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Adventures in Russia's Necropolis

August 20, 2013

Arkhipova's tomb, not catalogued properly Photo by Ed GordonCircling the globe constantly, Berkeley sports writer Ed Gordon took time off from the Moscow World Athletics Championships to visit — what else — a cemetery. Not just any burial site, but Novodevichy, cemetery for some of the leading Soviet and Russian figures since 1904.

There, Gordon came upon the tomb of Irina Arkhipova, an internationally acclaimed mezzo, who never made it to San Francisco, as far as I know. What makes this an item of note is that Arkhipova's tomb, according to Gordon, is not among the 252 graves of notable Russians listed in the brochure for this place of interest, so he took a picture to provide proof.

While the brochure may be not current enough, somewhere on the Novodevichye website, the top names in alphabetical order are:

- Alexandrov, Alexander b. April 13, 1883 d. July 8, 1946 — conductor, composer. Founder of the famed Red Army Choir and composer of Russia's national anthem.

- Arkhipova, Irina b. December 2, 1925 d. February 11, 2010 — opera singer. A mezzo soprano, she was for many years a star of Moscow's Bolshoi Opera while earning acclaim in the world's leading venues.

- Chaliapin, Fyodor b. February 13, 1873 d. April 12, 1938 — Noted opera singer. [I'll say!]

Among the others at rest in Novodevichy: Ippolitov-Ivanov, Kabalevsky, Kogan, Myaskovsky, Oistrakh, Prokofiev, Richter, Rostropovich, Rubinstein, Scriabin, Shostakovich, Taneyev, Ulanova, Vishnevskaya...

Coming next in this new Music News sepulchral series:

- Père-Lachaise (Paris) — Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison...

- Zentralfriedhof (Vienna) — Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss...

- Highgate (London) — Karl Marx, Douglas Adams (yes, of Hitchhiker), the Dickens family (but not Charles, whose tomb is at Westmister Abbey)...

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].