BAM 2000

|  notes  | mp3 sample

Russian Film Music I

the belair collection

Russian Film Music portrays some of the most moving and thrilling muisc. After a seemingly inexhaustible yield of beautiful classical music over the past 300 years, the 20th century has accelerated the widening gap between serious music, usually the term for classical music, and popular music which is usually characterized by relatively shorter scores, simple harmonies and memorable melodies. However, isolated works of serious music have increasingly become “popular music” (so called “crossovers”) through simplification, arrangements and repeated exposure.  Russian Film Music of the 1930s to the 1980s, with its clear classical roots, has in some ways, bridged the gap, although the music composed for the films produced in the seventies clearly reflect an increasing “crossover” tendency.

Considerable research and preparation has gone into recording this album of Russian Film Music. From a selection of forty movies stretching from the first soundtrack movie, New Babylon, in 1929 to Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson in 1980, eighteen compos-itions by ten different composers were selected. When listening, one will notice that the music reflects the gradual change from the 30s “modern” classical compositions of Prokofiev and Shostakovich through four decades to the very popular postmodern music of Tariverdiev and Petrov. The music recorded on this album speaks for itself and since it is not possible to describe all the movies in this booklet, only the film, Seventeen Momentos of Spring, is mentioned here. The composer, Mikail Tariverdiev, not only wrote but also performed the music himself. Immensely popular in Russia in the 70s, this film is now considered a modern classic. It was a story about a Soviet spy on a mission in Germany during the Second World War. Tariverdiev’s music introduced tragic polyphony into the background of the plot and accentuated what would otherwise have been an ordinary thriller into a genuine human drama of loneliness, pain and dedication.

The very first composer to write original film music was Camille Saint-Saens. In 1908,he wrote a suit for strings, piano and harmonium for the film, L’assassinat de Duc Guise. Similar efforts for composing music for cinema were ongoing in Germany and the USA and in 1928, a German composer, E. Majze, composed music for the Berlin premier of the world-famous Battleship Potemkin by S.Eisenstein. Lenin nationalised the Russian Film industry in 1919 and put it under control of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment who demanded the production of films intended to glorify the 1917 Revolution. In 1922, the government created Goskino, the State Cinema Enterprise, which centralized control of the film industry. Goskino was renamed Sovkino in 1926. The first original film music in the USSR was written by Shostakovich in 1929 for the film, New Babylon. In the course of history, one may not be blamed for assuming that V.I. Lenin had an eye for the obvious propaganda value of the 20’s fast developing film industry when he once said: “Cinematography is the most important of all the arts.”  We can surely add to Lenin’s quote that music is one of the most important elements in the art of making movies. 

In the 30s, Russian film music took its first steps towards independence from the films themselves and gradually moved from the decorative, inflexible propaganda role of the 20s into the emotional depth of the characters, awakening compassion and nostalgic feelings in the listeners’ hearts and bringing tears to their eyes. Even though propaganda and censure continued to play a major part in movie production during the “Iron Curtain” period, if one ask any Russian of that generation if he or she enjoyed those Russian movies, the answer would be an enthusiastic “yes”! During that difficult period there was an extraordinary need to be “carried away” - dreaming of wealth and romance- and in this sense, the film music fulfilled its role immaculately. While watching a movie enhanced by today’s exceptionally high quality sound production, it is possible we have come to take the music for granted. We hardly notice the music as though it is a shadow in the background. Yet, its ability to colour silent scenes, bridge pauses in conversation, or create atmospheres of high drama, tension and suspense should never be underestimated. The music is always there, playing a major part in creating the identity of the movie. Many movies are remembered and identified only because of their wonderful music. Although some film are forgotten, the music still lives on independently. We tend to forget that once recorded the music is forever.

The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra

Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Konstantin Krimets 


The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra is firmly rooted in Russia’s rich musical traditions. The Orchestra has achieved an impressive and outstanding musical quality by drawing it’s musicians from the highest ranks of Russia’s most famous orchestras such as the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra and the State Symphony Orchestra. Like the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the  Russian Philharmonic Orchestra was originally formed as a recording ensemble and has gone on to receive high acclaim for its performances as well.


Russian Film Music I


 1.   Sviridov – Overture to Time More Forward  Director M. Schweitzer, 1966.
 2.   Dashkevitch – Overture to Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson”
 Director I. Maslennikov,1980
 3.   Prokofiev – “Troika” from Leutenant Kizae  Director A. Faintzimmer, 1934.
 4.   Shostakovich – “Ball at the Palace from Hamlet  Director G. Kozintsev, 1964.
 5.   Shostakovich – Romance from
The Gadfly  Director A. Faintzimmer, 1955.
 6.   Gavrilin – Tarantella from Aniuta  Director A. Berlinsky, 1961.
 7.   Shostakovich – Waltz from Pirogov 
Director G. Kozintsev, 1947.
   Dunaevskij – Overture  to Captain Grant’s Children 
Director V. Vainstock, 1936.       
 9.   Gavrilin – “The Great Waltz” from Aniuta 
Director A. Berlinsky, 1961.

10.  Khrennikov – Adagio from Hussar’s Ballad  Director E. Ryazanov, 1968.
11.  Sviridov – Waltz from Snowstorm
 Director V. Baznov, 1965.
12.  Sviridov – Romance from Snowstorm
 Director V. Baznov, 1965.
13.  Tariverdiev -“A Couple in a Cafe” from Seventeen Momentos of Spring Director
I. Lioznova, 1973.  
14.  Doga – Waltz from My Gentle Tender Beast  Director E. Lotjanu, 1974.
15.  Petrov - “The Train” from White Bim Black Ear
 Director S. Rostozky, 1977.
16.  Petrov – Overture to The Autumn Marathon  Director I. Danelia, 1979.
17.  Dunaevskij – March from Circus 
Director G. Aleksandrov, 1936.        






Total Time 61:40
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Konstantin Krimets Conductor

download digital quality MPEG3 sound sample
Free MP3 sample from The Gadfly, track no. 5

DDD Digital Recording. Moscow Radio Studio Five,  1/2000
® &  © 2000 - 2006 Bel Air Music®. Made in EC. All rights reserved. 

top of page