviated from Orthodoxy in numerous ways. Several different splinter groups developed through the nineteenth century and by the beginning of the twentieth century the Khlysty numbered approximately 65,000 people. Rasputin came into early contact with the Khlysty, though it is unclear just how dedicated a member he had been. Rasputin married around 1890, but his first son died when only six months old. The tragedy sent Rasputin to a strange hermit named Makary, and subsequently Rasputin became absorbed in scriptures, prayer, and meditation. One day he saw an image of the Virgin in the sky, and Makary told him, “God has chosen you for a great achievement. In Order to strengthen your spiritual power, you should go and pray to the Virgin in the convent of Afon.”
The convent was at Mount Athos, in Greece, two thousand miles away, but in 1891, Rasputin made the pilgrimage on foot. Later he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, traveling across Turkey. For the next few years he became a wandering staretz (lay priest). He was widely believed to possess occult power, which made him both loved and feared. He manifested gifts of healing and prophecy. In 1903, he traveled to St. Petersburg, where he met influential churchmen, including the monk Illiodor, who later became a hateful rival. Rasputin’s reputation as a prophet and miracle worker spread widely, and he was sought by rich and poor.
In those days, Russian court life and high society were still strongly attracted to the marvels of Spiritualism, which had been introduced in the 1860s by Alexander N. Aksakof, and any wonder worker was in great demand. Soon Rasputin came to the attention of the czar of Russia to whom he became an indispensable adviser and healer to the royal family.
Surrounded by the madhouse of tyranny, secret police, bomb plots, crippling wars, and the ruthless suppression of liberty of the Romanov empire, Rasputin, self-absorbed in his own sense of destiny, towered above the sycophants, bureaucrats, and plotters. He treated the czar and czarina with complete familiarity, and they welcomed Rasputin because of the healing powers he supposedly possessed; he seemed to be able to treat the couple’s only son, Alexis, who was a hemophiliac. In 1911, tiring of court life, he undertook another pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and during his absence his enemies intrigued against him. In the fall of 1915, when the czar left to take command of the Russian army, Rasputin took on more power as the czarina’s chief aide. Rasputin forced many of the cabinet ministers to resign, and he replaced them with his cronies. His enemies, headed by Prince Yussupov, felt he had taken on too much political power and planned his murder.
The day before Rasputin was killed, Czar Nicholas requested his blessing and with curious presence, Rasputin said, “This time it is for you to bless me.” Yussupov invited Rasputin to his palace and persuaded him to eat poisoned food and drink poisoned wine. The poison was ineffectual. Thereupon the treacherous Yussupov sang gypsy songs and played the guitar before leaving the room and returning with a loaded revolver, shooting his victim in the back. Other conspirators rushed in clumsily, accidentally switching off the room light. When the light was switched on again, Rasputin appeared dead, but was still alive. Another conspirator shot Rasputin again; the body was dragged from the house and battered with a steel press. But Rasputin was still alive when he was pushed through a hole in the ice on the River Neva. And although his wrists had been bound, he had still managed to free his right hand and make the sign of the cross before drowning. He died December 31, 1916.
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In the cellars of St. Petersburg’s Yusupov Palace, visitors view a recreation of the 1916 murder that shocked the world. It involved the young Prince Felix Yusupov, and the Russian peasant and the mystic Grigoriy Rasputin, known as the “evil genius of Russia” for his notorious influence on Empress Alexandria, wife of Czar Nicholas II. Yusupov lured Rasputin to his palace on the pretext of a party, served him a meal laced with poison and then shot him. Badly wounded, Rasputin fled the palace, was recaptured by other conspirators, shot, beaten, and thrown into the river. His corpse was found three days later, clinging to a bridge. He had finally died by drowning.
Born: May 30 (June 9), 1672, Moscow. Died: January 28 (February 8), 1725, St. Petersburg.
Crowned tzar of Russia on April 27, 1682; became Emperor of Russia on October 22, 1721.
