The Russian Court Chapel Choir, 1796-1917

Ritchie, Carolyn Cairns (1994) The Russian Court Chapel Choir, 1796-1917. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The Russian Court Chapel Choir: 1796-1917. Throughout the nineteenth century the Russian Court Chapel Choir - the Court Kapella - with its rich, sonorous voices, virtuosic technique and strict discipline, enjoyed an enviable reputation. Its singers performed not only in liturgical services and official state ceremonies in the imperial churches, but also played an active role in the musical life of St. Petersburg outwith the court. The music school within the Kapella provided the singers with an excellent choral training as well as tuition in instrumental performance, harmony, orchestration and composition; indeed, until the second half of the nineteenth century it was the only Institution to offer this level of musical education. The Court Kapella also played a vital role in the publication of music for the Orthodox Church at this time: from 1816 the director of the Kapella had the power to authorize or prohibit every edition, performance and publication of sacred music in Russia and, as a result, could significantly influence the development of sacred music. This study deals with the period from 1796, the year in which Dmitry Bortnyansky was appointed director of the Kapella, until 1917 when the institution underwent such radical reorganization as to render it almost unrecognisable. The study is divided into three sections: the first deals with the structural organization of the Kapella as an educational establishment and focuses particularly on the development of the curriculum under a changing directorate; the second deals with the structure of the liturgy used in the Russian Orthodox Church and the emergence and development of harmonized court chant; the third deals with the development of sacred vocal music in Russia during the period 1796-1917, and is Illustrated by an examination of the music composed specifically for the use of the Court Kapella and its relationship with the liturgy which it enhanced. Despite the wealth of documentation concerning the Court Kapella held in the archives of the Ministry of the Imperial Court in the State Historical Archive in St. Petersburg, there is no detailed study of this extremely complex subject which is of such great relevance to so many aspects of Russian musical life. Many of the most influential figures of the time were closely involved with the Kapella - for example Glinka, Balakirev, and Rimsky-Korsakov - but little research has been done on this area of their work. The educational importance of the institution has always been overshadowed by the achievements of the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, and the consequences of the monopoly exerted by the Kapella in the area of music publication have never been investigated. A survey of this topic is essential not only for our understanding of the inestimable wealth of Russian sacred music, but also for a comprehensive view of Russian musical life at this time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Music history
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-74981
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 14:47
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 14:47
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74981

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