The Small hall. 2000s. Photo by V. N. Kraynov
The construction of the first tutorial building and the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory was completed in 1898. The inauguration of this hall, which became one of the best chamber halls in Moscow, took place on October 25/November 6 1898 and was marked by a “morning concert in memory of Pyotr Il’ich Tchaikovsky” in connection with the fifth anniversary of the composer’s death.
Just as in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory, the arch of the stage of the Small Hall is decorated by a bas-relief portrait of the founder of the Moscow Conservatory Nikolay Grigor’yevich Rubinstein (1835–1881), and the walls – by a molded décor with the depiction of musical instruments.
On the stage of the Small Hall at the moment of its opening an organ of the Friedrich Ladergast (1818–1905) firm was installed. The organ was built in Germany in Weissenfels in 1868. Vasily Andreyevich Khludov (1838–1913), a wealthy patron, donated it to the Moscow Conservatory in 1886, when it was still located in the old building. In 1959 it was replaced by a new, more perfect and powerful instrument, which was ordered to the “Alexander Schuke” firm in Potsdam, Germany. The disposition of the new organ for the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory was made by the director of the firm at that time, Hans-Joachum Schuke (1908–1979), the son of Karl Alexander Schuke.
Ideal in its acoustics, the Small Hall, provided with 435 seats, is famous for its chamber concerts, which attract numerous music lovers. Here class and department concerts are held, as well as various competitions and festivals (including the international P.I. Tchaikovsky Competition).
The Small Hall is tightly connected with the names of great composers – Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev, (1856–1915), Sergey Vasil’evich Rachmaninoff (1873–1943), Aleksandr Nikolayevich Skryabin (1871/1872–1915), Nikolay Karlovich Medtner (1879/1880–1951), Nikolay Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (1881–1950), Vissarion Yakovlevich Shebalin (1902–1963), Dmitry Dmitrievich Shostakovich (1906–1975), Sergey Sergeyevich Prokofiev (1891–1953), Aram Il’ich Khachaturian (1903–1978), Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin (b. 1932), Alfred Garriyevich Schnittke (1934–1998), Edison Vasil’evich Denisov (1929–1996) and Sophia Asgatovna Gubaidulina (b. 1931). Many prominent musicians have performed here, including singers: Sergey Yakovlevich Lemeshev (1902–1977), Ivan Semyonovich Kozlovsky (1900–1993), Irina Konstantinovna Arkhipova (1925–2010), Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya (b. 1926) and Elena Vasil’evna Obraztsova (b. 1939), pianists – Grigoriy Romanovich Ginzburg (1904–1961), Lev Nikolayevich Oborin (1907–1974), Svyatoslav Teofilovich Richter (1915–1997), Emil Grigor’yevich Gilels (1916–1985) and Tatiana Petrovna Nikolayeva (1924–1993); violinists – David Feodorovich Oistrakh (1908–1974), Leonid Borisovich Kogan (1924–1982), Igor Semyonovich Bezrodny (1930–1997), Viktor Viktorovich Tretyakov (b. 1946) and Gidon Markovich Kremer (b. 1947); cellists – Svyatoslav Nikolayevich Knushevitsky (1907/1908–1963), Daniil Borisovich Shafran (1923–1997), Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich (1927–2007), Natalia Nikolayevna Shakhovskaya (b. 1935) and Natalia Grigor’yevna Gutman (b. 1942); famous chamber ensembles – The Beethoven String Quartet, The Komitas String Quartet, The Aleksandr Porfir’yevich Borodin String Quartet and the “Moscow Trio.”
The first foyer of the Small Hall is decorated by marble plates on which the names of the graduates of the Moscow Conservatory who received a golden medal upon completion are engraved in golden letters. The first of these is Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev (1856–1915), a student of Nikolay Grigor’yevich Rubinstein (1835–1881)|and Pyotr Il’ich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893).
In 2010 the interior of this foyer was complemented with a model of the Small Hall, which was made for the control of preserving its remarkable acoustics for the forthcoming major repairs of the First Tutorial Building.
In the second foyer the visitors of the Small Hall can visit a substantive exhibition devoted to the founder of the Moscow Conservatory Nikolai Grigor’yevich Rubinstein (1835–1881).
Near the window with the view of the building and the statue of Pyotr Il’ich Tchaikovsky (1840–1993) there are portrait sculptures of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) made by sculptor Ciprian Godebski (1835–1909). Two portrait sculptures of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) and a bust of Frédéric Chopin also adorn the cabinet of the rector of the Moscow Conservatory. The atmosphere of a historical landmark is enhanced here by the antiquated furniture made of Karelian birch. The interior includes portrait photographs of directors and professors of this educational institution – Nikolay Grigor’yevich Rubinstein (1835–1881), Pyotr Il’ich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893), Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev (1856–1915), Vasily Il’ich Safonov (1852–1915), Mikhail Mikhaylovich Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859–1915) and Konstantin Nikolayevich Igumnov (1873–1948).
Many celebrated composers, performers and music theorists have taught at the Moscow Conservatory. In the First Tutorial Building some of the classes were named in their memory: class N.9 was named after composer, pianist and music theorist Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev, class N. 35 – after composer Nikolay Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (1881–1950), class N.45 – after pianist Konstantin Nikolayevich Igumnov (1873–1948), class N. 42 – after pianist Aleksandr Borisovich Goldenweiser (1875–1961), class N. 29 – after pianist Heinrich Gustavovich Neuhaus (1888–1964), class N. 28 – after Samuil Yevgen’yevich Feinberg (1890–1962), class N.22 – after Maria Veniaminovna Yudina (1899–1970), class N. 8 – after violinist David Feodorovich Oistrakh (1908–1974), class N. 14 – after Leonid Borisovich Kogan (1924–1982), class N. 15 – after Yuri Isayevich Yankilevich (1909–1973), class N. 19 – after cellist Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich (1927–2007), class N.13 – after violist Vadim Vasil’yevich Borisovsky (1900–1972) and harpist Vera Georgievna Dulova (1910–2000) and class N.44 is the chamber ensemble and string quartet class.
Upon the decision of the Advisory Board of the Conservatory from November 28, 2006, the Building of the Small Hall was named after Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev (1856–1915).