Peter was a grandson of Tzar Michael Romanov (who was chosen to be a Tzar in 1613). In 1682, at the age of 10, Peter was proclaimed Tzar, but due to a power struggle between different political forces he had to rule together with his brother Ivan under the patronage of his sister Sofia. In 1689, after the failure of a coup d’etat, Sofia was overthrown and exiled to a convent. When tzar Ivan died in 1696, Peter remained monarch and engineered a series of reforms that were to put Russia among the major European powers. Peter opened Russia to the West. He invited the best European engineers, shipbuilders, architects, craftsmen and merchants to come to Russia. Hundreds of Russians were sent to Europe to get the best education and learn different arts and crafts.
One of the Peter’s main goals was to regain access to the Baltic Sea and Baltic trade. In 1700 he started the Northern War with Sweden, which lasted for 21 years. In the course of the war St. Petersburg was founded (1703) in the Neva River delta. At the end of the war Russia was victorious and conquered the vast lands on the Baltic coast. Russia gained access to European trade and St. Petersburg became her major sea port.
In 1712 Peter the Great moved the Russian capital to St. Petersburg and continued paying special attention to the swift construction of the city – his European “paradise”. When the Northern War ended in 1721 Russia was declared an Empire and Peter the Great proclaimed himself its Emperor. Meanwhile, Peter continued his political and economic reforms. He reorganized the government: established the Senat as the highest government institution and 10 semi-ministries “kollegii”. Peter introduced a new poll tax, which brought him funding for an active foreign policy and for boosting national manufacturing and trade. The “tzar-reformer” was first to organize a Russian regular army and build the Russian navy (he was also an experienced shipbuilder). Peter the Great was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral and the people still bring flowers to his tomb.
Peter’s personality has raised many questions for almost three centuries. He was a big strong man (6′ 8” inches – 2.04 meters) who unlike previous Russian monarchs was not afraid of physical labor. He was an experienced army officer and navy admiral, a skilful shipbuilder and an amazingly energetic personality. It has to be said that Peter was also very cruel. Several coup attempts against him ended with mass executions. He personally interrogated his own son Alexei, suspected of plotting against him (Alexei was the first inmate of a high security political jail in the Peter and Paul fortress). Nevertheless, the scale of Peter’s personality and massive reforms have inspired generations of historians, writers and ordinary people.
There are many monuments to Peter the Great in St. Petersburg. Among the most prominent are the “Bronze Horseman” and another equestrian monument in front of the Mikhailovsky Castle.
Alexander Menshikov (Alexashka) became the first governor of the city. He started life as bakers helper boy. He was well dressed and was well mannered. More importantly he was the only person who could stop Czar Peter in rage. They were childhood friends. Peter ordered Menshikov to marry Peters sister. In future Alexashka became an outstanding organizer, political leader, profiteer and thief. Czar forgave him everything because of his unquestionable loyalty. Only in Russia such relationship could exist. Only Eastern man can tolerate Menshikov and gain from such a relationship. Menshikov was more gifted than Peter in everything accepts physical strength. While Alexashka was making money left and right on state contracts Peter was only receiving a salary of an admiral.
Menshikov understood perfectly the principles on which Peter’s reforms were conducted, and was the right hand of the tsar in all his gigantic undertakings. But he abused his omnipotent position, and his depredations frequently, brought him to the verge of ruin. Every time the tsar returned to Russia he received fresh accusations of peculation against ” his Serene Highness.” Peter’s first serious outburst of indignation (March 1711) was due to the prince’s looting in Poland. On his return to Russia in 1712, Peter discovered that Menshikov had winked at wholesale corruptions in his own governor-generalship. Peter warned him ” for the last time ” to change his ways. Yet, in 1713, he was implicated in the famous Solov’ey process, in the course of which it was demonstrated that he had defrauded the government of 100,000 roubles.1 He only owed his life on this occasion to a sudden illness. On his recovery Peter’s fondness for his friend overcame his sense of justice. In the last year of Peter’s reign fresh frauds and defalcations of Menshikov came to light, and he was obliged to appeal for protection to the empress Catherine. It was chiefly through the efforts of Menshikov and his colleague Tolstoi that, on the death of Peter, in 1725, Catherine was raised to the throne. Menshikov was committed to the Petrine system, and he recognized that, if that system were to continue, Catherine was, at that particular time, the only possible candidate. Her name was a watchword for the progressive faction. The placing of her on the throne meant a final victory over ancient prejudices, a vindication of the new ideas of progress. During her short reign (February 172 5-May 1727), Menshikov was practically absolute. On the whole he ruled well, his difficult position serving as some restraint upon his natural inclinations. He contrived to prolong his power after Catherine’s death by means of a forged will and a coup d’etat. While his colleague Tolstoi would have raised Elizabeth Petrovna to the throne, Menshikov set up the youthful Peter II., son of the tsarevich Alexius, with himself as dictator during the prince’s minority. He now aimed at -establishing himself definitely by marrying his daughter Mary to Peter II. But the old nobility, represented by the Dolgorukis and the Golitsuins, united to overthrow him, and he was deprived of all his dignities and offices and expelled from the capital (Sept. 9, 1727). Subsequently he was deprived of his enormous wealth, and he and his whole family were banished to Berezov in Siberia, where he died on the i2th of November 1729.
