On March 2, 1911, one of Russia's oldest and most admired folk choirs, the Pyatnitsky Choir gave its first performance.
The Choir was named after its distinguished founder, Mitrofan Pyantnisky (1864-1927). A connoisseur of Russian folklore, he toured the country with an old phonograph and recorded every folk song he heard. His collection amounted to 400 hundred songs.
For the first time in history a choir consisted of peasants with no musical background, as Pyatnitsky based his selection process solely on the participants’ talent. Hailing originally from different Russian regions, they had no permanent residence in Moscow and had to travel back home after each performance. In 1918 Vladimir Lenin accidentally heard the choir and, smitten by the heartfelt peasant singing, allotted them a cottage in Moscow.
In 1938 the choir expanded, joined by a dance ensemble and a folk orchestra. Though successful on the surface, the choir saw each concert as a predicament. Stalin deemed himself responsible for the choir’s repertoire and frequently came to watch them perform.
Today the choir still enjoys great love and popularity among people, and upholds its uniqueness by maintaining only authentic folk songs in its repertoire.