СКОМОРОХИ

Skomorokhi were the only performers in medieval times of oral, musical and dramatic pieces and they practiced their craft until the mid-seventeenth century. The root of the word “skomorokh” remains a mystery. Initially skomorokhi were the performers of historical songs; later on they expanded their scope, becoming unique actors who had a variety of skills such as playing music, singing, dancing, animal training, performing puppet shows, acrobatics, etc. Skomorokhi had a great political significance in the internal life of Old Russia, which lead to persecution first by the church and then by the government from the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the people’s need for music was so deep that these repressive mea-sures were not able to stop folk music. People’s neglect of folk music came later, when Peter the Great started his reforms and Russia was influenced by western culture. Folk art did not have any professional representatives therefore its development ceased under the influence of European music and this type of folk art took on new forms.

The idea to create this concert program came to us when we participated in the screening of the historical movie “Alexander. Nevskaya Bitva” devoted to the outstanding personality of Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263). In this movie members of the Drolls ensemble played the roles of skomorokhi and took part in recording music for the movie. The repertoire was chosen especially for the screening and it became a basis for the new concert program.