Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Church Slavonic: Russian's Religious Brother

Church Slavonic is a language from the Slavic family that is used for the liturgy (music, prayers, etc.) of many Orthodox Churches, including the vast majority of Russian Orthodox parishes.  Originally written in Glagolitic script, the Cyrillic script took prominence and has been used since at least 1491.  Up until the 18th century, Church Slavonic was not exclusively a liturgical language but also used in other forms or Russian literature and thus has been regarded by some as a higher form of Russian.

While Russian uses the same alphabet and shares words with Church Slavonic, some differences in pronunciation are noteworthy:

  • There is no vowel reduction, so "е" and "о" are pronounced the same under stress and not under stress
  • No word-final devoicing
  • The letter ё does not exist
  • The letter г can be pronounced as a voiced fricative velar sound or devoiced to a [х] sound as in Бог, often pronounced [Бох]
  • The г in the endings -его and -ого is pronounced as written instead of as a [v] sound as it is pronounced in standard Russian.
Check out this sample of a Russian Orthodox litany sung in Church Slavonic.  It may be a bit difficult to follow in some places, but pay particular attention to the lack of vowel reduction and the pronunciation of -его and -ого.

Vladimir Putin: More Bad Ass Than You.

Vladimir Putin is way more bad ass than you could ever hope to be.

He goes hunting. Shirtless. In Russia.

He holds hands. With Tigers.
He rides motorcycles. In Russia.
He drives race cars. In Russia.
He goes bowling. In Russia.
He and George W. Bush once wore the same outfit. Vlad wore it best.
He breaks sticks with his knees.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Operas of Mikhail Glinka

     Russian composer Mikhail Glinka is widely known as the father of Russian music. His compositions   are often considered to be the first to really display traditional Russian song to the rest of the world. He was also apart of the Russian Five (a group of composers in the mid 1800's  known for their original Eastern European style of writing). Glinka wrote two specifically great operas, A Life for a Tsar, and Ruslan and Lyudmila. A Life for a Tsar's plot involved a typical heroic Russian character named Ivan Susanin. This character gives his life for his country when the Polish invade. I find that often Russian operas have this ongoing theme of Patriotism and "This is my country!" kind of business.  His other popular opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila, is an opera in 5 acts based off of a poem by Alexander Pushkin. This opera received most of it's fame and glory by it's extremely popular Overture. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Melnitsa (Урок 4)


Melnitsa (Мельница) is a Russian folk rock band that was formed in 1999. Its frontwoman, Natalia O'Shea (née Nikolayeva), is an academic with a PhD of philological science. She is considered an expert in medieval Indo-European languages, particularly with regard to Celtic languages. 

She is often an instructor at Lomonosov Moscow State University, but her academic career is on and off with her spending most of her time in Switzerland or Ireland. As can be guessed by her name, she is married to an Irishman -- particularly, a diplomat.

Melnitsa's music is exclusively in Russian, though Celtic themes and instruments are often times included. Instruments include a cello, two acoustic guitars, bass, flute, percussion, harp, and vocals.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Portfolio 4

Caroline Brazelton
Blog Entry
Portfolio 4

Russian Folk Dances have always been apart of the Russian culture. Exemplifying the traditional dances of both the Slovenian and Tatar origins.  Many of the first dances appeared around the turn of the 10th century.  This was of course as the Slavic tribes moved into Russia. These Russian dances reflect greatly on the source of classes.  As in the upper class was the audience as the middle and lower classes typically performed it.
 They would make their own costumes as well, given that this was a very important detail of the performance. These costumes had many deep yet bright and vivid colors, often times this color is red.  The women would sometimes wear headdresses and an embroidered shirt, but most especially an ornamented apron.  The men were know to wear narrow pants with their shirts and high boots.
Today,  the dances continue to play a very pertinent part in the Russian culture. Evoking the beauty of tradition into an every day existence.

YPOK 4 BLOG: Russian versus American Education

There are numerous statistical differences between Russian and American schools. First of all, not a huge difference but notable; Russian’s compulsory secondary education is eleven years whereas in the United States it is twelve years. Next the United States education spending (percent GDP) is 50% higher than Russia’s United States spends 17.1% while Russia spends 11.5%. An interesting fact about tertiary education in Russia is that women lead in enrollment with 57%. In addition more than half of the Russian adult population has attained a tertiary education. This is two times that of the OECD average.

