“ … As though someone's wings have silently flown up … Richter's hands have plunged into the keys, as into a font. Music was hardly perceived, hardly gleamed … the contours of something over reality began to appear, the new flesh, the new moon showed up … And there and then disappeared as soon as notes ended”
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The “December Nights” in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts - a music festival timed for appropriate exhibitions, have been held in the Museum since 1981. The idea of them belonged to Svyatoslav Teofilovich Richter (1915 - 1997) and to the director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts I.A.Antonova. Svyatoslav Richter was the inspirer and art director of the music festival. The main idea of “December Nights” is that of the unity of culture - through a reconstruction of images of certain epochs in the synthesis of music, painting, poetry and dramatic art. Spectators and listeners find themselves as if in a temple or in a hall of a palace, music and monuments of fine arts seem to have returned into their natural surroundings. At the same time the White Hall of our Museum with its chamber space is an ideal place for music, conveying a sense of partnership to a musical process. Since 1998 the festival has been known as the “December Nights of Svyatoslav Richter” and after the death of the great musician Jury Bashmet became its art director. Over these years many unique programs have been performed at the festival which has won world renown. The participants of the festival are outstanding musicians, directors, actors, poets. Among them - Svyatoslav Richter, Oleg Kagan, Natalia Gutman, Jury Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Victor Tretiakov, Mikhail Pletnev, Eliso Virsaladze, Christoph Eschenbach, Justus Franz, Murray Perahia, Peter Schreier, Robert Holl, Boris Pokrovsky, Anatoly Efross, Andrey Voznesensky, Evgeny Evtushenko, Bella Akhmadulina, Sergey Jursky, Borodin String Quartet, King's Consort, Hagen-Quartet, Takasc Quartet, Arditti String Quartet, Vladimir Spivakov, Gerard Causse, Julian Milkis, Barbara Bonney, Eduard Brunner, Alexandre Rudin, Beaux-Arts Trio, “Moscow Soloists”, “Moscow Virtuosoes”, “Il Giardino Armonico”, Hilliard Ensemble, Emma Kurkby, Michael Chance, Alexey Lubimov, Lars Vogt, Piotr Anderszewski, Pascal Devoyons, Alexandre Melnikov, Thomas Zehetmair, Christian Tetzlaff, Valery Afanasiev, Misha Maisky, Mario Brunello, Jan Bostridge, Alexandre Knyazev, Oleg Meisenberg, Irina Arkhipova, Dominique Labelle, Elisabeth Leonskaya, etc.
A high performance level at the “December Nights”, programs including rare, sophisticated chamber music compositions , - all what Richter so valued, - attracted the devoted public to the Museum. Richter used to say more than once: “The best concert is when listeners are standing round the stage. It is necessary, that everyone can be admitted to a concert. Richter valued the “true” public, real judges of the art of music. “The public is always right”, - he would say. And our purpose is to keep a high level of the festival, all that was so dear to the great musician.
The archives of December Nights