After Menshikov’s fall from grace, all his property was confiscated by the state.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765), Russian writer and polymath, who made important contributions to both literature, education and science.
Lomonosov was born on November 19, 1711, in the village of Denisovka (the name of which was afterwards changed in honour of the poet), situated on an island not far from Kholmo-gorl, in the government of Arkhangelsk. His father, a fisherman, took the boy when he was ten years of age to assist him in his calling; but the his eagerness for knowledge was unbounded. The few books accessible to him he almost learned by heart; and, seeing that there was no chance of pursuing education at home, he resolved to go to Moscow. An opportunity occurred when he was seventeen, and by the intervention of friends he obtained admission into the Zaikonospasski school. There his progress was very rapid, especially in Latin, and in 1734 he was sent from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. There again his proficiency, especially in physical science, was marked, and he was one of the young Russians chosen to complete their education in foreign countries. He accordingly commenced the study of metallurgy at Marburg, Germany; he also began to write poetry, imitating German authors, among whom he is said to have especially admired Gunther. His Ode on the Taking of Khotin from the Turks was composed in 1739, and attracted a great deal of attention at St. Petersburg. During his residence in Germany, Lomonosov married a native of that country, and found it difficult to maintain his increasing family on the scanty allowance granted to him by the St. Petersburg Academy, which, moreover, was irregularly sent. His circumstances became embarrassed, and he resolved to leave the country secretly and to return home. On his arrival in Russia he rapidly rose to distinction, and was made professor of chemistry in the University of St. Petersburg; where he ultimately became rector. Eager to improve Russian education, Lomonosov was engaged in founding the Moscow State University (later named after him) in 1755. In 1764 Lomonosov was appointed to the position of a secretary of state.
As a scientist Lomonosov rejected the phlogiston theory of matter commonly accepted at the time, and anticipated the kinetic theory of gases. He regarded heat as a form of motion, suggested the wave theory of light, and stated the idea of conservation of matter. Lomonosov was the first person to record the freezing of mercury, and to observe the atmosphere of Venus during a solar transit. In 1755 he wrote a grammar that reformed the Russian literary language by combining Old Church Slavonic with the vulgar tongue. He published the first history of Russia in 1760. Most of his accomplishments, however, were unknown outside Russia until long after his death. He died in St. Petersburg on April 15, 1765.
Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin
Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin was born in Moscow on May 26, 1799 (Old Style). In 1811 he was selected to be among the thirty students in the first class at the Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo . He attended the Lyceum from 1811 to 1817 and received the best education available in Russia at the time. He soon not only became the unofficial laureate of the Lyceum, but found a wider audience and recognition. He was first published in the journal The Messenger of Europe in 1814. In 1815 his poem “Recollections in Tsarskoe Selo” met the approval of Derzhavin, a great eighteenth-century poet, at a public examination in the Lyceum.
After graduating from the Lyceum, he was given a sinecure in the Collegium of Foreign Affairs in Petersburg. The next three years he spent mainly in carefree, light-hearted pursiut of pleasure. He was warmly received in literary circles; in circles of Guard-style lovers of wine, women, and song; and in groups where political liberals debated reforms and constitutions. Between 1817 and 1820 he reflected liberal views in “revolutionary” poems, his ode “Freedom,” “The Village,” and a number of poems on Aleksandr I and his minister Arakcheev. At the same time he was working on his first large-scale work, Ruslan and Liudmila.
