Dmitry Bortniansky

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Dmitry Bortniansky
Portrait by Mikhail Belsky (1788)
Born(1751-10-28)28 October 1751
Died10 October 1825(1825-10-10) (aged 73)

Dmitry Stepanovich Bortniansky[1] (Russian: Дмитрий Степанович Бортнянский; Ukrainian: Дмитро Степанович Бортнянський, romanizedDmytro Stepanovych Bortnianskyi; 28 October 1751 in Glukhov – 10 October 1825[a] in St. Petersburg)[2] was a Russian and Ukrainian[2] composer and musician. He was an important composer of Orthodox church music.

Life[change | change source]

Early life[change | change source]

Bortniansky was born in Glukhov,[3] Russian Empire (now in Ukraine). He studied music and sang in the local church. People noticed that he had a beautiful voice. So, he was chosen to become a singer in the imperial chapel choir in St. Petersburg.[4] He was able to study music and composition in St. Petersburg. He studied music with Baldassare Galuppi. Galuppi returned to Venice in 1768. Galuppi asked Empress Catherine to send Bortniansky to Italy.[5] Catherine accepted this request. She sent Bortniansky to Venice.

In Venice, Bortniansky continued his training with Galuppi.[6] In 1776, his first opera, Creonte was performed in Venice. However, it was not a success.[1] So, he wrote two more operas, Alcide and Quinto Fabio in 1778.[2][7] These were successful.[1] In Italy, he also wrote music for Catholic liturgy. This includes an Ave Maria.[1]

Career[change | change source]

Bortniansky returned to St. Petersburg in 1779.[5] He became a composer in the imperial court chapel.[2] In 1783, he became the Kapellmeister for Prince Paul.[2] In 1796 Prince Paul became Emperor of Russia. He made Bortniansky the director of the Imperial Chapel.[6]

The imperial court chapel was in a bad condition. The singers were not talented. They were not disciplined.[6] Bortniansky worked to improve the chapel. He improved the living conditions of singers. He increased the singer's salaries.[1] He made sure that the singers received proper education. He introduced choral music from Western European composers. This includes Mozart, Handel, Haydn, and Beethoven.[6]

In 1816, the imperial court chapel received a monopoly for all church music.[2] This means that Bortniansky had full control of the church music in the Russian Empire. He gets to say if a piece of church music can be published or not. However, Bortniansky never published any of his own compositions.[6]

Bortniansky died in St Petersburg on October 10, 1825. It is said that he invited the court chapel to his house before he died. He wanted to hear his favorite choral concerto, Vskuyu Priskorbna Yesi, Dusha Moya? (English: "Why are you mournful, O my soul?"[2]). He died after the choir finished singing.[1]

Music[change | change source]

Bortniansky's greatest contribution was his church music. He was an important composer of the choral concerto. He was not allowed to use musical instruments in his church music. This is because the Orthodox Church does not allow musical instruments in their church.[8][9]

Bortniansky wrote over 100 religious pieces.[4] Tchaikovsky edited his works after he died.[10] Tchaikovsky later regretted his decision.[11] He did not think that Bortniansky's music was good. He thought that Bortniansky's music did not fit Russian Orthodox liturgy.[12] On the other hand, Hector Berlioz praised Bortniansky's music.[13]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. October 10 is Bortniansky's death date in the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian calendar, his death date is September 28

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Ritzarev, Marina (2016). Eighteenth-Century Russian Music. Routledge. ISBN 9781351568609.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Kuzma, Marika (20 January 2001). "Bortnyans′ky [Bortniansky, Dmytro Stepanovych". Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.03638.
  3. Brill, Nicholas P. (1982). History of Russian Church Music, 988-1917. Brill.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Katchanovski, Ivan; Zenon E., Kohut; Bohdan Y., Nebesio; Myroslav, Yurkevich (2013). Historical Dictionary of Ukraine. Scarecrow Press. p. 386. ISBN 9780810878471.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jaffe, Daniel (2012). Historical Dictionary of Russian Music. Scarecrow Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 9780810879805.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Ritchie, Carolyn Cairns (January 1994). The Russian Court Chapel Choir: 1796-1917 (PDF) (Thesis). University of Glasgow. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  7. Kennedy, Joyce; Kennedy, Michael; Rutherford-Johnson, Tim (2013). The Oxford Dictionary of Music (6 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191744518.
  8. "Musical Instruments". Orthodox Church in America. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  9. Drillock, David (2013). "Orthodox Church". Oxford Music ONline. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2253705. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  10. Thompson, Oscar; Sabin, Robert; Slonimsky, Nicolas; Bohle, Bruce (1985). The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians. Dodd, Mead. p. 260. ISBN 9780396084129.
  11. Sylvester, Richard D. (2004). Tchaikovsky's Complete Songs; A Companion with Texts and Translations. Indiana University Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780253216762.
  12. Kuzma, Marika (1996). "Bortniansky à la Bortniansky: An Examination of the Sources of Dmitry Bortniansky's Choral Concertos". The Journal of Musicology. 14 (2): 183–212. doi:10.2307/763922. ISSN 0277-9269. JSTOR 763922. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  13. Kuzma, Marika C. (2001). "Dmitry Bortniansky at 250: His Legacy as a Choral Symphonist". The Choral Journal. 42 (1): 9–16. ISSN 0009-5028. JSTOR 23553880.