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Denis, Claude  

Neal Zaslaw

(b Lyons, late 17th century; d Paris, c1752). French singer, theorist, composer and actor. He was the head of a theatrical troupe that played in Lille between 1715 and 1722, at Brussels in 1716 and in Antwerp in 1717. The title-page of his Nouveau système calls him ‘formerly of the Royal Academies of Music of Lyons, Rouen, Marseilles, Lille, Brussels and Antwerp, and maître de musique of the cathedrals of St Omer and Tournai’. In 1730 he was married in Paris to Marie-Marguerite Lecouvreur, younger sister of the playwright. The dedication of Denis’ Nouvelle méthode to the ladies of St Cyr suggests that he may have been involved in the musico-theatrical training offered at that school. In the 1740s and early 1750s, and perhaps earlier, Denis ran a music school in Paris; the school continued after his death under his son-in-law Jouve.

Denis’ treatises enjoyed considerable longevity, one of them remaining in publishers’ catalogues until ...


Pokrovsky, Dmitry  

Izaly Zemtsovsky


(b Moscow, 1944; d Moscow, 1996). Russian ethnomusicologist, collector, folklorist, ensemble director and actor. In the mid-1960s he studied the balalaika at the Gnesin Academy of Music. After undertaking fieldwork with his mother, who was an ethnographer, he became fascinated by folklore and founded an experimental ensemble which rehearsed for the first time on 16 September 1973 under his direction. The young participants did not learn the songs from memory but improvised them as though they had adopted them from traditional singers. Their songs were in the style of the drawn-out songs of the Don Cossacks, which have distinctive qualities of timbre, texture and structure. This was the beginning of a powerful revival of traditional songs in various regions of Russia. Pokrovsky's work encouraged others to establish ensembles for the purpose of performing regional traditional musics, and by the early 1980s thousands of such groups were playing traditional material based on his principles. Pokrovsky's ensemble and the revival movement won enormous popularity, which troubled the KGB. After ...


Stanislavsky [Alekseyev], Konstantin Sergeyevich  

Paul Sheren

(b Moscow, 5/Jan 17, 1863; d Moscow, Aug 7, 1938). Russian theatre and opera director, actor and theorist. He directed and performed in operettas in his family’s private theatre and prepared for an opera career with the tenor Fyodor Komissarzhevsky, turning to drama only because his voice proved unsuitable for opera. In 1898 he and Vladimir Ivanovich Nemirovich-Danchenko founded the Moscow Art Theatre, where they encouraged new playwrights such as Chekhov and Gorky and experimented with naturalistic staging. Out of this distinguished ensemble developed the Stanislavsky system, the theatre’s most widespread approach to acting and directing. According to the system actors prepare their roles from within instead of concentrating on external presentation; they determine their character’s psychological and social background, even extending beyond the specific dramatic situation. Combined with the actor’s self-awareness and ‘emotion memory’, this leads to complete identification with the character, in turn resulting in an intensely realistic performance. Stanislavsky approached setting, costume, movement, light and sound with similarly studied concern for detail and accuracy. His early musical training and Chaliapin’s influence made him especially sensitive to tempo and rhythm, and he proposed classes in music for his actors. He was among the first producers to ‘orchestrate’ serious dramatic scenes with music and sound effects to support underlying moods and ideas. He believed that dramatic art was moving towards ‘the synthesis of music and drama, of words and sound’....