In April 1820, his political poems led to an interrogation by the Petersburg governor-general and then to exile to South Russia, under the guise of an administrative transfer in the service. Pushkin left Petersburg for Ekaterinoslave on May 6, 1820. Soon after his arrival there he traveled around the Caucasus and the Crimea with the family of General Raevsky. During almost three years in Kishinev, Pushkin wrote his first Byronic verse tales, “The Prisoner of the Caucasus” (1820-1821), “The Bandit Brothers (1821- 1822), and “The Fountain of Bakhchisaray” (1821-1823). He also wrote “Gavriiliada” (1821), a light approach to the Annunciation, and he started his novel in verse, Eugene Onegin (1823-1831).
With the aid of influential friends, he was transferred in July 1823 to Odessa, where he engaged in theatre going, social outings, and love affairs with two married women. His literary creativeness also continued, as he completed “The Fountain of Bakhchisaray” and the first chapter of Eugene Onegin, and began “The Gypsies.” After postal officials intercepted a letter in which he wrote a thinly-veiled support of atheism, Pushkin was exiled to his mother’s estate of Mikhaylovskoe in north Russia.
The next two years, from August 1824 to August 1826 he spent at Mikhaylovskoe in exile and under surveillance. However unpleasant Pushkin my have found his virtual imprisonment in the village, he continued his literary productiveness there. During 1824 and 1825 at Mikhaylovskoe he finished “The Gypsies,” wrote Boris Godunov , “Graf Nulin” and the second chapter of Eugene Onegin.
When the Decembrist Uprising took place in Petersburg on December 14, 1825, Pushkin, still in Makhaylovskoe, was not a participant. But he soon learned that he was implicated, for all the Decembrists had copies of his early political poems. He destroyed his papers that might be dangerous for himself or others. In late spring of 1826, he sent the Tsar a petition that he be released from exile. After an investigation that showed Pushkin had been behaving himself, he was summoned to leave immediately for an audience with Nicholas I. On September 8, still grimy from the road, he was taken in to see Nicholas. At the end of the interview, Pushkin was jubliant that he was now released from exile and that Nicholas I had undertaken to be the personal censor of his works.
Pushkin thought that he would be free to travel as he wished, that he could freely participate in the publication of journals, and that he would be totally free of censorship, except in cases which he himself might consider questionable and wish to refer to his royal censor. He soon found out otherwise. Count Benkendorf, Chief of Gendarmes, let Pushkin know that without advance permission he was not to make any trip, participate in any journal, or publish — or even read in literary circles — any work. He gradually discovered that he had to account for every word and action, like a naughty child or a parolee. Several times he was questioned by the police about poems he had written.
The youthful Pushkin had been a light-hearted scoffer at the state of matrimony, but freed from exile, he spent the years from 1826 to his marriage in 1831 largely in search of a wife and in preparing to settle down. He sought no less than the most beautiful woman in Russia for his bride. In 1829 he found her in Natalia Goncharova, and presented a formal proposal in April of that year. She finally agreed to marry him on the condition that his ambiguous situation with the government be clarified, which it was. As a kind of wedding present, Pushkin was given permission to publish Boris Godunov — after four years of waiting for authorization — under his “own responsibility.” He was formally betrothed on May 6, 1830.
Financial arrangements in connection with his father’s wedding gift to him of half the estate of Kistenevo necessitated a visit to the neightboring estate of Boldino, in east-central Russia. When Pushkin arrived there in September 1830, he expected to remain only a few days; however, for three whole months he was held in quarantine by an epidemic of Asiatic cholera. These three months in Boldino turned out to be literarily the most productive of his life. During the last months of his exile at Mikhaylovskoe, he had completed Chapters V and VI of Eugene Onegin, but in the four subsequent years he had written, of major works, only “Poltava”(1828), his unfinished novel The Blackamoor of Peter the Great (1827) and Chapter VII of Eugene Onegin (1827-1828). During the autumn at Boldino, Pushkin wrote the five short stories of The Tales of Belkin; the verse tale “The Little House in Kolomna;” his little tragedies, “The Avaricious Knight,” “Mozart and Salieri;” “The Stone Guest;” and ” Feast in the Time of the Plague;” “The Tale of the Priest and His Workman Balda,” the first of his fairy tales in verse; the last chapter of Eugene Onegin; and “The Devils,” among other lyrics.
