Galina Vishnevskaya

Biography

Born: October 25, 1926   Died: December 10, 2012; Moscow, Russia  
Galina Pavolovna Vishnievskaya became the most exciting soprano to emerge in the Soviet Union after World War II. She had a major career on the Bolshoi stage, cruelly cut short due to the political beliefs of her and her husband.

She had a strong and attractive natural voice and was originally taken to be a mezzo-soprano. During World War II, she sang incessantly for the troops while studying privately with Vera Garina in
Read more Leningrad. She began singing in operetta in 1944 and was, in general, regarded as a light music specialist. When her true vocal range was discovered, however, she developed a powerful, highly dramatic voice with unique personal coloration and the capability of the most intense expression. She was appointed a soloist for the Leningrad Philharmonic and then joined Moscow's Bolshoi Theater in 1952. Her dramatic voice, strikingly beautiful appearance, and wide range as an actress made her the house's leading star in very short order. On a tour in Czechoslovakia, she was intensely wooed by the young cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, as recounted in her autobiography Galina: A Russian Story (New York, 1984).

She sang in all the major dramatic soprano parts of the standard Western repertoire (Butterfly, Tosca, Violetta, Aida, Leonore, and Liu), in addition to Russian roles like Tatyana (Yevgeny Onegin), Kupava (Snegurochka), Natasha (War and Peace), Sofiya (Semyon Kotko), and Marfa (Khovanshchina). Many of these were recorded by the Soviet state recording and broadcasting companies. Some of her roles were preserved on television and in films. She made international debuts (the Met, La Scala, Covent Garden, etc.) between 1961 and 1964. At the same time, English composer Benjamin Britten wrote the soprano part in his War Requiem specifically for her. However, Soviet authorities withheld permission for her to leave the country. She was permitted to go to London a few months later to participate in the classic composer-led performance of the work. Later, Britten wrote a Russian-language Pushkin song cycle, The Poet's Echo, for her and her husband in Rostropovich's largely unrecognized capacity as a recital pianist.

Meanwhile, she also showed herself as a great recitalist, particularly in the songs of the Russian masters, including Shostakovich, who wrote his Seven Romances for her. In 1966, she appeared on film in the title role of Shostakovich's opera Katerina Ismailova, one of her greatest performances. Shostakovich wrote the soprano part of his Symphony No. 14 for her, and she sang at its premiere in 1969. Her recording of it is a gramophone classic.

She and Rostropovich supported the Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his struggles with Soviet officialdom, even sheltering him in their summer house. Once again, official pressure against them tightened and ultimately, both musicians found their bookings canceled, and Vishnievskaya was expelled from the Bolshoi. Vishnievskaya lost valuable years of her artistic prime in this dispute before they left the U.S.S.R. in 1974. In 1978, the U.S.S.R. proclaimed them "ideological renegades" and stripped them of Soviet citizenship.

Vishnievskaya had a few years during which she successfully appeared as a guest artist in leading international opera houses. The highlight of her Western career was the recording she made with Rostropovich conducting the original version of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, a performance of breathtaking passion and intensity that is a treasure of the recording art.

