Tchaikovsky Concert Hall : Moscow State Philharmonic Society

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Getting to the Hall

Metro: Mayakovskaya

Address: Triumfalnaya square, 4

Ticket office: 9 AM through 10 PM


April 6, 2 p.m.
April 6, 7 p.m.
April 7, 7 p.m.
April 7, 7 p.m.
April 9, 7 p.m.
April 10, 2 p.m.
April 11, 7 p.m.
April 12, 2 p.m.
April 12, 7 p.m.
April 14, 7 p.m.

О зале

Tchaikovsky Concert Hall is more than 70 years old. Its building, on Triumphalnaya Square, at the intersection of Tverskaya Street and the Garden Ring, was constructed on the site occupied at the beginning of the 20th century by the famous Bouffe-Miniature Theatre of Charles Aumon, then by a theatre known as Zon and after the Bolshevik Revolution by the Theatre of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Opposite it was one of Moscow’s first cinemas, the House of Khanzhonkov (in later times, the Moskva cinema), and next door, where the Satire Theatre stands today, was the popular circus of the Nikitin brothers and later the Music Hall.

 The Meyerhold Era

In 1922, the old building was turned over to the Meyerhold Theater (the “TIM”) and for ten years was home to productions by the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. In 1932, the TIM moved to the premises now occupied by the Yermolova Theatre, while on Triumphal Square there began serious rebuilding and reconstruction in accordance with the concepts of the director. Meyerhold wanted to construct a transformable stage of an unprecedented kind in which changes of scene could be made with the speed of lightning. A principal goal was to do away with the “footlight effect” and erase the boundary between actors and audience. The theatrical arena was to consist of two circular platforms capable of revolving and being raised and lowered – a large one (the present stage) and a small one (today’s parterre) – thereby allowing the action to move from one locale to another.

Nothing was to be allowed to hinder contact with the audience, even an orchestra. There was to be no orchestra pit. The musicians were to be placed in the second and third tiers. A ceiling of milky white glass was to permit daylight to enter. In the place where an organ would usually be located, there were to be doors to the dressing rooms, with the actors entering directly from them to the stage. The monumentalism of the era found expression in plans for a passageway through the hall for automobiles and crowds of demonstrators. For performances without an intermission, it was proposed beverages be served and smoking allowed. A person was not supposed to suffer discomfort while giving his attention to new forms of art.

The architecture of the hall was complimented by the composition and details of the foyer – the lobbies, the winter garden with its fountain, the staircases of white marble and black labradorite and the circular buffet on the first floor. And though the tragic events at the 1930s put an end to the creative plans of Meyerhold – he was arrested in 1939 and executed in February 1940 – much of what arose from his imagination remains alive today. Meyerhold and his team of architects – Alexei Shchusev, Mikhail Barkhin and Sergei Vakhtangov (son of the famed actor and director Yevgeny Vakhtangov) – had succeeded by 1938 in constructing the shell of the building in brick and concrete. Yet to be completed were its decoration and façade.

After Meyerhold’s theater was closed, the unfinished building was transformed into a concert hall. The interior was completed in 1940 and the hall, named in honor of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, was opened on October 12 of that year with a gala concert honoring the 100th anniversary of the great composer’s birth.

In the construction of the hall, much remained of the original project. One may say that the way it appears today is due in no small measure to Meyerhold and his ideas. In particular, Meyerhold’s concept took as its inspiration the theaters of Ancient Greece, in which the stage “embraced” the audience on three sides and the public was seated in an amphitheater, which ensured a superb view of the stage.

In 1938, the Metro station “Mayakovskaya” was opened in the northeast corner of the building. It received worldwide recognition and its architectural design was awarded a Grand Prize at the New York World’s Fair. Since the 1980s, the station has been classified as an architectural monument and since 2001 it has been included in the list of especially valuable historical and cultural objects.

The First Sounds of Music

Tchaikovsky Hall enjoyed success from its very first days. At its opening, the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR, led by Alexander Gauk and Konstantin Ivanov, performed and accompanied symphonic and vocal works by Tchaikovsky. Among the musicians who appeared during the hall’s first season were Nikolai Golovanov, Alexander Melik-Pashayev, Yevgeny Mravinsky, Natan Rakhlin, Konstantin Igumov, Vladimir Sofronitsky, Emil Gilels, Yakov Fliyer, Yakov Zak, David Oistrakh, Svyatoslav Knushevitsky, Maria Maksakova, Sergei Lemeshev and Ivan Kozlovsky. A concert performance of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio was presented, as well as an evening of works by Sergei Prokofiev.  Also taking the stage, among others, were the Igor Moiseyev Folk Dance Ensemble, the Pyatnitsky Choir and the Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments under the direction of Nikolai Osipov.