Pushkin was married to Natalia Goncharova on February 18, 1831, in Moscow. In May, after a honeymoon made disagreeable by “Moscow aunties” and in-laws, the Pushkins moved to Tsarskoe Selo, in order to live near the capital, but inexpensively and in “inspirational solitude and in the circle of sweet recollections.” These expectations were defeated when the cholera epidemic in Petersburg caused the Tsar and the court to take refuge in July in Tsarskoe Selo. In October 1831 the Pushkins moved to an apartment in Petersburg, where they lived for the remainder of his life. He and his wife became henceforth inextricably involved with favors from the Tsar and with court society. Mme. Pushkina’s beauty immediately made a sensation in society, and her admirers included the Tsar himself. On December 30, 1833, Nicholas I made Pushkin a Kammerjunker, an intermediate court rank usually granted at the time to youths of high aristocratic families. Pushkin was deeply offended, all the more because he was convinced that it was conferred, not for any quality of his own, but only to make it proper for the beautiful Mme. Pushkina to attend court balls. Dancing at one of these balls was followed in March 1834 by her having a miscarriage. While she was convalescing in the provinces, Pushkin spoke openly in letters to her of his indignation and humiliation. The letters were intercepted and sent to the police and to the Tsar. When Pushkin discovered this, in fury he submitted his resignation from the service on June 25, 1834. However, he had reason to fear the worst from the Tsar’s displeasure at this action, and he felt obliged to retract his resignation.
Pushkin could ill afford the expense of gowns for Mme. Pushkina for court balls or the time required for performing court duties. His woes further increased when her two unmarried sisters came in autumn 1834 to live henceforth with them. In addition, in the spring of 1834 he had taken over the management of his improvident father’s estate and had undertaken to settle the debts of his heedless brother. The result was endless cares, annoyances, and even outlays from his own pocket. He came to be in such financial straits that he applied for a leave of absence to retire to the country for three or four years, or if that were refused, for a substatial sum as loan to cover his most pressing debts and for the permission to publish a journal. The leave of absence was brusquely refused, but a loan of thirty thousand rubles was, after some trouble, negotiated; permission to publish, beginning in 1836, a quarterly literary journal, The Contemporary, was finally granted as well. The journal was not a financial success, and it involved him in endless editoral and financial cares and in difficulties with the censors, for it gave importantly placed enemies among them the opportunity to pay him off. Short visits to the country in 1834 and 1835 resulted in the completion of only one major work, “The Tale of the Golden Cockerel”(1834), and during 1836 he only completed his novel on Pugachev, The Captain’s Daughter, and a number of his finest lyrics.
Meanwhile, Mme. Pushkina loved the attention which her beauty attracted in the highest society; she was fond of “coquetting” and of being surrounded by admirers, who included the Tsar himself. In 1834 Mme. Pushkina met a young man who was not content with coquetry, a handsome French royalist emigre in Russian service, who was adopted by the Dutch ambassador, Heeckeren. Young d’Anthes-Heeckeren pursued Mme. Pushkina for two years, and finally so openly and unabashedly that by autumn 1836, it was becoming a scandal. On November 4, 1836 Pushkin received several copies of a “certificate” nominating him “Coadjutor of the International Order of Cuckolds.” Pushkin immediately challenged d’Anthes; at the same time, he made desperate efforts to settle his indebtedness to the Treasury. Pushkin twice allowed postponements of the duel, and then retracted the challenge when he learned “from public rumour” that d’Anthes was “really” in love with Mme. Pushkina’s sister, Ekaterina Goncharova. On January 10, 1837, the marriage took place, contrary to Pushkin’s expectations. Pushkin refused to attend the wedding or to receive the couple in his home, but in society d’Anthes pursued Mme. Pushkina even more openly. Then d’Anthes arranged a meeting with her, by persuading her friend Idalia Poletika to invite Mme. Pushkina for a visit; Mme. Poletika left the two alone, but one of her children came in, and Mme. Pushkina managed to get away. Upon hearing of this meeting, Pushkin sent an insulting letter to old Heeckeren, accusing him of being the author of the “certificate” of November 4 and the “pander” of his “bastard.” A duel with d’Anthes took place on January 27, 1837. D’Anthes fired first, and Pushkin was mortally wounded; after he fell, he summoned the strength to fire his shot and to wound, slightly, his adversary. Pushkin died two days later, on January 29.
