- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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We had driven out to a large restaurant outside of
Moscow to hear the gypsies sing and see them dance.
Accompanied by the male members of the families, they
came in crowds, with the chief of the tribe at the head,
into the room where people sit and eat in the evening,
and sang a series of wild, wonderfully sonorous songs.
Several of the young girls dance; a dance which had
nothing European in it, a dance for which only the free
space of a square between the chair and the table is
required, because the dancer, in a contracted place,
moves every fibre of her body while in apparent repose.
This pantomime, which is a whirlwind within these
limits, is Asiatic or African. The song, on the other
hand, to which the Russians take great pleasure in
listening, barbaric as it sounds, is less original. If several
of the melodies are really gypsy tunes, still the mass of
them are, in fact, Russian national songs, which the
gypsies have appropriated and made their own. And
the language which they sing is Russian. Evidently the
musical taste of the Russian peasant, the poetic
character of the Russian national songs, have set their own
stamp upon the spirit of this foreign race so
insusceptible to external influences, so that the Russian, who seeks
among the gypsies for that which is unlike himself, for
the strange and the new, unknown to himself, finds not
a little of his own.

These were the thoughts which the grotesque song

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