A venerable organ made by the E. F. Walker firm of Ludwigsburg, Germany, was installed in the hall. Previously, from 1839, the organ had stood in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on the Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg and, in the 1860s, had been played by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

The War Years

At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, many musicians were called up to serve in the army. Others chose to serve voluntarily. Those who remained in Moscow became members of the frontline concert brigade. In the autumn of 1941, an anti-aircraft gun was placed on the roof of Tchaikovsky Hall.

Nevertheless, concert activity continued. In 1941–42, daytime concerts took place in the still undamaged building and a concert was performed on the platform of the “Mayakovskaya” Metro station at ceremonies in celebration of the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution. During the war years, some 1,500 concerts took place at Tchaikovsky Hall. Among them were appearances by the Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments, the Igor Moiseyev Folk Dance Ensemble, the Pyatnitsky Choir, the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble and the Sveshnikov Choir. There were even evenings of ballet as well.

The Postwar Decades

Following the war, Tchaikovsky Hall was gradually transformed into a multi-functional concert venue. Performances in concert form of Prokofiev’s War and Peace and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly alternated with piano recitals by Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. Premieres were given of works by Soviet composers, many with participation of the composers themselves. “Pushkin Readings” took place, as did celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the funding of Moscow. The hall played host to performances by numerous choral and folk dance ensembles, ballet soloists and gala evenings with the best of Moscow’s theaters and such beloved actresses as Lyubov Orlova and Vera Maretskaya and masters of variety theater like Lidia Ruslanova, Klavdia Shulzhenko and Arkady Raykin. Evenachesschampionshipwasheldthere. In 1947, the hall was used as a location for the film “The First Glove.”

A number of superb ensembles were formed during the postwar years, including the Symphony Orchestra of the Moscow Philharmonic, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the Borodin String Quartet. The year 1965 was marked by the appearance of Madrigal, the country’s first baroque ensemble.

In 1950, the hall was decorated with the coat of arms of the USSR and the building itself was transferred to the management of the Moscow Philharmonic Society.

In 1959, a new organ, constructed by the Czechoslovak firm of Rieger-Kloss, was installed in the hall. Organ concerts still regularly take place and the organ itself is considered to be one of the finest in Russia.  

Since 1962, the hall has been a principal venue of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. The Dmitry Shostakovich International String Quartet Competition took place there in 1999 and 2004 and the Yury Bashmet International Viola Competition in 2006.

The New Century

The beginning of the third millennium brought with it renewal and restoration of the hall, above all in respect of its acoustics, the most important requirement for high-quality performance and perception of classical music. New seats were installed and the floor restored. An idea put forward by Meyerhold was resurrected, namely, that of a dismountable parterre, which allows it to be used for chamber concerts and as a place for the orchestra in staged performances of opera. Corrections were made to the sound with the installation of acoustic panels, as well as of an electronic system for correcting acoustic parameters. The electronic system is the first of its kind in Russia and has provided Tchaikovsky Hall with acoustics that rank among the finest to found in any hall in Russia. Moreover, the system allows correction of the acoustics according to the requirements of different types of music, whether it be symphonic, vocal, chamber, organ or some other musical genre.

   A New Hall

During the season of 2007–2008, the Moscow Philharmonic Society opened a 98-seat Chamber Hall. There reigns the spirit of discovery and experimentation, with performances of early and contemporary music, encounters with composers and literary evenings. The hall also serves to help launch the careers of young soloists.

The year 2008 marked a critical turning point in the history of Tchaikovsky Hall. Work began on restoring it to its original appearance, taking into account modern requirements in the construction and restoration of concert halls. In the course of restoration, the original floor of the entrance foyer, made of poured concrete with bits of marble, was uncovered. The distinctive feature of the floor is its rays of color extending from one column to another. In addition, the columns of the foyer were restored, as well as the portals, lamps and entire lighting system, and superfluous partitions were removed, allowing one to see the foyer’s original architecture. Also restored were the mirrored columns and the banquettes that served as an integral part of the foyer’s decoration. Glass doors, in no way visually detracting from the architectural arrangement of the foyer, were installed in replacement of the former heavy wooden doors. The bust of Tchaikovsky was returned to its original location. In carrying out the work, the management of the Philharmonic Society and the restorers received important help from members of the public who had preserved photographs and descriptions of the historical appearance of the building and the hall. The work of restoration is due to continue in the future.

For generations of Muscovites, Tchaikovsky Hall has been a part of their very lives. In carrying out restoration work and improvement of the hall’s acoustics, the Moscow Philharmonic Society has paid its respects to the past and looks forward to the future – to the future of music and to the future of each and every listener. 

Rieger-Kloss Organ Tchaikovsky Concert Hall

Tchaikovsky Concert Hall has sported an organ from the very first days of its operation. In 1940 the venue housed an instrument manufactured by Germany’s E. F. Walcker that had been previously located at St. Peter and Paul’s cathedral in St. Petersburg. It was one of the best organs of its period that had been used to train students of St. Petersburg Conservatory, including Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky himself. However, the instrument was seriously damaged when it was disassembled and shipped to Moscow. Upon completion of numerous stages of repair and restoration the first performance took place only in November of 1947 (Hugo Lepnurm, Estonia). The next decade wasn’t kind to the organ which was rarely performed on.

Mid 1950s spawned a whirlwind of interest in the art of organ performance: a standing commission on pipe organ manufacturing was formed within the framework of the USSR Ministry of Culture, many music schools started to offer organ performance classes. The Soviet organ production boom has begun! And the first product to be manufactured was the unique Tchaikovsky Concert Hall organ.

The idea of substituting the Walcker organ for a modern one belonged to Jiří Reinberger, a Czech organist, who performed in Moscow in 1956. Mitrofan Belotserkovsky, Director of Moscow Philharmonic Society, ordered the acquisition of the new pipe organ. Leonid Roizman, an outstanding Soviet organist and the Chair of the aforementioned commission, advised to choose Rieger-Kloss company from Czechoslovakia as a manufacturer of the instrument. Their craftsmen have tackled this challenge brilliantly: they manufactured a state-of-the-art versatile instrument capable of performing music of different periods and music styles; until 2003 it had been the largest organ in Moscow and still is one of the largest in Russia. It took eight specially designed railcars to ship the instrument from Czechoslovakia to the USSR.

The organ was inaugurated on September 26, 1959. Jiří Reinbergerwas given the honor of being the first performer playing pieces by Purcell, Bach, Franck, Dupré, Hindemith, Eben, Sokol and his own transcription of Shostakovich’s prelude and fugue for piano. The Tchaikovsky Concert Hall is tightly integrated with the entire history of modern-day organ performance art in Russia. Within the last 60 years music fans from Moscow have been exposed to organists from essentially all countries of Europe, as well as from USA and Canada. This list features some top performers: Ernst Köhler, an organist and composer from Germany, founder of Leipzig Bach Festival; Hannes Kästner, organist at St. Thomas Church, Leipzig; Flor Peeters, Jean Guillou, Guy Bovet, Olivier Latry, Hugo Lepnurm, Leopoldas Digrys and other outstanding musicians.

A number of generations grew up attending organ performances at Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. Numerous years the public enjoyed organ performances by Garry Grodberg (available through subscription packages), one of the greatest organists of his time. Presently, the main hall of Moscow Philharmonic Society routinely features festivals of organ music and performances by leading Russian and international masters. Nine Centuries of Organ Music and Music for Organ and Orchestra series (available through subscription) enjoy great popularity with the public as well.

The organ of Tchaikovsky Concert Hall has 4 keyboards, a pedal board and 81 stops. Its dimensions: length 11 m, width 6 m, height 8 m. Internally the organ comprises 3 ranks housing 7,800 pipes: the largest average 6,5 m in height, 2,6 m in diameter and weight up to 220 kg; the smallest – 20 mm in height, their diameter equivalent to a match head size.

The initial organ specifications were designed by Jiří Reinbergerin collaboration with Leonid Roizman. Later the instrument twice received an overhaul: in 1970 and 1977 when Garry Grodberg initiated a significant change in organ specifications and an increase in organ stops. The unique lineup of voices makes it possible to use the organ to perform Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque music, including pieces by Spanish composers, pieces by German, French and British authors of the Romantic period, as well music composed in 20-21 centuries.

The Tchaikovsky Concert Hall pipe organ still remains one the best in Russia. It’s part of Russia’s national heritage and an important historic artefact (both technologically and artistically). It’s exterior epitomizes its era: the austere façade of the instrument fits in perfectly with stark outlines of the stage creating the feeling of completeness and grandeur.


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