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Cappella Romana presents the World Premiere of Passion Week by Maximilian Steinberg A Lost Work of Sacred Music from Post-Revolutionary St. Petersburg

Date: 03/12/2014 17:17

This April 11 and 12, for the first time in recorded history, Cappella Romana presents Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week, the last major sacred work composed in Russia after the imposition of Communism. Unlike Gretchaninoff’s similar collection, nearly every movement of Steinberg’s Passion Week directly quotes Medieval chant melodies, setting them in rich choral textures to magnify their intrinsic power and spirituality.


Maximilian Steinberg (1883–1946) was the son-in-law of Rimsky-Korsakov, as well as a classmate of Stravinsky and a teacher of Shostakovich. Steinberg’s piece was composed in 1921-26, during the early years of the Soviet Period when artists still had some freedom of travel and programming. However, because of later conditions imposed by Soviets, this work was never performed.


Steinberg was born into a Jewish family in Vilnius, Lithuania, but moved to the imperial capital of St. Petersburg and there literally wed himself to the predominant Russian Orthodox culture by marrying the daughter of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov. Steinberg completed his musical studies at the St. Petersburg (later Leningrad) Conservatory where he and Igor Stravinsky were classmates, yet unlike Stravinsky, he stayed in Russia following the 1917 Revolution. Following his father-in-law’s death, Steinberg completed Rimsky’s Principles of Orchestration and became director of the Conservatory, where his students included the eminent Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich.


The complete work of the Passion Week, published around 1927 by the now-defunct Bessell et Companie in Paris, was basically lost and virtually unknown except to a very small number of scholars, until appearing in some papers originally owned by the Very Rev. Constantine Buketoff, who came to the United States in the first decade of the 20th century as a church musician, and served as priest in several parishes in the vicinity of New York City. These papers then passed to his son, the celebrated conductor Ivan Buketoff, who then willed them to his niece, Tamara Skvir, and her husband, the Very Rev. Daniel Skvir, of the Orthodox chapel at Princeton University, New Jersey.


Recognizing the work to be significant, Rev. and Mrs. Skvir shared the score with Cappella Romana artistic director Dr. Alexander Lingas, whom they knew from his time in Princeton doing post-doctoral work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The decision was made to include this new discovery in Cappella Romana’s 2013-14 series, to produce a new critical edition of the work (through Musica Russica, following a visit by Dr. Lingas to St. Petersburg to study Steinberg’s original manuscript, which has now been rediscovered) and consequently to record it for a new CD release, all thanks to an anonymous $50,000 gift, the largest individual gift in Cappella Romana’s history.


Founding artistic director Alexander Lingas will conduct both performances.  Russian Orthodox music specialist Dr. Vladimir Morosan (of the publishing house Musica Russica) will present a pre-concert talk one hour prior to each performance.


 Fri., Apr. 11, 2014, 8:30pm (NOTE LATER TIME), 
  St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1739 NW Couch St (at 18th), Portland

TICKETS: Order online at cappellaromana.org or call 503.236.8202. Silver, Gold, & Platinum seating available. Prices start at $22, with discounts for seniors, students & Arts for All.

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