Among the city's more than fifty theaters is the world-famous Mariinsky Theater (also known as the Kirov Theater in the USSR), home to the Mariinsky Ballet company and opera. Leading ballet dancers, such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Galina Ulanova and Natalia Makarova, were principal stars of the Mariinsky ballet.
Dmitri Shostakovich, who was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, dedicated his Seventh Symphony to the city, calling it the "Leningrad Symphony." He wrote the symphony while in the city during the siege of Leningrad. The 7th symphony was premiered in 1942; its performance in the besieged Leningrad at the Bolshoy Philharmonic Hall under the baton of conductor Karl Eliasberg. It was heard over the radio and lifted the spirits of the survivors. In 1992 a reunion performance of the 7th Symphony by the (then) 14 survivors was played in the same hall as they done half a century earlier. The Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra remained one of the best known symphony orchestras in the world under the leadership of conductors Yevgeny Mravinsky and Yuri Temirkanov.
The Imperial Choral Capella was founded and modeled after the royal courts of other European capitals.
Saint Petersburg has been home to the newest movements in popular music in the country. The first jazz band in the Soviet Union was founded here by Leonid Utyosov in the 1920s, under the patronage of Isaak Dunayevsky. The first jazz club in the Soviet Union was founded here in the 1950s and was later named jazz club Kvadrat. In 1956 the popular ensemble Druzhba was founded by Aleksandr Bronevitsky and Edita Piekha to become the first popular band in the USSR during the 1950s. In the 1960s student rock-groups Argonavty, Kochevniki and others pioneered a series of unofficial and underground rock concerts and festivals. In 1972 Boris Grebenshchikov founded the band Aquarium which later grew to huge popularity. Since then "Peter's rock" music style was formed.
In the 1970s many bands came out from 'underground' and eventually founded the Leningrad rock club, which provided a stage to such bands as DDT, Kino, headed by the legendary Viktor Tsoi, Alisa, Zemlyane, Zoopark, Piknik, Secret and many other popular groups. The first Russian-style happening show Pop Mekhanika, mixing over 300 people and animals on stage, was directed by the multi-talented Sergey Kuryokhin in the 1980s.
The Saint-Petersburg. The annual International Music Festival SKIF (Sergey Kuriokhin International Festival) is named after him. In 2004 the Kuryokhin Center was founded, were the SKIF as well as the Electro-Mechanica festival and Ethnomechanica festival takes place. SKIF focuses on experimental pop music and avant garde music, Electro-Mechanica on electronic music and Ethnomechanica on world music.
Today's Saint Petersburg boasts many notable musicians of various genres, from popular Leningrad's Sergei Shnurov, Tequilajazzz, Splean, Korol i Shut, to rock veterans Yuri Shevchuk, Vyacheslav Butusov and Mikhail Boyarsky. In the early 2000s on a wave of popularity of metalcore, rapcore, emocore and there are such groups as Amatory, Kirpichi, Psychea, Stigmata, Grenouer and Animal Jazz.
Over 250 international and Russian movies were filmed in Saint Petersburg. Well over a thousand feature films about tsars, revolution, people and stories set in Saint Petersburg have been produced worldwide but not filmed in the city. The first film studios were founded in Saint Petersburg in the 20th century and since the 1920s Lenfilm has been the largest film studio based in Saint Petersburg. The first foreign feature movie filmed entirely in Saint Petersburg was the 1997 production of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, starring Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean and made by an international team of British, American, French and Russian filmmakers.
The cult comedy Irony of Fate (also Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) is set in Saint Petersburg and pokes fun at Soviet city planning. The 1985 film White Nights received considerable Western attention for having captured genuine Leningrad street scenes at a time when filming in the Soviet Union by Western production companies was generally unheard of. Other movies include GoldenEye (1995), Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1996), Brother (1997) and Tamil romantic thriller film-Dhaam Dhoom (2008). Onegin (1999) is based on the Pushkin poem and showcases many tourist attractions. In addition, the Russian romantic comedy, Питер FM, intricately showcases the cityscape, almost as if it were a main character in the film.
Several international film festivals are held annually, such as the Festival of Festivals, St. Petersburg, as well as the Message to Man International Documentary Film Festival, since its inauguration in 1988 during the White Nights.
