Aldeburgh-BoatCenter for New Technology in the Arts “Art-parkING”
Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatoire

British Council Russia, British Consulate-General in St. Petersburg

Britain and the British in World Culture. Celebrating Benjamin Britten’s Centenary
International Conference
St. Petersburg, 31st October – 1st November 2013

The Conference Organisers:

Liudmila Kovnatskaya (Dr, Professor of the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory, Member of International Musicological Society Directorium, Honoured Art Worker of the Russian Federation, the Organising Committee Chair)
Mikhail Gantvarg (Professor, Rector of the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory, Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation)
Lidia Volchek (Chief of the Glazunov Hall at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory, Director of the International Conservatory Week festival, Honoured Cultural Worker of the Russian Federation)
Lidia Ader (Senior researcher of the N. Rimsky-Korsakov Museum-Apartment, Artistic director of the Center for New Technology in the Arts “Art-parkING”)
Nataly Kolesova (Commercial director of the Center for New Technology in the Arts “Art-parkING”)


On 31 October – 1 November, the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory named after Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov will be hosting a two-day international conference called Britain and the British in World Culture. This event is dedicated to the centenary of the great 20th century British composer Benjamin Britten. The conference has been conceived to be dialogue between musicology, art history and cultural history. A central theme will be how Britain and her people have been portrayed in various trends, spiritual movements and artistic styles, covering all kinds of arts, including music, literature, theatre, architecture, sculpture and cinematography.

“Not only England, but every Englishman is an island” (Novalis, 1799). The reception of this country, its people and culture has inspired memoirs, essays, books, articles, plays and films. Such a range of material offers potential for a wide range of conference topics.

The symbolism of the homonyms – Britten and Britain – allows us to put the British Britten at the heart of the conference. Intercultural and intertextual connections will be made by reflecting the multifaceted phenomenon of “Britishness” in British culture.

The Conference forms part of the XIII International Conservatory Week festival, opening with a performance of one of Benjamin Britten’s masterpieces, Spring Symphony.

Center for New Technology in the Arts “Art-parkING”

Welcome Speeches 

Richard Jarman (General Director, the Britten-Pears Foundation)

Benjamin Britten had a close relationship, both personally and as a composer, with the great Soviet musicians of his time, notably Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sviatoslav Richter. He loved the music of Russia and visited the country several times, including a trip to Leningrad, where he visited the famous N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory and met with students.

So Britten would be delighted that in the year of his Centenary an important academic conference will take place at the Conservatory, bringing together so many people from different cities to discuss his work and listen to his music.

The Britten-Pears Foundation, based at the Red House, the home in Aldeburgh which Britten shared with Peter Pears, now looks after the legacy of the two men and holds the most comprehensive archive in the world devoted to a single composer. Britten’s reputation around the world has never stood higher and he is generally considered one of the great composers of the 20th century, alongside Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Stravinsky. So we welcome a conference such as this, which will help to deepen understanding of his music.

I send greetings to you from Aldeburgh and hope that you have a very enjoyable few days thinking about our great composer!


31 October, Thursday

Venue: St. Petersburg State Conservatory
9.30–10.00 Registration.

10.00 – Opening of the Conference. Greetings from Liudmila Kovnatskaya, Mikhail Gantvarg
10.15 – 11.00 – Liudmila Kovnatskaya (St. Petersburg, Russia). Britten: A Private Person and His Empire (keynote lecture)
11.00 – 11.30 – Stuart Campbell (Glasgow, Scotland). Of Islands and Continents: Britten’s Cycles of Solo Songs in Twentieth-Century British Culture
11.30 – 12.00 – Tanya Sirotina (London, Great Britain). The Vocal Sound World of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

12.00 – 13.00 – Excursion at the Conservatory

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch

14.00 – 14.40 – Andrey Mikhailov (St. Petersburg, Russia). England and the English in the Perception of Russian Politics and Society at the Turn of the 20th century: From Opposition to the Union
14.40 – 15.10 – Leonid Menshikov (St. Petersburg, Russia). ‘Englishness’ as a Puzzle in the Images of Postmodernity
15.10 – 15.40 – Natalya Shipulina (Volgograd, Russia). Real-anthropological Elements of British Culture: Reality and Stereotypes

15.40 – 16.00 Coffee-break

16.00 – 16.30 – Rūta Stanevičiūtė (Vilnius, Lithuania). ISCM, Edward Dent, and Multiple Perspectives on Modern Music in 1930s
16.30 – 17.00 – Olga Nikiforova (Petrozavodsk, Russia). Semantic Worlds of William Blake in the Vocal Music of Dmitry Smirnov
17.00 – 17.30 – Serob Grigoryan (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Pink Floyd and the Dramaturgy of Concerts. The Impact of Sound and Light on the Psychological State of the Listener

Venue: Sheremetev Palace
18.15 – Excursion
19.00 – Concert: Tribute to Britten

1 November, Friday

Venue: St. Petersburg State Conservatory

11.00 – 11.30 – Irina Mishina (St. Petersburg, Russia). Aesthetic Guidelines of the British Culture
11.30 – 12.10 – Irina Golovacheva (St. Petersburg, Russia). Non/returnees: English Artistic Bohemia and Absconding to America in the Late 1930s
12.10 – 12.40 – Pyotr Bagrov (St. Petersburg, Russia). The Avant-Garde as a State Order: GPO Film Unit and Leningrad’s ‘Parallel Cinema’ of the 1930s
12.40 – 13.10 – Anna Petrova (St. Petersburg, Russia). English St. Petersburg in Onegin by Martha Fiennes

13.10 – 14.30 – Lunch

14.30 – 15.30 – Elizabeth Wilson (Torino, Italy). Benjamin Britten’s Last Trip to the USSR
15.30 – 16.00 – Larissa Chirkova (St. Petersburg, Russia). The History of a Friendship: Based on Materials from the Family Archive of Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya

16.00 – 16.30 – Coffee-break

16.30 – 17.00 – Guang-rui Lu (Fújiàn, China). The Great Paean of Victory and Peace after the Anti-fascist World War II. Britten: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
17.00 – 17.30 Imani Mosley (North Carolina, USA). “Did They Expect Some Kind of… Merrie England?” Nationalism, the New Elizabethans, and the Concert Music of Gloriana
17.30 – 18.00 Sarah C. Borgatti (Massachusetts, USA). “I Hear Those Voices That Will not be Drowned”: The Madness of Peter Grimes

19.00 Concert

(Opening of the International Conservatory Week festival)

Academic posters:

Yulia Ten (Rostov on Don, Russia). Symbolic System of Great Britain Culture

Olga Lonshakova (St. Petersburg, Russia). Henry James’ Novel as a Basis of Benjamin Britten’s Opera The Turn of the Skrew