The musical works discussed in the various sections of the site are listed in the table below. You can either download them as mp3 files or listen to them directly (depending on your computer's settings) by clicking on the symbol Click to download or listen! where it is shown next to the title of a work. Alternatively, you can use the XPSF Web Music Player above to select and hear the required recording. If the latter is an extract from an opera or a song, you can read the words (Russian and English parallel text) by clicking on the RTF icon in the table below.
Composer Work Performer(s) Length
(min: s)
Size of
mp3 file (Mb)
Text
(if applicable)
Notes
Beethoven Click here for the allegro of Beethoven's «Appassionata»! First movement (allegro) of Piano Sonata No. 23 in F-minor, Op. 57 Appassionata Wilhelm Backhaus 9:30 8.71 Turgenev describes the impression which the opening of this sonata made on him as a young man in his story The Unfortunate One (1869).
Glinka Click here for Susanin's aria! Ivan Susanin's aria: "My dawn will soon rise!" from Act IV of A Life for the Tsar (1836) Evgeny Nesterenko; Bolshoi Theatre 4:58 4.55 Click here to read the text of Susanin's aria and recitative! Turgenev was at the première of A Life for the Tsar on 9 December 1836, at which Osip Petrov sang the very demanding role of Ivan Susanin.
Glinka Click to hear the «Slavsya» chorus from «A Life for the Tsar» The final chorus from A Life for the Tsar: "Glory, glory, our Russian tsar!" Bolshoi Theatre Chorus 4:29 4.11 Click here to read the text of the final chorus in the epilogue to «A Life for the Tsar»! When this chorus was performed during a Russian concert at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1878, Turgenev was moved to tears. It is worth noting that since the recording presented here is from a Soviet production of the opera (which in Soviet times was renamed Ivan Susanin), the text sung by the chorus here is slightly different from the original libretto: it is not the "Russian tsar" who is praised but "our Russian land" instead.
Glinka Click to listen to the «Ruslan» overture! The overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842) BBC Philharmonic, cond. Yan Pascal Tortelier 5:23 5.01 With its liveliness and variety of themes this overture is a small masterpiece!
Glinka Click here to listen to Ratmir's aria! Aria of the Khazar prince Ratmir: "She is my life, she is my joy!" (from Act V of Ruslan) Larisa Dyadkova; Mariinsky Theatre 7:12 6.60 Click here to read the text of Ratmir's aria! Pauline Viardot liked this aria and would sing it at private performances. That she was drawn to this aria is not surprising, since its oriental flourishes are quite similar to flamenco song (Glinka had visited Spain and admired Spanish folk music)
Glinka Click here to listen to the finale of «Ruslan»! The final scene from Ruslan and Lyudmila, beginning with Ruslan's return to Kiev with the magic ring: "Joy, bright happiness!" Ruslan—Vladimir Ognovenko; Lyudmila—Anna Netrebko; Gorislava—Galina Gorchakova; Ratmir—Larisa Dyadkova; Mariinsky Theatre (1996), cond. Valery Gergiev 8:31 7.80 Click here to read the text of the finale to «Ruslan»! In a letter of 1871 Turgenev described this finale as "very beautiful, original, and poetic". Lyudmila's awakening from her trance is indeed accompanied by a very beautiful melody. In the chorus at the end we hear again the triumphant theme from the overture.
Dargomyzhsky Click here to listen to an extract from «The Stone Guest»! End of the first scene of The Stone Guest (1872) Don Juan—Nikolai Vasiliev; Leporello—Vyacheslav Pochapsky; Monk—Boris Beiko; Bolshoi Theatre (1995), cond. Andrei Chistyakov 4:34 4.19 Click here to read the text of this scene from «The Stone Guest»! Turgenev spoke of Dargomyzhsky's "insipid and colourless" recitatives with the greatest revulsion, even though he never really heard the opera performed properly.
Dargomyzhsky Click here to listen to the Prelude to «The Stone Guest»! Prelude to The Stone Guest. From the same production 2:00 1.83 The Prelude was added by Rimsky-Korsakov after Dargomyzhsky's death and includes the principal themes from the piano score. Soon after the first bars, for example, there appears that solemn and humorous theme by which Dargomyzhsky sought to convey the strange mixture of piety and frivolity in Doña Anna.
Dargomyzhsky Click here to listen to Laura's song! The second song of the actress Laura in The Stone Guest, to the verses of Pushkin's 'Spanish' poem: "I am here, Inesilla" (1830) Laura—Tatyana Erastova; from the same production  3:45 3.43 Click here to read the text of Laura's song! Here Dargomyzhsky made use of the famous theme from Glinka's Spanish overture: Jota aragonesa.