As Pushkin lay dying, and after his death, except for a few friends, court society sympathized with d’Anthes, but thousands of people of all other social levels came to Pushkin’s apartment to express sympathy and to mourn. The government obviously feared a political demonstration. To prevent public display, the funeral was shifted from St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the small Royal Stables Church, with admission by ticket only to members of the court and diplomatic society. And then his body was sent away, in secret and at midnight. He was buried beside his mother at dawn on February 6, 1837 at Svyatye Gory Monastery, near Mikhaylovskoe.
One of Russia’s greatest writers, Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in 1821 in Moscow but spent most of his adult life in St-Petersburg , where many of his novels and short stories are set. He graduated from the Guards Corps of Engineers in St.Petersburg. A defining moment in his life occurred in 1849 when he was arrested and charged with revolutionary conspiracy. After eight month’s of solitary confinement in the Peter and Paul Fortress Dostoevsky and 21 other “conspirators” from the socialist Petrashevsky Circle were subjected to a macabre mock execution before being to hard labour in Siberia until 1859.The sinister experience is recalled in his novel The Idiot(1868). The novelist Dostoevsky lived for many years among the slum of Sennaya Ploschad which provided the setting for his greatest work, Crime and Punishment. In his last years gambling and debts confined him to a fairly modest lifestyle in the five-roomed apartment. Although Dostoevsky’s public persona was dour and humourless, he was a devoted and affectionate husband and father. He used to read aloud fairy tales to his children. He died in 1765.
SERGEY ESENIN (1895-1925)
Esenin was born on 21 September in Konstantinovo village of Ryazan province. He attended the village school from 1904 to 1909, and the Spas-Klepiki church boarding school from 1909 to 1912. During this period he started to write poetry seriously. At the age of seventeen he moved to Moscow and worked for a year in Sytin’s printing house. In Moscow Esenin joined a group of peasant and proletarian poets, the “Surikov” circle. Occasionally he attended lectures at Shaniavskii University as external student and studied there 1,5 years. In 1913-15 he lived with Anna Izriadnova; they had one son. In 1917 he married Zinaida Raikh; they had one daughter and one son.
Esenin’s first verse were published in the Moscow journal Mirok in 1914. He moved to Petrograd in 1915 where he began to achieve fame in the literary salons. There he met Aleksandr Blok, Sergei Gorodetskii and the peasant poet Nikolai Kliuev, with whom he formed a close friendship. Esenin left work and devoted himself to poetical activity. Many of his poems turn to the traditions of Russian folklore.
Later in his autobiography Esenin wrote : “Belyi gave me the meaning of form and Blok and Klyuev taught me lyricism”.
His first publications were accomplished in such magazines as “Russkaya Mysl’ (A Russian Thought”), “Zhizn’ dlya vsekh” (Life for Everyone), “Ezhemesyachnyi Zhurnal” (Monthly Magazine). November 1915 was the date of his first poetic book (“Radunitsa”) issue. In 1916-17 Esenin was in military service in Tsarskoe Selo but deserted from the army after the 1917 February Revolution. He returned to Moscow in 1918. Esenin hoped that the Revolution would lead to a better life for the peasantry, a new age, of which he crystallized his visions in Inoniya (1918). Later, in ‘The Stern October Has Deceived Me’, Esenin revealed his disappointment with the Bolsheviks. By the 1920 Esenin realized that he was “the last poet of the village”. The long poetic drama Pugachyov (1922) was influenced the spirit of the time and glorified the 18th-century rebellious peasant leader. Confessions of a Hooligan (1921) revealed another side of Esenin’s personality – provocative, vulgar, wounded, anguished. ‘The Black Man’ is considered Esenin’s most ruthless analysis of his failures and alcoholic hallucinations.
