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"If I'll capture Kiev, I'll take Russia by its feet, if I'll capture Petersburg, I'll take it by its head and if I'll capture Moscow, I'll destroy its heart". -- Napoleon Bonaparte

1900: Alexander Gorsky becomes Ballet Master of the Bolshoi Ballet

1902-4: Building of the Tretyakov Gallery

1915: Population: 1.8m

1917: The Bolsheviks take over the Kremlin

1918: Moscow becomes capital of Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, after the capital of Russia moved to St. Petersburg in 1712; Vladimir Lenin moves to the Kremlin, the historic fortified structure by the Moskva River

1922: Moscow becomes capital of the Soviet Union

1927: Stalin's rule begins

1928-32: First Five-Year-Plan, resulting in increased industrialization of Moscow and a sharp rise in the population

1935: The Metro opens

1936: The first Moscow Trial takes place during Stalin's Great Purge, population doubles to 3.6m

1941-2: The Battle of Moscow, in which the German army was stopped at the city limits and began its first major retreat of WWII.

1941-5: The Great Patriot War, in which one of three people killed during WWII was a Soviet citizen

1944: Leonid Lavrovsky becomes Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet; Galina Ulanova transfers from the Mariinsky Ballet to the Bolshoi Ballet

1947: Moscow's 800th anniversary; Maya Plisetskaya debuts as Odette/Odile

1953: Stalin dies; Khrushchev succeeds him as First Secretary.

1955-end of the decade: 90 percent of Moscow's housing units are built in post-war development; population over 5m by 1959

1956: Khrushchev denounces Stalin at the Twentieth Party Congress, furthering de-Stalinization and initiating "Khrushchev's Thaw"

1957: Industrial ministries dissolved and replaced by regional economic councils; Sputnik launches

1961: The Palace of Congresses is completed in the Kremlin; Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space; construction of the Berlin Wall

1962: New York City Ballet tours Russia, including Moscow, marking George Balanchine's first return to Russian soil

1963: Cuban missile crisis

1964: Yuri Grigorovich becomes chief choreographer of the Bolshoi Ballet; Brezhnev becomes First Secretary

1965: Moscow becomes a "Hero City" for it's role in World War II

1968: Premiere of Yuri Grigorovich's "Spartacus"

1979: The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan; population is 7.8m

1980: Moscow hosts the Summer Olympics, which is boycotted by the United States

1982: Yuri Andropov becomes General Secretary

1984: Konstantin Chernenko becomes General Secretary

1985: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes Soviet head of state and begins to institute glasnost and perestroika

1991: A coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev fails; the Soviet Union is dissolved; Boris Yeltsin becomes the first President of the Russian Federation and institutes market reforms; Moscow once more becomes the capital of Russia

1993: First Constitutional crisis: Yeltsin dissolves the legislature and the military backs Yeltsin against protesters

1994-6: First Chechan War

1998: "Rouble crisis"; Aleksei Fadeyechev becomes Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet; Galina Ulanova dies and is buried in the famed Novodevichye Cemetary

1999: Beginning of the Second Chechan War

2000: Vladimir Putin becomes second President of the Russian Federation; Boris Akimov becomes Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet

2004: Beslan school hostage crisis; Putin restructures the government giving more authority to the Presidency; Alexei Ratmansky becomes Director of Ballet at the Bolshoi

2005: Bolshoi Theater begins major, multi-year renovations

2007: Vladimir Putin dissolves the government; population (official) is 10.4m, but doesn't include many immigrants from the former Soviet republics.

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St. Petersburg.

1703: Peter the Great begins construction on the banks of the Neva and commands 300 noble families to build houses there. Planned as "Russia's window on the West" and the new capital to replace Moscow.

1725: Population 40,000

1738: Russia' first ballet school

1752: Construction begins on Winter Palance (completed 1817). Eventual cost: the equivalent of 45,000 tons of silver.

1782: Falconnet's statue of the Bronze Horseman is unveiled.

1783: First permanent court theater for opera and ballet.

1796: Death of Catherine the Great after 34 years on the throne.

1824: Great Flood inspires Pushkin to write "The Bronze Horseman." Flood were a regular feature of life in the "Venice of the North."

1825: Decembrist Revolt by liberal officers and nobles. Goals: parliamentary government, abolition of serfdom. Results: arrests, execution, exile to Siberia for leaders and participants.

1830-31: Cholera epidemic, one of many in St. Petersburg history. The most recent was in 2007.

1842: Gogol's novella, The Overcoat satirizes life in Petersburg, with the city itself a main character.

1847: Marius Petipa hired by Imperial Theater as a principal dancer.

1858: Population 532,000. Fourth largest city in Europe.

1860: Opening of Maryinsky Theater.

1866: Doestoevsky's novel, Crime and Punishment. "the quintessential Petersburg work."

1877: Premiere of La Bayadere.

1881. Alexander II assassinated by suicide bomber after surving 7 preivous attempts.

1886: Alexander III gives first Faberge Easter egg to his wife.

1890: Premiere of Sleeping Beauty

1895: Petipa-Ivanov version of Swan Lake premiered.

1896: Over 1,000 people trampled to death during coronation festivities of Nicholas II

1900: Population 1.5 million. Factory metalworkers earn 408 rubles per year average. Lowest paid factory workers (women and children in textile milles) earn averate 282. Nijjinsky enters Imperial Ballet School.

1904: Isadora Duncan performas in St. P for first time.

