A lonely Russian Musician in Old Calcutta

from my blog,  ‘Finding the Centre’ on IBNLive

 

I thought it was time to return to the original theme of this blog, i.e., dislocation and the attempts to find one’s centre in the midst of such moves.    When you look at the life of a strange unusual musician turned linguist and theatre-director Gerasim Lebedev, you realize that dislocation is a comparatively modern word, too often used in consonance with displacement.    In general, all through history, there have been wanderers, who if they were not travelling in groups, generally moved in relative isolation,     perhaps aware of the dangers of this too. These included ascetics, bards and musicians and traditional healers. The wanderings of Gerasim Stephanovich Lebedev and his name is spelled in various ways was of a different kind altogether.

He was born in the ancient Russian city of Yaroslavl, one of the oldest cities by the river Volga.    In its buildings, one can catch a glimpse of Russian history through the centuries.    It had once been a Viking site,    the Mongols had invaded it, and not long after Yaroslavl had come under the sway of the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the 1450s, the Poles too had occupied it for a short time in the 16th century.

Gerasim Stephanovich was born in 1749 and his father led the church choir, though this cannot be creditably ascertained. The family left soon to settle in the capital of Tsarist Russia, St. Petersburg.    It was here that young Lebedev encountered his first mentor, Fyodor Volkov.    The latter had set up the theatre in Yaroslavl but Lebedev came to know him only in St Petersburg where encouraged by the Tsarina Elizabeth, a permanent theatre was set up for the first time.    Lebedev performed in some of these plays, and at times he also sang.    And while learning to play the violin on his own, he also taught himself several languages.

 

read more on the IBNlive website 

and my other blog posts are up there too.

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