36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 064: Boris is good enough


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 64 — Boris is good enough
05-October-1971 (Tue.)

2007 Washington National Art Gallery


Typical day—much practice, much frustration.

Saw Boshoi Theater (opera) Company at the Staatsoper.
Boris Godunov—from Moscow. Everything was Russian—orchestra, opera, etc. Very impressive and extremely enjoyable. The music was sometimes not solid—by Mussorgsky (not sure).

I think what was outstanding was: (1) Russian chorus—typical big chorus (hearty!) with a lot of emphasis on bass. Singing Russian folk songs—very beautiful. (2) Costumes—very elaborate. (3) General sets and scenes also elaborate. Especially [the] crowd scenes. The voices were good but not fantastically outstanding. Seemingly a lot of emotion (abrupt though, and strong) presence.

It was a fantastic performance and they received much applause. What was somewhat humorous was that they had a couple of photographers taking pictures of everyone and making films. We would probably make T.V. (Inside) I’m hoping that they are not going to use art as a tool of propaganda.


In 2007, one more day in Washington. Picture above is from the National Art Gallery. Again, just an iPhone camera picture with cropping.

My writing seems to be getting choppier. It must be that I’m always frustrated. Looking back, I’m amazed that I survived my youth—always being frustrated and such. Winking

Bolshoi Theater Company. The Bolshoi Theater Company from Moscow is a world-renowned opera and ballet company. This was the first time that I heard them perform. The performance was fantastic. Although I don’t write about it in my journal, I do remember a performance of the Bolshoi in Vienna in which the finale consisted of an incredible wall-of-sound of big brass, an immense chorus, and symphony orchestra. I think it may have been this performance of Boris Godunov. I will have to revisit this music again.

The Bolshoi was in Vienna for a short period and they were the hot ticket in town. Now I know why.

Boris Godunov. This is 19th-century Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky’s, only opera. I was impressed by the Russian chorus, the basses, the brass, the beautiful folk melodies of Mussorgsky, and the elaborate costumes and sets. It got the Viennese audience on their feet to great applause.

Mussorgsky is most famous for his
Pictures at an Exhibition, written for two pianos but later transcribed for orchestra by Maurice Ravel. Mussorgsky was a handsome dude, but he is often portrayed by a famous painting of him later in life where you can tell that he had one too many. The Wikipedia link has both pictures.

Here are some Wikipedia links for you:

Bolshoi Theater Company
Modest Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov

Art as propaganda? Just because there were photographers taking publicity pictures, I wonder if it will be used for propaganda. It was just a comment, or perhaps I was kidding. I was young. You know, 36 years later, I can’t tell. If you haven't noticed, I do practice occasional tongue-in-cheek funniness. This is a case of "it's hard to tell if someone is joking in their email."

What’s important here? It was a great opera. Mussorgsky is a fine composer. The Bolshoi is an incredible performing group—and still is today. This opera by Mussorgsky is one to revisit.

2007 Washington Union Station
2007 in Washington D.C. We took the train to Washington. A nice trip on the Amtrak express. When you arrive, you are in Union Station. They have remodeled this and it is probably the best looking train station in the country. There are a few more pics of Washington in the Slide Show area of this site.

That’s all for today.


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