            In the United States it is common to either complete the twelve years o school and go on to get a job or go to a college or university. In Russia, students have the option, upon completion of a nine-year program, to either complete the remaining two years or transfer to a specialized professional training school.

            Lastly in Russia there are two successive postgraduate degrees. These degrees are kandidat nauk (Candidate of science) and doktor nauk (Doctor of science). It is important to note that both are a certificate of scientific, not academic, achievement.


Leon Theremin

Leon Theremin (Lev Sergeyevich Termen) was born on August 27, 1896, in St. Petersberg, Russia. His family was French and German. As a child and even more so a high school student, Leon was interested in science, specifically electricity. He experimented with many different things, and even built a million volt Tesla Coil in his laboratory. As a student he met several famous scientists, most notably a physicist named Abram Ioffe, and they began to look into working together. At this point WWI began in full swing and Theremin was required to serve in the army. Through the army he received advanced education and rose to moderate prominence within the armed forces. He worked mainly on radio stations for the war and seems to have spent WWI and the entire Russian Civil War involved in that field. After the war he continued working with Ioffe. He worked there for a while, inventing many diverse things, including, accidentally, the theremin, which became the first mass produced instrument, as well as the first electronic instrument. The theremin came about on accident when Theremin was trying to figure out some legitimate scientific concept. For some reason this was pretty popular with people and spread throughout Europe and the United States. He went on to travel widely and eventually moved to the US where he invented a number of other interesting things, and greatly improved television. He later married and African-American ballerina. Soon afterwards he was kidnapped back to the Soviet Union and imprisoned in a Gulag. While incarcerated, he invented what he is possibly best known for, aside from the strange instrument that shares his name, which is known as "The Thing". This was a sophisticated listening device used by the KGB during the Soviet era. After the end of the Soviet years he worked on instruments for a while until it was declared that electricity and music should not mix. He spent some of his late years traveling, even performing at the Hague. He died in Russia in 1993.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Kamchatka is a peninsula off the east coast of Russia and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Okhotsk Sea. It is predominately a mountainous region and has many volcanoes that are either active or extinct.  In total there are 30 active volcanoes and around 150 extinct volcanoes. The peninsula has the tallest volcano on the continent; called Klyuchevskoy Volcano that is 4750m above sea level. Kamchatka is an interesting place to observe since volcanoes are constantly being created in the area. The snow on the mountains does not melt until mid-July, giving winter athletes time to enjoy the snow.  This area also holds the title of most densely populated area of brown bears and having the only geyser field in Eurasia.

After nearly 150 years of silence from the extravagant Johann Strasser clock, the clock is set to ring again in 2014, after repairs have been made, to celebrate the 250th year anniversary of the State Hermitage Museum. The clock, also named, “the Mechanical Orchestra” is housed in the museum, located in St. Petersburg, Russia. Work on the clock began in 1793 by Johann Georg Strasser and was completed in 1801. The clock was built for Tsar Paul I, but before the clock was completed, the tsar was killed. Strasser then decided to organize a lottery in order to make a profit off of his craft. After taking two years to sell the tickets, the lottery was financially feasible. The winning ticket was that of a young officer who was staying with a Latvian widow. He gave the ticket to her as a gift. When she discovered that she had won, she decided not to keep the clock and instead sold it to Tsar Alexander I for 20,000 rubles in addition to a lifetime pension. The clock is now in the State Hermitage Museum and restoration will be completed in time for the clock to ring once again for the 250th year anniversary of the museum in 2014.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Снегу́рочка (The Snow Maiden)

Снегу́рочка (The Snow Maiden) is a well-known Russian fairy tale that has been rewritten in many versions, from operas to films. For example, one version details of how two old couples (which couldn't have children), made a daughter out of snow and the snow daughter came to life. (To read more about this version, visit this link: http://clover.slavic.pitt.edu/tales/snow_maiden.html)

The other heard and decided to watch was based on a Russian Soviet animated film from 1952. The film was directed and produced by Иван Иванов-Вано (Ivan Ivanov-Vano). The animated film was adopted from the opera (which made me wonder if the author of this version of the opera was Nokolai Rimsky-Korsakov or Aleksandr Ostrovsky).

