On the territory of Russia archaeologists found some evidence of people's having dealt with music. Near Voronezh in the dwellings of the Stone Age archaeologists discovered the stones, which were used as some sort of percussion instruments. Pictures on the rocks served evidently for retelling stories and singing epic poems. Guttural singing of Siberia and Far Eastern peoples as well as folk dancing of Caucasian peoples had a very old origin.
Slavonic tribes, which became famous for their misical talent, singing and dancing settled in the European part of Russia in the middle of the 1st millennium AD. Byzantine and Germanic sources are the evidence of this. Russian folk singing and dancing underwent two stages of formation. The first one includes folk songs and dancing, which are connected with calendar ceremonies (sowing, harvesting, etc.). The second stage - songs and dancing connected with family ceremonies (weddings, funerals). Lyric songs are more individual and warming up. Heroic bylines and instrumental music (pipes, horns, reed-pipes, tambourines, kettledrums) are referred to the epoch of Old Russia.
Church singing together with its own peculiar way of recording was borrowed from Byzantium with the adoption of Christianity. Part-singing (as a rule of 3 - 12 voices) with pronouncing the text in different voices either simultaneously or not - was borrowed from Poland and Ukraine at the end of the 17th century. Basil Titov 'sovereign's scribe', the author of a well-known 'Wishes for Long Life', was a prominent master - composer of that type of singing. Many-voiced songs both religious and temporal ones (including love and joking songs) were composed since the second half of the 17 the century. Many-voiced songs - panegyric glorifying the state, the army and the navy were especially famous in the time of Peter the Great.
Since the 18th century music of the European type provided with notes was successfully introduced into Russia. Home orchestras and theatres were actively developed. Serf theatres of Counts Sheremetiev and Vorontsov were especially famous. Since 1730s there was a court Italian theatre in Petersburg, where such composers as Baltassare, Galuppi and Domenico Chimarosa worked. In 1780 in Moscow the first musical theatre in Russia was founded. Since 1783 in Petersburg musical performances were staged in the theatres maid of stone. Provincial theatres followed that pattern.
In the 18th century a Russian school of composers was formed. It absorbed freedom-loving, educational ideas and the interest in a folk song. Maxim Berezovsky and Dmitri Bortnyansky were brilliant composers dealing with opera and instrumental music. Evstignei Fomin was famous for his work in the genre of so-called 'song' opera based on Russian folk tunes and in the genre of opera tragedy as well. Violinist - virtuoso Ivan Khandoshkin was the author of sonata, Russian folk themes and variations. Osip Kozlovsky gained popularity for his patriotic polonaises.
The discovery of Russian music of the 18th century has become the event of the recent years. The music of the 19th century is known much better. It begins with romantic and patriotic composing by Alexei Verstovsky, with touching romances by Alyabiev, Varlamov and Gumilev. A. Alyabiev, M. Glinka and A. Dargomyzhsky are considered to be the founders of Russian musical classics. A. Alyabiev, exiled to Siberia, has become known to public only recently (his romances 'Nightingale' - lyrics by A.A. Delvig and 'Beggar-woman' - lyrics by P. Beranzhe).
M. Glinka became famous for his wonderful romances (lyrics by A. Pushkin and N. Kukolnik), for monumental operas ('Life for the Tsar', 'Ruslan and Lyudmila'), for his tuneful symphonic works ('Kamarinskaya', 'Aragon Khota', 'Night in Madrid'). Although, the wealth of his ideas is revealed much more in chamber music ('Pathetic Trio', sextet). A. Dargomyzhsky in his turn was attracted by tunes of everyday life, by folk melodies (opera 'Mermaid'), by expressive recitative (opera 'Stone guest') and even by a satire (songs 'Worm', 'Titular Counselor').
The middle of the 19th century was marked by a new rise of musical life in Russia: there appeared new forms of concert activity and a Russian musical society was founded (1859). It arranged cycles of symphony and chamber concerts. Brothers Anton and Nicolai Rubinshtein established the Conservatoires in Moscow and Petersburg based on musical classes. The centre of musical life was 'Moguchaya Kuchka' - a group of yo8ung composers having radical views. They supported the ideas of the national character of culture, the ideas of artistic truth and the ideas of serving to society. M. Balakirev, C. Kim, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, M. Musorgsky, A. Borodin were among them.
Talented contemporaries and followers were grouped around that musical centre full of great ideas. Among them there was well-educated Alexander Sokolov, the author of the operas 'Enemy's Force', 'Rogneda', then Caesar Kyui - the author of subtle romances, who at the same time was 'an important general' teaching the art of fortification to Crown Prince. Alexander Glazunov - the author of many symphonies, became famous for his romantic ballet 'Rogneda'. Sergei Taneev - a thoughtful philosopher and Tshaikovsky's follower is well known as an expert in musical form. Among Russian musicians of the 19th century there are a lot of names worth mentioning.
In the 20th century musical culture developed greatly in the works of the two leaders, who managed to reflect an impetuous pathos of their restless epoch. A great pianist Sergei Rakhmaninov is the author of impulsive and emotional piano concertos and subtle 'etude - illustrations'. As for Alexander Skryabin he is considered to be a sensitive dreamer, who embodied bright, personal fantasies in his music.
However, the two experementators Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev, who were not afraid of new, sharp accords and timbres full of wild energy were the founders of music of the 20th century. Once they took part in 'Russian Seasons' held in Paris by Sergei Dyagilev and they stunned Europe with daring energy of their works - Stravinsky - with the ballets 'Petrushka' ('Punch') and 'Spring of Holy', with the opera 'Mavra' and Prokofiev - with the operas 'Love of Three Oranges', 'Fiery Angel', with the ballet 'Tale about a Fool' and with original piano pieces and concertos.
Moreover, during the first years of Soviet power both traditional and innovation trends went on developing.
Glazunov, Reingold Glier (the author of the ballets 'Red Poppy', 'Brazen Knight') and Michael Ippolitov-Ivanov can be referred to a traditional trend. Such 'vanguard' symphony composers as Nicolai Myaskovsky and young Dmitri Shostakovich are the representatives of the innovation trend.
In the 30s the Soviet Power directs its attention to 'mass culture'. So the authors of an optimistic choral song - Alexander Alexandrov, Issak Dunaevsky, Basil Soloviev-Sedoy play the first fiddle, whereas Shostakovich and Prokofiev, who returned from emigration were in disgrace.
What is more, musical life in the second half of the 20th century did not only bring back classical music of emigrants and nonconformists into concert halls but revealed new generations of talented innovators such as G. Sviridov, V. Gavrilin, R.Schedrin and even such extreme vanguard composers as Alfred Shnitke, Sofia Gaibadullina and Edison Denisov.