For Ukraine, He's a Native Son, Regardless

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI:
For Ukraine, He's a Native Son, Regardless

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This chapter traces the roots of operas composed by Dmitry Bortnyansky, showing how Ukrainian people accepted his music even though never thought of himself as a Ukrainian and surely spent most of his life trying to forget he ever saw the place. Bortnyansky wrote Alcide to an Italian text by the great librettist Pietro Metastasio during his apprentice years in Bologna, where he was studying at the expense of the German-born, French-speaking Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Performed in Venice (once only) in 1778, when the composer was twenty-seven, the score now rests in the British Library. The next year Bortnyansky went home, not to Ukraine, where he had lived only until his ninth year, but to St. Petersburg, where he became Director of Music to the future Tsar Paul I and later took over the Imperial Chapel Choir, in which he had flourished as a child star.

Keywords: Dmitry Bortnyansky; Alcide; Pietro Metastasio; Empress Catherine; Imperial Chapel Choir

Chapter.  1976 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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