1905: 250,000 workers in heavy interesty. A homeless single male sleeping in a work hostel (200 beds per room) paid 5 kopeks a night. Bring your own bedding.

Political and worker revolutionary action. On "Bloody Sunday," troops fired on demonstrators marching to Palace Sqauare. Maryinsky Theater artists go on strike; Fokine, Pavlova and Karsavina elected to Committee of stirker representatives. Rimsky-Korsakov dismissed as directors of the Conservatory. Revolution of 1905 leads to first elected Duma (parliament).

1907: Fokine's first version of Chopiniana. First electric tram; first motor bus service.

1908: 47 of all deaths are due to infectious diseases (cholera, typhus).

1909: Diaghelev's brings Russian ballet to Paris for first time.

1910: Annual allowance for a son of a tsar: 150,000 rubbles, rising to 233,000 on marriage. Avearage annual wage for a factory worker: 210 rubles a year. Literarcy rate: 69%. 12 hostpitals with 10,600 beds. 15 motor taxis. Stavinsky settles in the West.

1913: 300th anniversary of Romanov dynasty. Only 20% of population have more than an elementary education. 50k00 hose-drawn delivery carts; 2,585 automobiles.

1914: Start of World War One. Population: 2,000,000

1917: Nicholas II abdicates. October ("Bolshevik") Revolution overthrows elected Provisiona Govenrment. St. P is "the cradle of the Revolution."

1918: Former imperial familiyi removed to the East and eventual executed. Capital moved to Moscow.

1920: Population only 722,000. First jazz band in Soviet Union.

1930s: Decade of the big choreodramas: Flames of Paris, Fountain of Bakhchisaarai, Lavroskky's Romeo and Juliet.

1932. Maryinsky becomes the Kirov Theater, named for the city's Communist leader.

1934: Assassination of Sergei Kirov -- "the mkurder of the century." Agrippina Vaganova made director of Kirov school. 68.5% of population live in communal apartments.

1936-38: Stalin's "Great Terror."

Sept. 1941 to January 1944: Nazi German's Seige of Leningrad (the "900 Days). Almost daily bombardment. Food rations drop to 1/2 pound of bread per person per day. Over a million die of starvation and cold.

1942: National broadcast from the beseiged city of live concert of Shostakovich's Seventh ("Leningrad") Symphony.

1944: Population down to 600,000.

1940s-50s: Stalin's repression of Leningrad's intellectual, artistic, and political elite.

1952: Vladimir Putin born tinto a poor Leningrad family.

1953: Death of Stalin

1970s: Leningrad's cultural underground and rock scene become a mass movement.

1978: Andrei Bitov's Petersburg novel, Pushkin House circulated in the early 70s in samidzat form; published in the West.

1990s: The "Mafia": crime, corruption and cronyism.

1991: Leningrad Mayor Anatoly Sobchak faces down military leaders and prevents army occupation. Voters approve return to old name: "St. Petersburg."

1998: Bodies of Nicholas II, Alexandra, and several of their children exhumed and reburied at the Peter and Paul Fortress.

2002: Population 4.6 million. Economic growth in region of 6% per year.

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I would urge those with some familiarity with one of these cities (or at least with the literature about them) to give writing a time-line a try.

With St. Petersburg, for instance, I was amazed by the extent to which the literature presents what appear to be two completely contrasting cities, coexisting in time and place, but paying relatively little attention to one another. Each had its own cast of characters, its own set of facts and statistics, its own "look," its own concerns and obsessions, its own grievances, its own lasting contributions. Even in those books that deal with both worlds, they tend to be segregated into different chapters.

The glittering and luxurious upper-class cultural life of the Maryinsky and the salons seems to bear no relation to the Petersburg renowned in Europe for its poverty, foul drinking water and consequent diseases, dreadful housing conditions, air pollution.

It must have been very strange to live in St. Petersburg in the first decade of the 20th century. Out of these parallel worlds came an extraordinary amount of history that has remained alive for us today: the political figures, the creative artists, the gossip, the works. Those whose work seems most exciting -- for example, the circle that developed around Fokine, Diaghilev, etc. -- were often at odds with the Imperial bureacracy for reasons of artistic independence. It's interesting to see choreographers, composers, and even dancers beginning to travel to Western Europe for a free environment and less compromising employment opportunities in the decade between the 1905 Revolution and the Revolutions of 1916-17.

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People have told me about visiting Russia in the 70s and the insulated life of the great dancers, which fascinated me. I'd find it even more interesting if this were true of Moscow than St. Petersburg, which has always been a draw because of the Hermitage, etc., but probably not everybody knows that many of the great Russian jewels were brought back to the Kremlin from St. Petersburg after the fall of Communism. This was one of the more interesting things I heard Geza Von Habsburg lecture on a few years back. Moscow I always picture as rather dark and dreary, and images of Lee and Marina Oswald out of American novels about the JFK assassination. But it must be equally so of the Bolshoi dancers in that period. I hope someone does a whole history, a gigantic one, of dancers in the Communist period of USSR, including every possible anecdote. There must be some of this in the Kavanagh bio of Nureyev that many are now reading.

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I hope someone does a whole history, a gigantic one, of dancers in the Communist period of USSR, including every possible anecdote.
I'll second that. There seems to be a blind spot from the 20s to the late 50s. Kavanagh's book does tell us a great deal, from the perspective of a very untypical Soviet citizen and those to whom he was attracted. But the entire Stalin period seems -- with the exception of some videos and anecdotes -- a blank slate. :(:mad:

Anyone have any good sources on this period?

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