A gripping story
spanning 126 years
V.I. Safonov was born in 1852 in a Cossack Village in the region of Isherskiy Terskiy in the Cossack general I.I. Safonov`s family. Vasiliy Safonov had loved music since he was a child, during his education in Saint-Petersburg male gymnasium he took up piano classes with A.I. Villoing and T. Leschetizky and tried to make of music his life, but by his father`s will he first received the rank of 10th-class bureaucrat and was enrolled in the Soviet Ministry`s chancellery. However, against his father`s will, Safonov, after a few years of work, fired himself and entered Saint-Petersburg conservatory.
Having begun his music career quite late – he was 28 – Vasiliy Safonov became a brilliant musician with his own piano style, a talented conductor famous not only in Russia and a great pedagogue: among his students were famous masters, such as N. Medtner, A. Scriabin, A. Goedicke and others…
Every year V.I. Safonov came to Kislovodsk, here his parents lived, and saw how roughly the resort developed itself at the end of the XIX century.
It was him who convinced influential people on the need for the organization of a true professional concert business. Today the philharmonic Great hall, the Academic Symphonic Orchestra and the Philharmonic choir are all named after V.I. Safonov. So much in the Philharmonic and in the whole city of Kislovodsk is linked to Vitaliy Safonov`s name, and it is here that he found his last shelter: Safonov`s tomb is in Saint Nikolay Church`s territory.
“Kursal`s” exclusive project was ready on the summer of 1892. One year later the project was refined by the talented architect Valerian Vasilyevich Gusyev, who had worked under Saint-Petersburg`s management of Vladikavkaz railway`s shareholder society, which financed the construction of the building for the “students` entertainment organization”. Already in 1893 the construction of the “Resort Hall” in Kislovodsk was committed to the Russian engineer with Belgian origins, Evgeniy Ivanovich Deskubes (Eugène Descube), who became, as a consequence, a famous architect and constructor of many architectural creations in the south of Russia. The Kislovodsk “Kursal” was created according to the tradition of European resort music buildings. Here there were a great theatre hall, a library, a restaurant, comfortable foyers – everything for the leisure of the resort public.
Today this building keeps on enchanting with its look: two towers on the front facade with silver-scaled cupolas, rich and elegant wall decorations, the interesting combination of white, grey and red colours – “Kursal`s” law of Beauty and Harmony plays an important role in the life of the “Mineral Waters” region. Since the beginning of its history, it was clear that the philharmonic`s events are characterized by a high artistic level.
Here Feodor Chaliapin and Leonid Sobinov used to sing, Isadora Duncan and Mathilde Kschessinska used to dance, there were concerts by the pianist and compositor Sergey Rachmaninoff, the orchestra was conducted by famous conductors such as Vasiliy Safonov, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, Alexander Glazunov, Serge Koussevitzky, drama theatre artists Vera Komissarzhevskaya, Maria Savina, Mamont Dal`skiy used to act and Alexander Kuprin used to read his stories.
In its recent history, Kursal has hosted great musicians. Here Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, David Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan used to play, the orchestra has been conducted by Yuri Simonov, Yevgeny Mravinsky, Kirill Kondrashin and there were popular artists` concerts: Leonid Utesov, Eddie Rosner, Anatoliy Badkhen and many others.
The Philharmonic`s official birth date is considered to be 1895. This is the year in which the famous “Resort hall” (rus. Kurortnyj Sal = Kursal), the main building of the Philharmonic, was built in Kislovodsk, and also the year in which a stable symphonic orchestra, called nowadays “Academic Symphonic Orchestra V.I. Safonov” was organized. The idea for the creation of such a fine and highly-qualified concert enterprise belonged to the outstanding Russian musician Vasiliy Il`ych Safonov, at that time being the director of the Moscow conservatory and chairman of the Moscow department of the Russian Music Society and being very concerned about educational development.
In 1972, one more concert hall was added to the main building of the “Kursal”, in which are played symphonic and chamber concerts. After the reconstruction in 2000, the hall welcomes the public with its white-azure interior and its sculpture made by the Hounored Artist of Russia Gurgen Kuregyan. The hall was given the name of one of Safonov`s best students: Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin.