Stepan Smolensky (1848-1909)
SMOLENSKY, Stepan Vasil’yevich (b. 8  October 1848, Kazan’; d. 20 July [2 August] 1909, Vasil’sursk) — trained as a lawyer and a teacher of history, studied music on his own; directed a church choir in Kazan and studied ancient chant with the Old Ritualists. From 1889 through 1901 served as Director of the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing and professor of the Moscow Conservatory in Russian church singing. In 1901–03 was Director of the Imperial Court Chapel in St. Petersburg. In 1907 founded the Precentors’ School in St. Petersburg — the ﬁrst institution in Russia for preparing choral conductors with open admissions. Author of numerous monographs and articles in the history and theory of Russian church singing. Was responsible for assembling a vast collection of ancient Russian musical manuscripts (now at the State Historical Museum in Moscow). As a composer of sacred music, Smolensky composed relatively little: a Memorial Service for male chorus, “Litanies” and the “Paschal Stichera” in znamenny chant, “TRANSLITERATED TITLE” [“Praise the name of the Lord”] and “TRANSLITERATED TITLE” [“Who is so great a God?”] (all published privately); he also compiled a number of simple arrangements of common hymns for male chorus. Of much greater signiﬁcance is Smolensky’s influence on performance and compositional activity in the ﬁeld of Russian church music. The reforms he carried out at the Moscow Synodal School established the Synodal Choir on the highest artistic level and stimulated a number of composers to write works for the church, using ancient chants and indigineously Russian musical elements (e.g., counter-voice polyphony, a variable texture, modal harmony). Smolensky’s followers — A. D. Kastalsky, A. T. Grechaninov, P. G. Chesnokov, A. V. Nikolsky, and others — created an entirely new direction in Russian church music at the turn of the 20th c.
Stepan Smolensky All of Creation
Russian “Greek” Chant
Stepan Smolensky Paschal Stichera
Cherubic Hymn (Streletskaya)
Male Choir of the Moscow Representation Church of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery
St. Symeon Orthodox Church Choir (Birmingham, Alabama)