(summary plus spoiler)

The film begins when Spring and Frost (mystical beings) had a small talk of how they should let their Snegurochka, their daughter, live. Should they let her live with humans or let her live forever alone, and trapped in the forest? Making their final decision Frost calls his daughter. Snergurochka comes. Frost and Spring asked their daughter if she'd love to live among the humans. Snegurchoka, with such joy replied yes--she had always wanted to live with humans, and especially, be close to her beloved Shepard Lel. For she had loved how the Shepard Lel sang his song and have heard that he was the most handsome man. Frost was shocked and worried for his daughter safety--so he asked the goblins of the forest to watch over her (for he feared that the humans will hurt and destroy his daughter's cold being). So, Snegurchoka left the forest and have decided to live with two old couple. The months have passed, the land still had this long, unusal winter and Snegurchoka still couldnt get used to living with humans. But she didn't mind, for she liked how Lel sang his songs. In the film, Lel had tried attempting to woo Snegurchoka but, with her cold expression and emotion, she gave up and wooed other womens. This had made Snegurchoka feel uneasy. Then, Kupava and Mizugir appeared into the scene--the two are meant to wed and yet, Mizugir fell in love with Snegurchoka. Kupava fell into despair, wanting to kill herself, Lel stopped her--telling her that no one as pretty as she is, needs to die and he advised her to see the Tsar of the land. Before Kupava appeared to the Tsar, the Tsar and his friend had a talk of how the land had less spring and sun--they believed that the land was cursed by something. Then Kupava appeared before the Tsar and told her of how her husband has betrayed her and that Snegurchoka was to blame. The Tsar then summoned all the villagers and Mizugir. Asking, in front of the entire whole village, if he betrayed his wife Mizugir replied yes. With that, he was exiled--however, before the punishment can be decreed on him, Snegurchoka came into the palace. Looking at all the paintings on the wall with awe, the Tsar approached the girl and had asked if she had ever been in love. And because she is a Snow Maiden who has no heart, she replied no. With a reply like that, the Tsar had commanded anyone who'd show Snegurchoka love. Mizugir and Lel accepted the proposal. However, Lel had no interest in Snegurchoka anymore, he had fallen for Kupava. Snegurchoka was devisated and in pain, running away, she called her mother Spring. Spring came. Snegurchoka asked her mother to give her a heart. Spring said no at first but, hearing her daughter's plea, Spring then bestowed Snegurchoka a flower diadem that soon gave her a heart. Snegurchoka was filled with many emotions--such as happiness, love. Spring told her daughter that the first human man she'll see, she'll fall in love with and her that she must not appear in front of the Sun (or Sun God) or else she would melt. Snegurchoka understood--and who appeared before her was Mizugir. The two of them fell in love and Snegurchoka told Mizugir that she wanted to be married. So the two of them went back to the Tsar and in front of the whole village, told the Tsar that the wished to married. The Tsar accepted. Suddenly, as the Tsar proclaimed their marriage final, the Sun appeared. Snegurchoka with such joy and happiness melted. Mizugir was so devistated that he jumped off a cliff and chose death just so he can be with her. The whole village, Lel, and the Tsar were in shock. But, they did not mourn for their death, instead, they all sang and were glad that the cold days had ended.

The film was very tragic. I believed that Snegurchoka did love Lel but was unaware of how love can be expressed in many ways. Lel was just a player who didn't care for Snegurchoka. Mizugir was a hopeless man who I think was the one who cared for Snegurchoka the most--he loved her so much that he died just to be with her...but it makes me wonder if he actually loved her or if he was obessed with her. As for Kupava, she was just an innocent victim and bystander. As for Snegurchoka's death, I would've liked to know and see how Spring and Frost felt when they heard that their only daughter died.

I'd recommed anyone to see this movie, it was pretty good (links down here have English Subs, but be warned, sometimes the subs get repeated accidently--this is a technology error the user didn't fix).

The Snow Maiden (animated film 1952) Part 1


The Snow Maiden (animated film 1952) Part 2



Russia's Disney Land

Divo Ostrov (Wonder Island) is a theme park in St. Petersburg. Designed after Disney Land, it is now the biggest and newest of its kind in Russia. With 34 rides and attractions, there is fun for all ages. However, many of the rides here are much more extreme than in America. Take the "Wind Shear" for example.

Riders are taken to heights of 26m and are rotated at speeds of 9 rpm. The machine turns clockwise on one side and counterclockwise on the other, leaving visitors feeling nauseous after a two and a half minute spin.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Russian Bears

The Russian Bear-
The Russian bear is a widespread symbol for Russia. It is used in cartoons, articles, and dramatic plays since the 17th century. Here are some cute pictures of bears that live in Russia!

unit 4