Russia Culture

By | November 19, 2021

Classical music and ballet

World renowned composers of the 20th century include Skriabin, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. Russian conservatories nurtured generations of world renowned soloists.

Among the best known are violinists David Óistraj and Gidon Kremer, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels, and vocalist Galina Vishnévskaya.

The Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the most famous ballet works in the world: Swan LakeThe Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty of the Forest.

During the early 20th century, Russian dancers Anna Pavlova and Vátslav Nizhinski became famous, and businessman Sergei Diagilev and his Russian Ballets traveled abroad, influencing the development of dance worldwide.

Soviet ballet maintained and perfected the traditions of the nineteenth century, and the choreography schools of the Soviet Union produced stars of international fame one after another, including Maia Pleisetskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Barishhnikov. The Bolshoi Theater (in Moscow) and the Mariinsky Ballet (in St. Petersburg) remain famous throughout the world.


According to, the Russian literature is considered to be one of the most influential and developed in the world, contributing to many of the best known literary works. The first book that we have news of in the Russian language is the wax manuscript Novgorod Codex, psalms that address topics such as the glorification of Russian beauty and power, the denunciation of the autocracy of the princes and the defense of moral principles.

Specialists have agreed to describe the 19th century as the Golden Age of Russian literature, when poetry and prose reach their highest peaks through romanticism and literary realism. In this time lives that great poet who was Alexander Pushkin, whose reform of writing resulted in the breakdown of traditions with his excellent lyrical and epic poems, dramatic works in verse, brilliant prose and stories, also versified.

In the first half of the 19th century the novelist Nicolai Gogol stood out. In the second half of that century, however, a host of authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Ivan Turgenev will appear, turning Russian literature into a manifestation of universal scope, whose genius has transcended to this day.

It is appreciable in the letters of Russia, the large number of excellent poets who between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries made their work known. Among them it is necessary to cite Alexander Blok and Ana Akhmatova, authors that cannot be classified within any specific literary trend, and others such as Sergue Esenin, Marina Stvetayeva or Vladimir Mayakovski.

Also between the XIX and XX the figure of the great Anton Chekhov, playwright and universal prose writer of great stature and influence in the future of universal letters, is remarkable.

Other authors such as Mikhail Bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, Máximo Gorki, Ilia Erenburg, Mikhail Sholojov or Evgueni Evtushenko complete a very brief overview of the big names.


Russian and later Soviet cinema was at the core of the invention in the immediate aftermath of the 1917 revolution, resulting in world-renowned films such as Battleship Potemkin. Soviet-era film directors, particularly Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovski, would become the world’s most innovative and influential cinematographers.

The 1980s and 1990s were crisis years for Russian cinema. In the early years of the 21st century the audience increased with the subsequent prosperity of the industry thanks to rapid economic development. Production levels reached those of the United Kingdom and Germany.

If in 1996 the income from the box office was about 6 million dollars, in 2007 they were 565 million (37% more than in 2006). Russian cinema continues to gain international recognition. The Russian Ark (2002) was the first feature film consisting of a single unedited shot.

Visual arts

The Imperial Academy of Arts was created in 1757, with the aim of giving Russian artists an international role and status. Notable portrait painters from the Academy include Ivan Argunov, Fyodor Rokotov, Dmitri Levitski, and Vladimir Borovikovski.

Realism flourished in the 19th century and the realists took on the Russian identity. Russian landscapes of wide rivers, forests, and clearings among birch trees, as well as a genre of energetic scenes and robust portraits of his contemporaries affirmed a sense of identity. Other artists focused on social criticism, depicting the conditions of the poor and caricaturing authority while critical realism flourished under the reign of Alexander II.

A group of artists called Peredvizhniki (itinerant) broke with the Academy and started an art school free of its restrictions. His paintings had deep social and political significance. Notable royalists include Ivan Shishkin, Arjip Kuindzhi, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasili Polénov, Isaak Levitán, Vasili Surikov, Víktor Vasnetsov and Ilya Repin.

Some Soviet artists did very patriotic and anti-fascist work in the 1940s. The events and battles of the Great Patriotic War were described with poignant patriotism and after the war sculptors made many monuments dedicated to the war dead, the most prominent of which had great restrained solemnity.

In the 20th century many Russian artists worked in Western Europe. Russian artists such as Vasili Kandinski, Marc Chagall and Naum Gabo spread their work and ideas internationally. These Russian artists studied in different countries, in Paris (France) and Munich (Germany) and spread globally the impact of Russian art.

Russia Culture