In one of the last acts of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev restored the couple's citizenship in 1990. They made a triumphal return to Russia, documented in the television film Soldiers of Music. Since then, they devoted much effort to improving the lot of musical life in their homeland. Read less
Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk / Vishnevskaya, Rostropovich
Release Date: 11/17/2009   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 66838   Number of Discs: 2
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Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin / Khaikin, Vishnevskaya, Et Al
Release Date: 06/15/1999   Label: Opera D'oro  
Catalog: 1197   Number of Discs: 2
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Rimsky-Korsakov: Tsar's Bride / Mansourov, Vishnevskaya
Release Date: 08/12/2008   Label: Opera D'oro  
Catalog: 1481   Number of Discs: 2
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Prokofiev: War And Peace / Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya, Gedda, Miller, Ochman, ORTF National Orchestra
Release Date: 10/12/2009   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 4688010   Number of Discs: 4
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Browse 1-25 of 70 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Russian Opera Films DVD 4-Pack - Eugene Onegin, Queen of Spades, Prince Igor, The Tsar's Bride
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4943 Release Date: 04/07/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
    Performer:  Evgeny Kibkalo,  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Larissa Avdeyeva,  Anton Grigoriev  ... 
    Conductor:  Boris Khaikin,  Yevgeny Svetlanov,  Gennady Provatorov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus,  Kirov Theater Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $34.99
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  • 2.
    Mussorgsky: Russian Songs; Pictures At An Exhibition; Stravinsky: Symphony Of Psalms
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350096 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
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  • 3.
    BBC Legends - Great Recordings from the Archive
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5113 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Beryl Hatt,  Agnes Giebel,  Joyce Barker,  Kerstin Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jascha Horenstein,  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Kiril Kondrashin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orpington Junior Singers,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union  ... 
    On sale! $99.99
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  • 4.
    Britten The Performer - Complete Decca Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001922102 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Henry Purcell,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Adrian Thompson,  John Tobin,  Jenny Hill,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  Wandsworth School Choir  ... 
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  • 5.
    Britten: War Requiem / Britten, Vishnevskaya, Pears [2-CDs & Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001895702 Release Date: 09/17/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Peter Pears,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Simon Preston
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Highgate School Chorus  ... 
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  • 6.
    Voices of Russian Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 280342 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Mikhail Glinka,  Alexander Dargomizhsky,  Alexander Borodin,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Feodor Chaliapin,  Marianne Tcherkasskaya,  Boris Christoff,  Mela Bougarinovitch  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Steimann,  Igor Markevitch,  Georgi Pozemkovsky,  Jerzy Semkow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra,  Belgrade Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 7.
    Rimsky-Korsakov: The Tsar's Bride / Mansurov, Bolshoi
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1001876 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Yevgeny Nesterenko,  Irina Arkhipova,  Vladimir Atlantov
    Conductor:  Fuat Mansurov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
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  • 8.
    Mahler: Symphony No 4 / Oistrakh, Vishnevskaya
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002062 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Shostakovich Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9245 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Benjamin Fleischmann
    Performer:  Sergei Aleksashkin,  Vladimir Vaneev,  Alla Simoni,  Cristina Ortiz  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai,  Paavo Berglund,  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wdr Sinfonieorchester,  Wdr Sinfonieorchester Rundfunkchor,  Wdr Sinfonieorchester Choral Academy Moscow  ... 
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  • 10.
    Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin [1955 Recording]
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1001945 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Sergei Lemechev
    Conductor:  Boris Khaikin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Puccini: Turandot / Gavazzeni, Nilsson, Corelli, Teatro Alla Scala 1964
    Label: La Scala   Catalog: 6 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Nicola Zaccaria,  Renato Capecchi,  Birgit Nilsson  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
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  • 12.
    Verdi: Requiem; Rossini: Overtures / Igor Markevitch
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5068 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini
    Performer:  Nina Isakova,  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Vladimir Ivanovsky,  Ivan Petrov
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra,  Russian State Academy Chorus,  French National Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Magnificat - 500 Years Of Choral Masterworks [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001664502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Lotti,  Orlando de Lassus,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Russill,  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers,  Paul McCreesh,  Stephen Cleobury,  Edward Wickham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Gabrieli Consort,  Gabrieli Players  ... 
    CD: $179.99
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  • 14.
    The Decca Sound - Highlights [5-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001620002 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Béla Bartók,  Benjamin Britten,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Renata Tebaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Franco Capuana,  István Kertész,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir  ... 
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  • 15.
    The Decca Sound [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001619902 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Alfredo Campoli,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Vladimir Ashkenazy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 16.
    The Historical Archives - Rudolf Barshai Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9010 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Jean-Baptiste Lully,  Marin Marais  ... 
    Performer:  Timofei Dokshitser,  John Lill,  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Mark Reshetin  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Chamber Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Rostropovich Conducts Shostakovich - Complete Symphonies
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 64177 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Nicolai Ghiuselev,  Mark Reshetin,  Galina Vishnevskaya
    Conductor:  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony, Washington, D. C.,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Academic Symphony Orchestra Of The Moscow State Philharmonic
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  • 18.
    Label: Wcj   Catalog: 83448 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Elisabeth Leonskaja,  Maxim Vengerov,  Itamar Golan,  Galina Vishnevskaya  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Yevgeny Svetlanov,  Zubin Mehta,  Alexander Lazarev  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    Essential Tchaikovsky
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 07149 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev,  Vladimir Spivakov,  Lucia Popp,  Maxim Vengerov  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev,  Riccardo Muti,  Herbert von Karajan,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov / Raimondi, Rostropovich
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 80173 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
    Performer:  Vyacheslav Polozov,  Romuald Tesarowicz,  Nicolai Gedda,  Ruggero Raimondi  ... 
    Conductor:  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony, Washington, D. C.,  Washington Choral Arts Society,  Washington Oratorio Society  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 21.
    Peter Pears - An Anniversary Tribute
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001437802 Release Date: 06/22/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  John Ireland,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Frank Bridge,  Alan Bush  ... 
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  Peter Pears,  Joan Dickson,  Viola Tunnard  ... 
    Conductor:  Witold Lutoslawski,  Sir Colin Davis,  Benjamin Britten,  Eugen Jochum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zorian Quartet,  London Sinfonietta,  Goldsborough Orchestra  ... 
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  • 22.
    Best Tchaikovsky 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 56339 Release Date: 05/04/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Charles Abramovic,  Sarah Chang,  Ayako Uehara,  Olaf Maninger  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons,  Seiji Ozawa,  Lovro von Matacic,  Richard Hickox  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 23.
    The Voices Of Living Stereo Vol 2 / Lanza, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 68167 Release Date: 03/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Schubert,  Gustav Mahler,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Franz Rupp,  Marian Anderson,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Robert Russell Bennett,  Fritz Reiner,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk / Vishnevskaya, Rostropovich
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 66838 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  James Lewington,  Alan Byers,  Werner Krenn,  John Noble  ... 
    Conductor:  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Britten At Aldeburgh - Shostakovich, Janacek, Bridge
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 466823 Release Date: 10/21/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leos Janácek,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Frank Bridge
    Performer:  Benjamin Britten,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Emanuel Hurwitz,  Galina Vishnevskaya  ... 
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