After divorce in 1921, Esenin married in 1922 the famous American dancer Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), they separated but not divorced in 1924. He followed her on tour to western Europe and the United States in 1922-23. Isadora herself did not fascinate Esenin, but her fame. When he watched her devouring cold roast mutton, Esenin lost completely his own appetite. Their journey abroad was a disaster for Esenin, who wished that his poetry would be well-received. “Only abroad,” wrote Esenin, “did I understand how great are the merits of the Russian Revolution which has saved the world from a horrible spirit of philistinism.” From America Esenin did not find anything good but the fox-trot dance. In 1923 he returned to Russia, suffering from depression and hallucinations. During the journey Esenin became an alcoholic, and his determination to end his life turned manic: he threw himself in front of a local train, tried to jump from a window of a 5 store building, and hurt himself with a kitchen knife. In the cycle ‘Liubov’ khuligana’ (1923) he took distance to his earlier anarchism, and relied on the healing power of love. Some of his most celebrated lyrics – addressed to his family and village – belong to this period. In these works Esenin’s major theme was hopelessness. He used straightforward language, without the ornaments of his imaginist lyrics.
During his last years Esenin became increasingly depressed and alcoholic. In 1922 he wrote: “It’s prostitutes I read my poems to, / Bandits I toast in burning alcohol.” His favorite caf was “Pegasus Stall”, the meeting place of Imaginist poets. Some of the verses in Moskva kabatskaia (1924, Moscow of the taverns) were written abroad, but most of the poems dealt with his bohemian life in taverns, prostitutes, crooks, and other social outcasts seeking consolation from alcohol and day dreams. Its concluding poem, ‘I will not weep, regret or scold …’ has been praised as one of the greatest ever written in Russian. In 1924 he wrote also poems about the new society and revolution, and praised Lenin in Strana Sovetskaia (1925). However, as a poet of the Revolution, he never gained such fame as Maiakovskii, with whom he also quarreled.
Esenin broke with the Imaginists in 1924, and traveled in the Caucaus 1924-25. From this journey he produced the collection Persidskie motivy (1925). In 1925 he married Sof’ia Tolstaia, a granddaughter of Lev Tolstoy; the marriage was unhappy. Esenin also had a son in 1924 from a relationship with Nadezhda Vol’pin. He wrote poems during the one hour before dinner, when he was still “a human being”, “I still feel that I remain the poet / Of the timber cottages of yore,” Esenin said in 1925. In the late 1925 Esenin spent some time in a hospital for a nervous breakdown. He had left his wife and went to Leningrad, where he hanged himself in the Hotel d’Angleterre, on December 28, 1925. Before his death, Esenin slashed his wrists and wrote with his own blood his farewell in ‘Do svidan’ia, drug moi, do svidan’ia’: “In this life it is not new to die, / but neither it is new to be alive.” Esenin used blood because the ink bottle in the room was dry. Communist authorities, who had viewed with suspicion Esenin’s poetry and individualism – “hooliganism” – considered his work in conflict with the doctrines of the Socialist realism, and banned his books. Esenin was out of favor until after World War II. From the 1960s his poems have been reprinted in several collections.
Esenin is a dainty lyric, he can express all the nuances of human being soul and mood very skillfully. The “peasant” theme in his creative activity became the theme of national fates, the character of village in his interpretation became the character of Fatherland. Sergey Esenin’s works are the part of Russian poetry golden fund.
Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky
Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840. Unlike the families of some other famous composers, the Tchaikovsky family members were not particularly noteworthy, either for their abilities or for their interest in music.Tcahaikovsky mother, Alexandra, was Ilya Petrovich’s second wife . He had married her when she was 20 years old, after the death of his first wife . It was Alexandra who was responsible for bringing music into the life of Tchaikovsky family.
Tchaikovsky adored his mother all his life, he was haunted by the memory of her large and beautiful hands. Sadly for Tchaikovsky, Alexandra proved to be a rather cold and distant woman . She was self-absorbed, concerned about her position in society and not given to hugs and kisses or other physical shows of affection to her children. She hated life in the small town and wanted only to return to Petersburg.
