Banned Music in Old Russia is Featured Our Operetta. Wife Sharon and myself (David) wrote a musical. Once titled Elizabeth of Russia. Half Peasant – Half Royal is the new name. We had a marvelous costumed staged reading in Sarasota Florida at the Players Theater. Below are YouTube videos: The entire cast sings the Drinking Song (since,more universal lyrics have been penned). In 1740, ethnic Russian music was banned from court. As an act of rebellion against the ruling regime, Elizabeth brings in the following entertainment: The Dance of the Cossacks – performed by principle dancers from the Sarasota Ballet. And, Dance of The Russian Peasant played on a Stradivarius flown in from Houston. The link below has composer Rubinoff and his Violin playing that piece. Sharon wrote the book and lyrics. I wrote the music. It is copyrighted.
Lesley and Ohrenstein’s Elizabeth of Russia follows in the tradition of the great Broadway hits South Pacific …
But first, with regards to the featured medallion picture: This medallion is dated and signed on the back by Gregory Musikiiskii, the first Russian painter of portrait miniatures. It can be compared to an earlier enamel painting of Peter the Great with his family, now in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, executed by the same artists in 1717. Here, the Russian emperor is depicted together with his wife Catherine, his three daughters Anna, Elizabeth (the future empress and subject of our musical. She is reclining on her mother.) and Natalia, and his grandson Peter (the future Peter II). Musikiiskii was transferred from the Moscow Kremlin Armory to St. Petersburg to work for the court of Peter the Great, the founder of modern Russia.
What About the Banned Music in Old Russia?
Our new title unravels and hopefully will solve the problems we had with our production. Elizabeth of Russia, in fact, was half peasant and half royal. She fell in love with a peasant. He was reputed to have one of the most magnificent singing voices in Russia at the time. Unfortunately, the combination of the two together made them 3/4 peasant and 1/4 royal. So what was the problem with Russian secular music?
- Early czars considered secular music to be a highly suspicious activity. Weapons could easily be hidden in instrumental cases.
- Thus, no musical instruments of any sort were allowed in church or at court.
- They instructed peasants to stop singing folk songs. Common people, of course, are the source of folk songs.
- Troubadours (travelling minstrel singers) were forbidden in old Russia. The czars worried that they would sing seditious songs.
- Thus, for the ruling elite, the act of Elizabeth falling in love with “lowborn peasant singer” was unacceptable.
In violation of the above, a case enclosed an authentic Stradivarius violin is brought and is played on stage at a court party. It has the official crest of the Russian empire. It is set with diamonds and rubies. The theatrical audience went wild with excitement. How did we come by it? I worked with Rubinoff and His Violin. His widow, Dame Darlene Rubinoff, flew the violin from Houston. It was the Stradivarius that had previously belonged to Czar Nicholas II. Now for the first time, enjoy Rubinoff himself playing his featured violin solo, Dance of the Russian Peasant. Pictures in this youtube background highlight both his life and his friendship with Sharon and myself. Feel free to share this special post with with friends. We are looking to do a full production.