Alexander Rozhin, Natella Voiskounski

Magazine issue: 




Dear friends,

This Russia-Switzerland special issue of the "Tretyakov Gallery" magazine is dedicated to the cultural ties between our two nations. With its alpine landscapes, ancient cities, age-old castles, picturesque meadows, and Lake Geneva and its surroundings, Switzerland has long enchanted poets, artists and musicians alike with its romantic, soulful spirit.

In his "Letters of a Russian Traveller", Nikolai Karamzin was the first to give an extensive and clear account of the unforgettable impression that Switzerland had made on him. We remember the great historian and writer's words: "Why am I not a painter! Why couldn't I, that very instant, commit to paper the fertile, green Hasli Valley that unfolded in front of my eyes like a most beautiful garden in bloom, surrounded by wild, rocky mountains rising up all the way to the skies!"

Vladimir Nabokov also found Switzerland conducive to writing (he finished his translation into English and wrote his commentary to "Eugene Onegin", and later translated Bulat Okudzhava's "Sentimental March", while living in Montreux). So did Nikolai Gogol, who wrote to Vasily Zhukovsky: "Finally, the autumn in Vevey is wonderful - almost summer-like. My room is now warm, and I have begun writing my 'Dead Souls', which I started in St. Petersburg. I have changed everything I wrote before, thought more about the plot, and now I am working on it without haste, as if it were a chronicle. Since then, I have felt better in Switzerland, and its grey-purple-azure-blue-pink mountains seem lighter and more airy..."

Karamzin's and other Russian travellers' desire to paint the mountains, valleys, air and lakes of Switzerland found expression in the works of such wonderful masters of the visual arts as Sylvester Shchedrin, Orest Kiprensky, Alexander Ivanov, Alexei Bo-golyubov, Ivan Shishkin, Boris Kustodiev, Mikhail Vrubel, Ilya Repin and many others...

During the First World War Igor Stravinsky spent several years in the neutral country, and composed his "The Soldier's Tale" there; the Auditorium Stravinsky is a popular venue for musical events in Montreux today. As for Sergei Rachmaninoff, he wrote many a great musical composition, including his Third Symphony and the famous "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" in Switzerland; his Villa Senar near Lake Lucerne is a place of memorial to the composer.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Russian immigrants found refuge in Switzerland -among them, the artists Alexej von Yavlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and other world-renowned Russian cultural figures.

To this day, Switzerland, like a powerful magnet, captures the imagination of artists. Monuments to their fellow countrymen have been erected by Russian artists in Switzerland - one, to Vladimir Nabokov, is the work of Alexander and Philipp Rukav-ishnikov, another, by Dmitry Tugarinov, is dedicated to the military commander Alexander Suvorov. Many contemporary Russian artists participate in the prestigious Art Basel forum.

We do not associate Switzerland just with her famous watchmakers, but with her brilliant literature as well - first and foremost, with such names as Friedrich Durren-matt, Max Frisch and Nobel Prize-winner Hermann Hesse. Their books have been published in Russia in print-runs of millions, while their plays have been popular with generations of theatre audiences.

Our nations have a shared history stretching back centuries, and the 200th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Russia is an example both of our forward-looking, mutually beneficial and resolute co-operation, and of respect for just that common past.

Editor-in-chief Alexander Rozhin
Co-editor Natella Voiskounski




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