Thursday, May 2, 2013

31 Days in Moscow: Musical Museums

May 1st. It's hard to believe that 8 months have come and gone since I arrived in Moscow. While time seemed to freeze (along with everything else) during our eternal winter, it too has melted away with the snow. In exactly one month I'll be flying to London and saying a temporary goodbye to this city and, while our relationship is complicated, I know there will be much that I will miss while I'm away. And it's those things I want to share with you for the next month: Moscow in May. 31 days of sights, sounds, and stories. Tips, tricks, restaurant recommendations, itineraries, day trips...if there's anything you'd specifically like to hear about, let me know!

Where do we start? Musical Moscow. Did you expect anything different given my profession?! While the vast amount of my time here is spent at the Bolshoi, on Saturday I took some time to venture into other areas of Moscow's musical history and, as a result, today's highlight is musician museums. (We will return to the theatre however...stay tuned for Backstage at the Bolshoi day!)

First up, Glinka Museum of Musical Culture. This museum houses a large collection of historical musical instruments. All the Russian folk instruments are covered, but the collection covers an international range as well. I really enjoyed some of the manuscripts of old Russian folk songs, and took down some titles to see if I could listen to them online. Another highlight was the small display dedicated to violinist David Oistrakh. Russia has produced some seriously-skilled players and being able to glimpse into their lives never ceases to intrigue me. Best of all? There was a children's birthday party being held while I wandered through the instrument collection and they were entranced watching the cartoon version of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." Hearing their laughter or enraptured silence was enough to make me stop and watch with them for awhile. Go music education!

The museum has a series of concerts and lectures available as well at a very reasonable price...highly recommend stopping by!

Address: Ulitsa fadeeva, 4 Metro: Mayakovskaya, Novoslobodskaya *English tours/materials
Price: 100 rubles

The best part of paying the admission for the Glinka museum is that it also admits you to several affiliate museums. I made my next stop at the Chaliapin house museum, dedicated to the legendary bass who's being widely celebrated this year, the centennial of his death. This was my favorite stop of the day. I loving visiting house museums in's such an interesting dynamic when you're learning about a person while surrounded by their living history. This house has a great collection commemorating Schaliapin and to top that? The babushkas who sit in each room to be sure you keep your wandering hands to yourself know EVERYTHING! Obviously this is especially beneficial if you speak Russian, but not a picture or artifact came without an interesting anecdote.

Address: Novinskiy Bul'var, 25-27 Metro: Barrikadnaya *English language tours available

Last up for the day, the Tchaikovsky and Moscow Museum. While Tchaikovsky spent some of his Moscow years in this apartment, it was not actually his and came furnished, so it's missing some of the personality and authenticity that you experience across the street at Schaliapin's. It's worth stopping by if you've already purchased the Glinka ticket, but it wouldn't top my Moscow itinerary. The primary emphasis is Tchaikovsky's relationships at the Moscow Conservatory...friends, teachers, and so on.

Address: Kudrinskaya Ploshad', 46/54 Metro: Barrikadnaya *English materials available
One of Moscow's "Seven Sisters," the Stalinist sky scrapers. Located directly across from the Tchaikovsky museum.

While musicians are obviously likely to be intrigued by this museums more than your average tourist, an understanding or introduction to Moscow's musical history is bound to underhance your understanding of this city, its people, and its history. If a concert's not your first choice, I'd make some of these museums your second!

Coming soon...Day Trip Recommendation #1!!!


  1. I'm looking forward to your 31 posts about Moscow. I'm bookmarking this in case we do visit one day. I'd like to thank you for your kind words. Hugs from Dubai. Have a great weekend!

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