Gazprom Neft has donated a Steinway&Sons concert grand piano to the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (the Russian House), Belgrade. The piano, which is handmade, and comprises more than 12,000 individual parts, is considered by academics to deliver the benchmark in concert sound. Gazprom Neft’s gift marks the 85th anniversary of the Russian House — the oldest Russian cultural centre outside of the country — being established in Belgrade.
Alexander Dybal, Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications and a member of the Gazprom Neft Management Board, commented: “Gazprom Neft has been the most important investor in the Serbian economy for many years. In addition to which, we are also implementing cultural projects in Serbia directed at further enhancing centuries-old cultural ties and preserving the common heritage between our two countries. Our gift to the Russian House will help further strengthen this connection: in invitations to internationally recognised pianists, and in being used at Serbia’s Bolshoy Festival of Russian Music, held every year by Serbian director Emir Kusturica, and supported by ourselves. We’re hoping Denis Matsuev will play the first fully-fledged concert on this piano, as part of that festival.”Alexander Dybal Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications and a member of the Gazprom Neft Management Board
Gazprom Neft’s cultural and historical heritage support programme is a key element in the company’s corporate social responsibility investments in Serbia — the company having supported the reconstruction of the Russian Necropolis memorial complex in Belgrade, initiating the project to install a mosaic within the cupola of St Sava’s Cathedral and, together with film director Emir Kusturica, running the annual Bolshoy Festival of Russian Music — one element of which includes supporting the Russian Centre for Science and Culture (the Russian House) in Belgrade.
The Russian Centre for Science and Culture — the Russian House — was constructed in Belgrade at the initiative of the Russian emigré community: their idea of building a cultural centre to preserve spiritual ties with the Russian world being supported by Tsar Alexander I and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Varnava. Through these combined efforts the Russian House, named in honour of Tsar Nicholas II, was built in just 18 months, opening its doors to visitors on 9 April 1933. The architect was military engineer and the former head of engineering supplies for the Denikin’s Volunteer Army, Vasily Baumgarten.
The Russian House offered a theatre, gymnasium, primary school, its own publishing house and two museums — the Museum of Tsar Nicholas II and the Museum of the Russian Cavalry. The Chapel of the Intercession of Our Lady, the Russian Scientific Institute, a gymnastics hall and Russian literary, artistic and musical communities were all based here. The Russian House’s theatre and concert hall saw performances from Russian popular theatre, with Fedor Shalyapin and Nadezhda Plevitskaya (“the Kursk nightingale”) performing here. The most prominent figures of the Russian diaspora, including Peter Struve, Zinaida Gippius, Konstantin Balmont and Igor Severyanin, worked at its Russian Scientific Institute. The Russian House’s library was second only to the Turgenev Library in Paris (the oldest Russian émigré’ library) in terms of its volume of books and its cultural importance.
The Russian House today is continuing this work in strengthening international relations and cultural ties between Russia and Serbia, in promoting the Russian language, and in supporting Russian science and culture. Concerts, exhibitions, theatrical shows, films and conferences introducing visitors to modern life in Russia, as well as its history, are held here every year.