Karamzin, Nikolay Mikhaylovich
- Richard Taruskin
(b Mikhaylovka, Samara province, 1/Dec 12, 1766; d St Petersburg, 22 May/June 3, 1826). Russian prose writer and historian. As the official court historiographer from 1804, he produced an 11-volume history of Russia to the early 17th-century ‘Time of Troubles’; its authority was not challenged until the 1860s. Many details from it found their way into the libretto of Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov, especially the expanded version of 1872, which cites Karamzin, along with Pushkin, as a direct source.
Karamzin’s other claim to literary fame was the introduction of the sentimental novel into Russia. This aspect of his work found contemporary operatic echo in Natal’ya, boyarskaya doch’ (‘Natalia, the Nobleman’s Daughter’, 1798) by Daniil Nikitich Kashin (1770–1841), a serf musician who was one of the early collector-arrangers of Russian folksong. In his opera after Karamzin, performed in Moscow in 1803, Kashin accommodated the folk idiom to the style of the contemporary sentimental romance, paving the way towards Tchaikovsky’s ...