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Galina Vishnevskaya

Galina Pavolovna Vishnevskaya became the most exciting soprano to emerge in the Soviet Union after World War II. She had a major career on the Bolshoi stage, cruelly cut short due to the political beliefs of her and her husband.

She had a strong and attractive natural voice. Originally, she was taken to be a mezzo-soprano. During World War II she sang practically incessantly for the troops during World War II, while studying privately with Vera Garina in Leningrad.

She began singing in operetta in 1944. In general, she was regarded as a light music specialist. When her true vocal range was discovered, however, she developed a powerful, highly dramatic voice with unique personal coloration and the capability of the most intense expression. She was appointed a soloist for the Leningrad Philharmonic, and then joined Moscow¹s Bolshoi Theater in 1952.

Her dramatic voice, strikingly beautiful appearance, and wide range as an actress made her the house¹s leading star in very short order. On a tour in Czechoslovakia, she was intensely wooed by the young cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Her tale of their this whirlwind courtship is recounted in her excellent autobiography, Galina: A Russian Story (New York, 1984). They quickly married. She credits the longevity of their marriage despite intense outside pressure to the fact that neither of them had seen the other in performance; that their love was based on their genuine persons, not their stage images. The first of the outside pressures soon materialized: She says she had attracted the eye of Nikolai Bulganin, President of the USSR, who wanted her for his mistress and went to frightening though unavailing lengths to get the newlyweds to consent.

Bulganin fell from power a couple of years later, removing one obstacle to the development of her career. She sang in all the major dramatic soprano parts of the standard Western repertoire (Butterfly, Tosca, Violetta, Aida, Leonore, and Liu), in addition to Russian roles like Tatyana (Yevgeny Onegin), Kupava (Snegurochka), Natasha (War and Peace), Sofiya (Semyon Kotko), and Marfa (Khovanshchina). Many of these were recorded by the Soviet state recording and broadcasting companies. Furthermore, some of her roles were preserved on television and in films.

She made international debuts (the Met, La Scala, Covent Garden, etc.) between 1961 and 1964. At the same time, English composer Benjamin Britten wrote the soprano part in his great War Requiem specifically for her. However, Soviet authorities seeking to embarrass the British government over the status of Berlin, used her appearance in the premiere as a pawn, withholding permission to leave the country for the premiere. She was permitted to go to London a few months later to participate in the classic composer-led performance of the work. Later, Britten wrote a Russian-language Pushkin song-cycle, The Poet¹s Echo, for her and her husband in Rostropovich¹s largely unrecognized capacity as a fine recital pianist.

Meanwhile, she also showed herself a great recitalist, particularly in the songs of the Russian masters, including Shostakovich, who wrote his Seven Romances for her. In 1966 she appeared on film in the title role of Shostakovich¹s opera Katerina Ismailova, the "rehabilitated" version of his Lady Macbeth of Mzensk, one of her greatest performances. Shostakovich wrote the soprano part of his song-cycle Symphony no 14 for her, and she sang its premiered in 1969. Her recording of it is a gramophone classic.

She and Rostropovich supported the Nobel Prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his struggles with Soviet officialdom, even sheltering him in their summer house. Once again, official pressure against them tightened. Ultimately, both musicians found their bookings cancelled, and Vishnevskaya was expelled from the Bolshoi. Vishnevskaya lost valuable years of her artistic prime in this dispute before they left the USSR in 1974. In 1978, the USSR proclaimed them "ideological renegades" and stripped them of Soviet citizenship.

Rostropovich picked up his cello career in the West, and became one of the leading conductors of the world. Vishnevskaya had a few years during which she successfully appeared as guest artists in leading international opera houses. The highlight of her Western career was the recording she made with Rostropovich conducting of the original version of Lady Macbeth of Mzensk, a performance of breathtaking passion and intensity that is a permanent treasure of the recording art.

After a few years, she retired from the stage. In one of the last acts of the Soviet Union, President Mikhail Gorbachev restored the couple¹s citizenship in 1990. They made a triumphal return to Russia, documented in a television film Soldiers of Music. After that they devoted much effort to improving the lot of musical life in their homeland. ~ Joseph Stevenson
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Best Encores 100

