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By the end of the 18th century, there was a small body of comic operas based on Russian librettos, some by native composers and others by foreign (1842) are the oldest Russian operas that remain in the standard repertoire.
By the second half of the 19th century, an active musical life was in place, thanks mainly to the efforts of the composer and piano virtuoso Anton Rubinstein, who with royal patronage founded in St.
The first major full-time professional composer in Russia was Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, who eventually gave up a naval career to become a professor at the St. The self-taught composers tended to effect a more self-consciously nationalistic style than the conservatory-bred Tchaikovsky, and among their most important works were operas such as Mussorgsky’s Igor Stravinsky.
Stravinsky, a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, was catapulted to early fame through his association with Serge Diaghilev, for whose Ballets Russes he composed a trio of sensational works that received their premieres in Paris: (1913).
Among the best known are violinists David Oistrakh and Gidon Kremer, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, pianists Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels, and vocalist Galina Vishnevskaya.
From the mid-1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform policies eased restrictions on Soviet artists, many of Russia’s émigrés, such as Rostropovich and pianist Vladimir Horowitz, made triumphant returns.
Petersburg Russia’s first regular professional orchestra (1859) and conservatory of music (1862).
Both became models that were quickly imitated in other urban centres.
While living abroad Prokofiev was a modernist like Stravinsky, but he eventually adopted a more conservative, accessible idiom in conformity with Soviet expectations.