Balakirev Click here to listen to «Islamey»! The oriental fantasy for piano Islamey (1869) Efim Bronfman 8:44 8.00 Although Turgenev once commented ironically on Balakirev's technique as a performer, the latter was generally recognised as an excellent pianist, and if he was able to play his own Islamey (one of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire), then that is in itself enough to prove the unfairness of Turgenev's remarks in this case. Even Franz Liszt, the greatest virtuoso of his age, had some trouble mastering this piece, but he liked it very much.
Rimsky-Korsakov Click here to listen to the overture! The overture to The Maid of Pskov (1873) BBC Philharmonic, cond. Vasily Sinaisky 7:11 6.58 After the overture's sombre opening there comes a lyrical theme, which is associated with Olga, the illegitimate daughter of Ivan the Terrible.
Rimsky-Korsakov Click here to listen to the sea music from the 5th tableau of «Sadko»! Sea music from the 5th tableau of Sadko (1897). The first section is entitled "Ocean—blue sea" Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, cond. Yuri Simonov 3:50 3.51 Turgenev never heard the symphonic tableau Sadko (1867) performed in the concert hall, but he did like those excerpts from the piano arrangement which he heard Balakirev play at a soirée in March 1871.
Rimsky-Korsakov Click here to listen to the song of the Indian Merchant! The song of the Indian Merchant from the 4th tableau of the opera Sadko: "Countless are the diamonds in the rocky caves..." Lev Kuznetsov; Bolshoi Theatre (1980) 4:02 3.70 Click here to read the text of the Indian Merchant's song! Turgenev died almost fifteen years before Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Sadko was staged. The Song of the Indian Merchant is one of its most famous numbers.
Borodin Click here to listen to the 1st movement of this symphony! The first movement of his Symphony No. 2 in B-minor, Оp. 5, known as the Bogatyrskayа (1876) Russian State Symphony Orchestra, cond. Evgeny Svetlanov 9:10 8.40 Turgenev wrote personally to Borodin in 1877 to tell him of the great impression which the Bogatyrskaya had made on everyone in the Viardot household. Turgenev had brought the piano arrangement of the symphony with him to Paris after a visit to Russia.
Borodin Click here to listen to «In the Steppes of Central Asia»! The symphonic tableau In the Steppes of Central Asia (1880). Kirov Theatre Orchestra, cond. Valery Gergiev 7:43 7.06 When this work was performed under the baton of Rimsky-Korsakov as part of the Russian Concerts in Paris in 1899, it had a great success with the audience.
Borodin Click here to listen to the Notturno from Borodin's 2nd String Quartet The 3rd movement (Notturno: Andante) of String Quartet No. 2 (1881) Takacs Quartet 7:09 6.54 Turgenev never had the chance to listen to this wonderful quartet, which would undoubtedly have appealed to him, given his love of chamber music.
Borodin Click here to listen to the overture! The overture to Prince Igor (1890). After the composer's death, the overture was orchestrated by Glazunov. Kirov Theatre Orchestra, cond. Valery Gergiev 10:19 9.45 Borodin did not get round to writing down the overture to his epic opera, but, fortunately, Glazunov had heard him play it on the piano many times and was able to put it to paper from memory and orchestrate it.