Saint Petersburg has a longstanding and world famous tradition in literature. Dostoyevsky called it “The most abstract and intentional city in the world," emphasizing its artificiality, but it was also a symbol of modern disorder in a changing Russia. It frequently appeared to Russian writers as a menacing and inhuman mechanism. The grotesque and often nightmarish image of the city is featured in Pushkin's last poems, the Petersburg stories of Gogol, the novels of Dostoyevsky, the verse of Alexander Blok and Osip Mandelshtam, and in the symbolist novel Petersburg by Andrey Bely. According to Lotman in his chapter, 'The Symbolism of Saint Petersburg' in Universe and the Mind, these writers were inspired by symbolism from within the city itself. The effect of life in Saint Petersburg on the plight of the poor clerk in a society obsessed with hierarchy and status also became an important theme for authors such as Pushkin, Gogol and Dostoyevsky. Another important feature of early Saint Petersburg literature is its mythical element, which incorporates urban legends and popular ghost stories, as the stories of Pushkin and Gogol included ghosts returning to Saint Petersburg to haunt other characters as well as other fantastical elements, creating a surreal and abstract image of Saint Petersburg.
20th-century writers from Saint Petersburg, such as Vladimir Nabokov, Ayn Rand, Andrey Bely and Yevgeny Zamyatin, along with his apprentices, The Serapion Brothers, created entire new styles in literature and contributed new insights to the understanding of society through their experience in this city. Anna Akhmatova became an important leader for Russian poetry. Her poem Requiem adumbrates the perils encountered during the Stalinist era. Another notable 20th-century writer from Saint Petersburg is Joseph Brodsky, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1987). While living in the United States, his writings in English reflected on life in Saint Petersburg from the unique perspective of being both an insider and an outsider to the city in essays such as, "A Guide to a Renamed City" and the nostalgic "In a Room and a Half".
In boating, the first competition here was the 1703 rowing event initiated by Peter the Great, after the victory over the Swedish fleet. Yachting events were held by the Russian Navy since the foundation of the city. Yacht clubs: St. Petersburg River Yacht Club, Neva Yacht Club, the latter is the oldest yacht club in the world. In the winter, when the sea and lake surfaces are frozen and yachts and dinghies cannot be used, local people sail ice boats.
Equestrianism has been a long tradition, popular among the Tsars and aristocracy, as well as part of military training. Several historic sports arenas were built for equestrianism since the 18th century, to maintain training all year round, such as the Zimny Stadion and Konnogvardeisky Manezh, among others.
Chess tradition was highlighted by the 1914 international tournament, partially funded by the Tsar, in which the title "Grandmaster" was first formally conferred by Russian Tsar Nicholas II to five players: Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall.
Kirov Stadium (now demolished) was one of the largest stadiums in the world and home to FC Zenit St. Petersburg from 1950 to 1993 and again in 1995. In 1951 a crowd of 110,000 set the single-game attendance record for Soviet football. In 1984, 2007, 2010 and 2011/2012 Zenit were the champions of the Soviet and Russian leagues, respectively, and won the Russian Cup in 1999 and 2010, the UEFA Cup 2007–08 season and the 2008 UEFA Super Cup. The team leader was Andrei Arshavin, who departed in early 2009 for Arsenal F.C.. Zenit currently play their home games at Petrovsky Stadium. The new stadium, which will host 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, is currently under construction, and will replace Kirov stadium. Seven players have played for the Russian national football team: Vyacheslav Malafeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Vladimir Bystrov, Viktor Fayzulin, Aleksandr Kerzhakov. Three players have played for the Portuguese national football team: Danny, Bruno Alves and Luís Carlos Novo Neto.
There is also a second professional football club in St. Petersburg which is called FC Petrotrest Saint Petersburg.
Hockey teams in the city include SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL, HC VMF St. Petersburg in the VHL, and junior clubs SKA-1946 and Silver Lions in the Russian Major League. SKA Saint Petersburg is one of the most popular KHL, consistently being at or near the top of the league in attendance, despite the fact that they have never won the championship. Well-known players include Maxim Afinogenov, Patrick Thoresen, Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Průcha and Viktor Tikhonov. During the NHL lockout, stars Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Bobrovsky and Vladimir Tarasenko also played for the team. They play their home games at Ice Palace Saint Petersburg.
The city's basketball team is BC Spartak Saint Petersburg, which launched the career of Andrei Kirilenko. Spartak has won two championships in the Soviet/Russian Super League (1975, 1992) and three Russian Basketball Cup titles (1978, 1987, 2011). Legends of the club include Alexander Belov and Vladimir Kondrashin.
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