Death of a Russian chorus legend

Death of a Russian chorus legend


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2018

Boris Kulikov, who has died at 86, was professor of choral conducting at the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow, an indispensable repository of tradition who preserved the Orthodox liturgy in Soviet times.

He numbered Mravinsky, Gilels, Richter and Rozhdestvensky among his close friends and he taught many of today’s symphonic conductors, as well as the chorus specialists.

There’s a fascinating interview with him here (in English). Kulikov says:

In 1918, Trotsky, with a stroke of his pen, abolished the Synodal School and the Synodal Choir. It was a severe blow, a terrible, premeditated crime. Even from a purely secular point of view, because at that time the art of choral singing had achieved perfection, gleaned through centuries of experience; it was the greatest thing that existed in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in this realm. When the Synodal Choir sang in the Kremlin Dormition Cathedral it was the sound of all Russia praying. Once someone experienced this, they remembered it for a lifetime, and the sound was transmitted from generation to generation. All Moscow sang, the whole of Russia sang.



  • Gregor Tassie says:

    I met him when he was Rector of the Moscow Conservatoire in the 1980s, he was a very nice and kindly man, and he was an outstanding teacher and helped revive choral singing of sacred music during perestroika. He will be sadly missed.