Borodin Click here to listen to the Polovtsian Dances! Scene from Act II of Prince Igor including the Polovtsian Dances Chorus and orchestra of the Kirov Theatre (1969 film) 5:39 5.17 Click here to read the text of the chorus during the Polovtsian dances! Unlike most other parts of the opera, the world-famous Polovtsian Dances were actually performed in Borodin's own lifetime because with the encouragement and help of Rimsky-Korsakov and Anatoly Lyadov he orchestrated them for a concert of the Free Music School in 1879.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to this scene! Extract from the 2nd scene of the Prologue to Boris Godunov (1874), in which the Russian people hail Boris after his coronation as Tsar! Bolshoi Theatre Chorus and Orchestra (1954 film) 2:30 2.29 Click here to read the text of the first part of the coronation scene! Before the ringing of the Kremlin bells in honour of the newly-crowned Tsar we can already hear the sinister chiming clock motif of Boris's tormented conscience which will return with such force in his great aria. But here it is drowned by the rejoicing of the Russian people, so full of hope that the new Tsar will improve their lot.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to the recitative of the chronicler Pimen! Recitative of the chronicler-monk Pimen at the beginning of Act I of Boris: "One more chapter, the final one..." Pimen — Maksim Mikhailov (1954 film) 3:00 2.75 Click here to read the text of Pimen's recitative! It is very likely that Turgenev heard the veteran bass Osip Petrov perform this moving recitative by the monk Pimen on the value of writing for posterity (taken straight from Pushkin's play) when he visited the singer's house on 3 June 1874.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to Varlaam's song! Varlaam's song about Ivan the Terrible's capture of Kazan, from the tavern scene in Act II of Boris Varlaam — Aleksei Krivchenya (1954 film) 1:48 1.64 Click here to read the text of Varlaam's wild song! From Turgenev's letter of 3 June 1874 to Pauline Viardot we do know for sure that he heard Petrov sing the drunkard Varlaam's wild song.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to part of the scene between Shuisky and Boris! Part of the scene in the Tsar's chambers where the boyar Shuisky, at Boris's request, confirms that the child who was killed back then really was the Tsarevich Dimitri. There then follows the famous scene in which Boris thinks that he sees the spectre of the murdered child and is filled with dread. Boris—Alexander Pirogov; Shuisky—Nikandr Khanaev (1954 film) 6:54 6.33 Click here to read the text of the scene with Shuisky and that of Boris's hallucination! This scene is included here to show a certain affinity between the work of Musorgsky and the "cruel talent" of Dostoevsky, an author whom Turgenev did not at all find congenial.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to the duet between Marina and the False Dimitry! The duet between Marina and the False Dimitry by the fountain in Sandomir. The Pretender—Georgi Nelepp; Marina—Larisa Avdeyeva (1954 film) 6:57 6.37 Click here to read the text of the duet between Marina and the Pretender! This remarkable duet, which reveals Marina's haughtiness and ambition, nevertheless finishes with a melody of truly inspired beauty: "O, Tsarevich, I implore you!". Even a critic so hostile to the "Mighty Handful" as Herman Laroche was full of praise for it.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to part of the scene near the porch to St Basil's Cathedral Scene with the Holy Fool on the square near the porch to St Basil's Cathedral, from which Tsar Boris will soon emerge with a procession of boyars. Holy Fool — Ivan Kozlovsky (1954 film) 5:47 5.30 Click here to read the text of the scene with the Holy Fool! This scene is also included here as another example of the affinity between Musorgsky and Dostoevsky. Turgenev himself once portrayed a Holy Fool—in A Strange Story (1870)—but there the portrayal is quite negative, which can perhaps be explained by the writer's sceptical attitude towards Orthodox religiosity.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to the overture to «Khovanschina»! Introduction to Khovanschina. In Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration, the opera was premièred in 1886, five years after Musorgsky's death. Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, cond. Evgeny Svetlanov 4:55 4.50 This remarkably picturesque overture is entitled "Dawn over the Moscow River" and it is built on the pattern of variations on a constant lyrical theme which Musorgsky had been able to observe in Glinka's music, as well as in Russian folk songs. Turgenev was fortunate to hear this overture in Osip Petrov's house on 3 June 1874—albeit played only on a piano by Musorgsky himself. It caused Turgenev to believe in the future of Russian music.
Musorgsky Click here to listen to the scene with Dosifei! Extract of the first scene of Khovanschina in which Dosifei, the venerable leader of the raskolniki (Old Believers), bemoans the sinfulness of the Khovanskys and their followers: "Stop! Why are you raging as if possessed by demons?" Mark Reizen; Bolshoi Theatre (1959 film) 6:52 6.29 Click here to read the text of the scene in which Dosifei makes his first appearance! Significantly, Turgenev was also interested in the causes of the schismatic movement and touched upon this subject several times in his works (at one point he was even considering writing a novel about the same historical events which lie at the heart of Khovanschina ). He would therefore have been fascinated by Musorgsky's plans for his new opera, which he found out about in 1874.
Tchaikovsky Click here for Mignon's song! The romance "None but the lonely heart", Op. 6:6, to one of Mignon's songs in Goethe's Wilhelm Meister Elisabeth Söderström (sopr.) / Roger Vignoles (piano) 3:04 2.81 Click here to read the text of Tchaikovsky's song! This romance was one of Pauline Viardot's favourites, and it plays an important role in Turgenev's last published short story, Klara Milich (After Death) (1883).
