Prince Vladimir Fyodorovich Odoyevsky (1803-1869) and Music

Today we are continuing our Russian Week (see also the post from Monday about John Field in St. Petersburg) with letter O of the series RISM A-Z. The spotlight is on a prominent figure of Russian music and cultural life in the nineteenth century.

Author, philosopher, composer, copyist, music critic, organologist, lexicographer, museum director, assistant library director, and much more describe Prince Vladimir Fyodorovich Odoyevsky (1803-1869), a representative of Russian Romanticism who had great influence on Russian culture. He was known as the "Russian Hoffmann" and his output as a writer includes children's tales, fantastical utopian novels, satirical short stories, and literature in the povest genre in which Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and others are central figures.

As a composer, though, Odoyevsky is practically unknown. Only one single work was printed within his lifetime, a berceuse. But he was a very productive copyist who wrote out a lot of music to both study and add to his collection: Italian Renaissance music, Western sacred music, and music from his own time. The collection also contains arrangements of opera music for keyboard instrument, Russian folksongs, and music by his Russian contemporaries, known and unknown.

Given his activities, Odoyevsky is considered the founder of Russian musicology. He commissioned a small organ from the St. Petersburg organ builder Georg Mälzel and nicknamed it "Sebastianon" in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach. Unfortunately, the organ has not survived. Odoyevsky wrote his own compositions and arrangements for it. Five of these sources are in the RISM online catalog.

In total, RISM has around 180 works that are attributed to Odoyevsky. From Odoyevsky's personal music collection, there are 440 entries in RISM. These items are found today in the Glinka Museum in Moscow (RUS-Mcm) and begin with the shelfmark Ф.73.

More can be read about Odoyevsky in the Russian Wikipedia entry for him.

Image: Portrait of Odoyevsky from the 1840s. The artist was Kirill Gorbunov. Via Wikimedia Commons.



Category: RISM A-Z

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