In 1843, inspired by her love of French culture, Tchaikovsky’s mother hired a governess to assist with the children’s education. Fanny Durback, a 22-year-old French Protestant, was to become a major influence in the life of the young composer. She recognized his sensitivity and giftedness, calling him “unenfantdeverre” (child of glass ). Fanny recalled that as a child, Peter’s clothes “were always in disorder. Either he had stained them in his absentmindedness, or buttons were missing, or his hair was only half-brushed. ” She exercised a wholesome and calming influence on him, although she worried that the obsession with music that he showed at such an early age was unhealthy. She preferred that he read books or listen to stories. Peter was a soft-hearted child. One day he disappeared from home and nobody could find him. It turned out he’d been going from door to door in town, trying to find a home for the last kitten in a litter born to a cat belonging to one of his father’s serfs. It was at this time too that his strong love for all Russian things began to appear. When he was only three years old, Tchaikovsky began to show a strong interest in music. “I started to compose as soon as I knew what music was, “he once said. In fact he did produce his first composition when he was only four years old, with some help from his two-year-old sister Alexandra (Sasha). Their little song was called Our Mama in St.Petersburg. And then one day Ilya Petrovich, Peter’s father, brought home an orchestrion. An orchestrion was a type of barrel organ with a large number of pipes of various lengths and sizes designed to represent the instruments of an orchestra. The Tchaikovsky family’s orchestrion could play airs from Bellini, Donizetti. Weber, Rossini and Mozart, in particular highlights from Mozart’s great opera Don Giovanni. Peter felt that he “owed his first musical impressions to this instrument.” He was particularly fond of DonGiovanni. By the time he was six, Peter had got into the habit of rushing from the orchestrion to the piano and picking out the tunes he had heard with increasing skill. Once when Peter’s parents entertained a Polish pianist who gave a concert for the guests. Peter insisted on sitting at the piano, and played from memory the two Chopin mazurkas the pianist had performed. The Polish pianist complimented the little boy, calling him a “promising musician.” On another occasion, Peter fled from the room, much to the surprise of Fanny and his parents who thought Peter would be pleased at having been allowed to stay up late. Two hours later, when Fanny checked on him, she found him sprawled on his bed, still fully dressed, weeping hysterically, “Oh, the music, the music!” he sobbed. “Save me from it, Fanny, save me! It’s here:in here!”- he struck his forehead-“and it won’t leave me in peace.” Music resonated in his head. Throughout the house, he would drum his fingers on whatever surface was at hand, reflecting the tunes that he “heard.” On one occasion when Fanny Durback complained about the noise he was making, he drummed instead on a nearby windowpane so animatedly that finally his hand crashed through the glass and was badly cut. Peter’s parents hired a piano teacher for him, but soon he was beyond any thing she could teach him. In the meantime, knowing his wife was dissatisfied with life ,IlyaPetrovic resigned his comfortable position and moved the family to Moscow ,having heard about a job there that would suit him. However, the move proved to be disastrous. Once they arrived ,IlyaPetrovich discovered that a former friend had rushed to Moscow ahead of him and taken the job. The family’s entire fortune disappeared and they had to economize .One of the first things to happen was the dismissal of Fanny. She was spirited out of the house in the middle of the night, without saying goodbye, so as not to upset Peter. In November 1848, the family moved to St.Petersburg. Peter and his older brother Nikolay were enrolled in the fashionable Schmelling School, which Peter hated. The school was very hard on the boys. Peter left home at 8 each morning, not returning until after 5, and often staying up until after midnight to finish his homework. Viewed as country bumpkins, the brothers were bullied mercilessly by the other students. Then he developed measles and was very ill for weeks. Later Peter 10 year old was sent to a preparatory school for entry into the School of Jurisprudence in St.Petersburg.
In 1852 he passed his exams for the School of Jurisprudence. And so following his graduation in 1855, Peter became a clerk in the Ministry of Justice. By 1861, Tchaikovsky turned his attention once more to music. He enrolled in Russian Musical Society and became a full-time student of music.
In 1865 Tchaikovsky graduated from the Conservatory and went on to compose his world-famous operas, symphonies and ballets. Among them are Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker Suite, 1812 Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1, Pathetique Symphony, Fourth Symphony, Sixth Symphony, Eugene Onegin.
He died shortly after completion of his Pathetique Symphony in November 1893. Officially he was supposed to have died of cholera, but it is commonly believed that he committed suicide, due to pressure from Conservatory colleagues wishing to avoid a scandal after Tchaikovsky’s alleged homosexual affair.
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