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the 1st part (exposition) of the «Romeo and Juliet» overture! The first part (exposition) of the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet (the 1st version was premièred in 1870) Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Edouard van Beinum 11:01 10.00 When Turgenev found out in Paris, in 1874, about the existence of this overture, he was greatly interested and asked a friend in Russia to send him the piano arrangement. After he had heard this with the help of Pauline Viardot, he said that the overture was not as good as everyone had been saying (especially in Germany where it was very popular). However, this criticism was probably due to the fact that the overture cannot produce its full effect on the piano alone. At Balakirev's request, Tchaikovsky would later rework the overture. The final version (from which the recording included here was made) was first performed in 1886.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the «Sérénade mélancolique»! Sérénade mélancolique, Op. 26, for violin and orchestra (1875). Arthur Grumiaux (sol.) / New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Edo de Waart 8:41 7.95 Turgenev heard this work performed at one of the Russian Concerts in Paris during the World Exhibition of 1878, and he ordered the score from Russia (probably as a present for Pauline Viardot's son Paul, who was an accomplished violinist).
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the overture to «Eugene Onegin»! The overture to Eugene Onegin (1879) Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, cond. Boris Khaikin (1958 film) 1:51 1.69 Turgenev, who attended one of the final rehearsals for the première of Eugene Onegin in March 1879, wrote enthusiastically about the "poetry" and "vividness" of its music!
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the first peasants' chorus! The first peasants' chorus from Eugene Onegin: "My swift legs hurt" Bolshoi Theatre Chorus (1958 film) 1:51 1.69 Click here to read the text of the peasants' song! This typically sad but hearty 'extended song' of the peasants and the merry round dance which follows it were among the few numbers of the opera which awoke general applause during the première at the Moscow Maly Theatre on 29 March 1879.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the scene in the garden and Lensky's arioso! The scene in the garden: "I am so happy!" and Lensky's arioso: "I love you" from Act I of Eugene Onegin Lensky—Anton Grigoriev; Olga—Larisa Avdeyeva; Tatyana—Galina Vishnevskaya; Onegin—Evgeny Kibkalo (1958 film) 4:48 4.40 Click here to read the text of the scene in the garden and Lensky's arioso! Tatyana's theme appears again with touching sincerity when she replies to Onegin: "Dreaming has been my pastime / ever since my childhood days". Lensky's arioso is full of youthful ardour.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to Tatyana's Letter Scene! Tatyana's Letter Scene from Act I of Eugene Onegin: "May I perish; but first..." Galina Vishnevskaya (1958 film) 8:19 7.61 Click here to read the text of Tatyana's Letter Scene! Turgenev was impressed by the stirring performance which the young Maria Klimenteva, then still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, gave of this wondrous scene.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to Lensky's arioso and the end of Act 2! Lensky's arioso: "In your house!" after his challenge to Onegin, and the conclusion of Act II Lensky—Anton Grigoriev; Onegin—Evgeny Kibkalo; Tatyana—Galina Vishnevskaya; Olga—Larisa Avdeyeva (1958 film) 4:22 4.01 Click here to read the text of Lensky's arioso and the finale of Act 2! Even though Tchaikovsky, in a letter of 27 May 1877 to Nadezhda von Meck, explained that his opera "would of course be without any strong dramatic action", the finale to Act II is very dramatic and effective, with Lensky's memories of his happy childhood suspending the relentless dénouement for a few moments.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to Lensky's aria! Lensky's aria before his duel with Onegin: "Where, where, oh, where have you gone" Anton Grigoriev (1958 film) 6:15 5.73 Click here to read the text of Lensky's aria! In this sad aria Lensky seems to resign himself to his imminent death.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the final duet between Tatyana and Onegin The final duet between Onegin and Tatyana: "Onegin, I was younger then" Onegin—Evgeny Kibkalo; Tatyana—Galina Vishnevskaya (1958 film) 7:51 7.20 Click here to read the text of the final scene! When Tatyana in this highly dramatic duet sings: "Onegin, your heart is both noble and honest!" the orchestra goes over briefly, but very markedly, into the more passionate key of the Letter Scene.
Tchaikovsky Click here to listen to the romance «Amid the noise of the ball» The romance "Amid the noise of the ball", Op. 38: 3 (1878), to a poem by Aleksei Tolstoi Mark Reizen (bass) / pianist unknown 2:34 2.35 Click here to read the text of the romance: «Amid the noise of the ball»! Turgenev was struck by the beauty and passion of this romance when he heard it performed in Saint Petersburg in the spring of 1880.
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