Turgenev in a portrait of 1872 by Vasily Perov
Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883)

On this site you can read about the great Russian writer Ivan Turgenev (1818-83) and his thoughts on the development of music in Russia. In the various sections of this site you will find extracts from Turgenev's works and wide-ranging correspondence, as well as from memoirs about him by contemporaries. These illustrate how sensitive his appreciation of music was, and how there was nothing that he wished more than that Russia should develop a classical musical heritage as valuable as that of Germany or Italy, but at the same time one that was truly Russian and original. Amongst other things, you can read about how at first he did not approve of the tendencies of the new Russian school of music (or the "Mighty Handful", as it famously came to be known), but how his attitude drastically changed in 1874, after he heard some scenes from Modest Musorgsky's two historic operas Boris Godunov and Khovanschina at a specially arranged private concert in the house of the veteran bass Osip Petrov... On this site you will also have the opportunity to listen to recordings of these scenes, as well as of other works of Russian music which attracted Turgenev's attention (in the text they are marked with the symbol This symbol indicates that you can listen to the work of music being discussed!). For, despite his long absences from Russia—to which he was fated by his life-long devotion to the Franco-Spanish mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot-García and her family—Turgenev always sought to keep up with everything that was happening in Russia, and, in particular, with the new music that was appearing there.