Disc 1
Composer: Antonio Bazzini
Title: La Ronde Des Lutins, Scherzo Fantastique For Violin & Piano, Op. 25
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Title: Sonata For Solo Violin No. 3 In C Major, Bwv 1005
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Title: Sonata For Violin & Piano No. 5 In F Major ("Spring"), Op. 24
Composer: Niccolò Paganini
Title: Caprice For Solo Violin In A Minor (Theme & Variations), Op. 1/24, MS 25/24
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: Andante And Variations On "Di Tanti Palpiti," For Violin (Flute) & Harp In F Major, Qr Vi/1
Composer: Fritz Kreisler
Title: La Gitana For Violin & Piano (after An 18th Century Arabo-Spanish Gypsy Song)
Composer: Jules Massenet
Title: Thaïs, Lyric Comedy In 3 Acts
Composer: Aram Khachaturian
Title: Gayane, Ballet In 4 Acts
Composer: Gabriel Fauré
Title: Berceuse, For Violin & Piano (Or Orchestra) In D Major, Op. 16
Composer: Johannes Brahms
Title: Hungarian Dance For Piano, 4 Hands, In G Minor, Woo 1/5
Composer: Henryk Wieniawski
Title: Polonaise (No. 1) De Concert, For Violin & Orchestra In D Major, Op. 4
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Title: Valse-scherzo, For Violin & Orchestra (Or Violin & Piano) In C Major, Op. 34
Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
Title: The Gadfly, Film Score, Op. 97
Composer: Pablo de Sarasate
Title: Introduction And Tarantella, For Violin & Orchestra, Op. 43
Composer: Franz Schubert
Title: Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), Song For Voice & Piano, D. 839 (Op. 52/6)
Composer: Vittorio Monti
Title: Csárdás, For Violin & Piano
Disc 2
Composer: Fryderyk Chopin
Title: Waltz For Piano No. 1 In E Flat Major, Op. 18, Ct. 207
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Title: Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27/2
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: Air (Sarabande) In E Major, Hwv 425
Composer: Franz Liszt
Title: La Campanella II, Etude For Piano In G Sharp Minor (Grand Paganini éTude No. 3), S. 141/3 (Lw A173/3)
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Title: Cantata No. 147, "Herz Und Mund Und Tat Und Leben," Bwv 147 (Bc A174)
Composer: Fryderyk Chopin
Title: Fantasy-impromptu For Piano In C Sharp Minor, Op. 66, Ct. 46
Composer: Robert Schumann
Title: Kinderszenen No. 7 ("Träumerei"), For Piano, Op. 15/7
Composer: Fryderyk Chopin
Title: Polonaise For Piano No. 6 In A Flat Major ("Héroique"), Op. 53, Ct. 155
Title: Nocturne For Piano No. 5 In F Sharp Major, Op. 15/2, Ct. 112
Composer: Sergey Rachmaninov
Title: Prelude For Piano No.1 In C Sharp Minor ("The Bells Of Moscow"), Op. 3/2

10. Prelude For Piano No.1 In C Sharp Minor ("The Bells Of Moscow"), Op. 3/2: Prelude, Op.3 No.2 In C Sharp Minor

Composer: Claude Debussy
Title: Golliwogg's Cakewalk, For Piano (Children's Corner No. 6), L. 113/6
Composer: Erik Satie
Title: Gymnopedie For Piano No. 1
Composer: Edvard Grieg
Title: Bryllupsdag På Troldhaugen (Wedding Day At Troldhaugen), Lyric Piece For Piano, Op. 65/6
Composer: Isaac Albéniz
Title: Suite Española No. 1, For Piano, Op. 47, B. 7
Composer: Manuel de Falla
Title: Ritual Fire Dance, For Orchestra (from "El Amor Brujo")
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Title: Pictures At An Exhibition (Kartinki S Vïstavski), For Piano
Disc 3
Composer: Jeremiah Clarke
Title: The Prince Of Denmark's March (Trumpet Voluntary In D Major) For Brass, Winds, & Percussion (or Keyboard Or Trumpet & Organ)
Composer: André Messager
Title: Solo De Concours For Clarinet & Piano
Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Title: Carnival Of The Animals, Zoological Fantasy For 2 Pianos & Ensemble
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Title: Orchestral Suite No. 2 In B Minor, Bwv 1067
Composer: Reinhold Glière
Title: Intermezzo And Tarantella For Double Bass & Piano, Op. 9
Composer: Alexander Goedicke
Title: Concert Study, For Trumpet & Piano, Op. 49
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Title: Tango, For Piano

