Pavel N. Kravchun The history of the organ in Russia
Het ORGEL 97 (2001), nr. 4, july/august 5-16 [summary]

Moskou, Conservatorium, Cavaille-Coll, 1899The first sign of organ culture in Russia is a document from the 11th century. In the 15th century, Moscow became the main city of Russia. Its organ culture was influenced by Italian, Dutch, German and English organ builders and musicians. The Orthodox Church banned organ music categorically. This did not prevent organ culture from becoming quite lively: it was characterised by secular music on relatively small organs.

Czar Peter moved Russia’s capital to St. Petersburg. Around 1700, he ordered Schnitger to build two organs. The organ became a church instrument now as well, as many western churches were founded in St. Petersburg. This development lasted until the revolution in 1917. Important organ builders were Franz Krisnik (1741-1802) and Georg Maelzel (1807-1866). After them, German organ builders like Ladegast, Sauer and Walcker built most organs. Cavaillé-Coll built only one organ, in the Conservatory at Moscow (1899).

After 1917, Russian social, cultural and spiritual life was minimised. Organs and organ music were neglected. A revival took place under Chroesjtsjov in the 1950s and 1960s; organ builders from Eastern Germany built some instruments, and organ music was taught again at several Russian conservatories.

The situation since 1989 is rather bad. Nevertheless, there are signs of hope: in the 1990s, several new organs were built, and the number of Russian organ builders, among them Pavel Tchilin in St. Petersburg, increases.