7. Tango, For Piano: Tango

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Title: Cantata No. 29, "Wir Danken Dir, Gott, Wir Danken Dir," Bwv 29 (Bc B8)
Composer: Jacques Ibert
Title: Pièces (6), For Harp
Composer: Paul Creston
Title: Sonata For Saxophone & Piano, Op. 19
Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Title: Chôros No. 1, For Guitar, "Tipico Brasileiro", A. 161
Composer: Francis Poulenc
Title: Sonata For Flute & Piano, Fp 164
Composer: Alan Abbott
Title: Alla Caccia, For Horn & Piano
Composer: Maurice Ravel
Title: Alborada Del Gracioso, For Orchestra
Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Title: Chôros No. 2, For Flute & Clarinet, A. 197
Composer: Arthur Pryor
Title: Blue Bells Of Scotland
Composer: Charles-marie Widor
Title: Toccata From Organ Symphony No. 5
Disc 4
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Title: Eugene Onegin, Opera, Op. 24
Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
Title: Festive Overture, For Orchestra In A Major, Op. 96
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Title: Simple Symphony, For String Orchestra, Op. 4
Composer: Bedrich Smetana
Title: Prodaná Nevesta (The Bartered Bride), Opera, Jb 1:100
Composer: Hans Christian Lumbye
Title: Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop For Orchestra (Or Piano) (Kjøbenhjavns Jernbane-damp-galop)
Composer: Mikhail Glinka
Title: Overture: Ruslan And Ludmilla, G. Xivov
Composer: Emmanuel Chabrier
Title: Joyeuse Marche (Marche Française), For Orchestra Or Piano, 4 Hands
Composer: Antonin Dvorák
Title: Slavonic Dance No. 15 For Orchestra In C Major, B. 147/7 (Op. 72/7)
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Title: La Damnation De Faust, For Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Chorus And Orchestra, ("Légende Dramatique") H. 111 (Op. 24)
Composer: Sergey Prokofiev
Title: Lieutenant Kijé, Film Score And Suite For Orchestra, Op. 60
Composer: Emmanuel Chabrier
Title: España, Rhapsody For Orchestra, Also Arranged For 2 Pianos
Composer: Johann Strauss II
Title: Leichtes Blut (Light As A Feather), Polka Schnell For Orchestra, Op. 319 (Rv 319)
Composer: Leonard Bernstein
Title: Overture To Candide, For Orchestra

13. Overture To Candide, For Orchestra: Overture To Candide

Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
Title: Tahiti Trot, For Orchestra (arr. Of Youmans "Tea For Two"), Op. 16
Composer: Mikis Theodorakis
Title: Alexis Zorbas, Ballet Suite
Composer: Oliver Knussen
Title: Flourish With Fireworks, For Orchestra, Op. 22
Disc 5
Composer: Léo Delibes
Title: Les Filles De Cadix, Bolero For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra)
Composer: Irish Traditional
Title: Londonderry Air (Danny Boy), Folk Song

2. Londonderry Air (Danny Boy), Folk Song: Danny Boy

Composer: Gerald Finzi
Title: Earth And Air And Rain, Song Cycle For Baritone & Piano, Op. 15
Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Title: Danse Macabre, Song For Voice & Orchestra
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Title: Sweet Polly Oliver, For Voice & Piano (Folk Songs, Vol. 3)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: Duetto Buffo Di Due Gatti (Cat Duet), For 2 Voices & Piano (spurious), QR Iv/1
Composer: Stephen Collins Foster
Title: Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair, For Voice & Piano

8. Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair, For Voice & Piano: Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair

Composer: Traditional Spiritual
Title: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: La Danza. Tarantella Napolitana ("Già La Luna È In Mezzo Al Mare"), For Voice & Piano (Soirées Musicales)
Composer: Henri Duparc
Title: L'invitation Au Voyage ("Mon Enfant, Ma Soeur"), Song For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra)
Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer
Title: La Barque Légère, Song For Voice & Piano
Composer: Franz Schubert
Title: An Die Musik ("Du Holde Kunst..."), Song For Voice & Piano, D. 547 (Op. 88/4)
Title: Ständchen ("Horch, Horch, Die Lerche"), Song For Voice & Piano, D. 889
Composer: Sergey Prokofiev
Title: Russian Folksongs (12) For Voice & Piano, Op. 104
Composer: Franz Liszt
Title: O Lieb, So Lang Du Lieben Kannst!, For Piano, S. 540a
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: La Regata Veneziana ("Voga O Tonio Benedetto"), For 2 Sopranos & Piano ("Notturno A Due Voci") (Soirées Musicales)
Composer: Franz Schubert
Title: Schwanengesang (Swan Song), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, D. 957
Composer: Jerónimo Giménez
Title: La Tempranica, Zarzuela
Disc 6
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: Il Barbière Di Siviglia (The Barber Of Seville), Opera
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Title: La Traviata, Opera
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Title: Lucia Di Lammermoor, Opera
Composer: Charles Gounod
Title: Faust, Opera
Composer: Antonin Dvorák
Title: Rusalka, Opera, B. 203 (Op. 114)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: Semele, Oratorio, Hwv 58
Composer: André Messager
Title: L' Amour Masqué, Operetta
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Title: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Opera, K. 620
Composer: Franz Lehár
Title: Giuditta, Opera In 5 Acts
Composer: Federico Moreno Torroba
Title: La Chulapona, Zarzuela
Composer: Johann Strauss II
Title: Die Fledermaus (The Bat), Operetta (Rv 503)
Composer: Leonard Bernstein
Title: Glitter And Be Gay, For Soprano & Orchestra (from "Candide")
Composer: Ernesto de Curtis
Title: Tu, Ca Nun Chiagne!, For Voice & Piano (or Orchestra)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Title: La Traviata, Opera

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