A Celebration of 100 Years of the Trombone Class at Saratov State Conservatory

by Yury Gusev

Saratov is located on the west bank of the Volga River and was founded as a fortified city in 1590. At that time it protected Moscow from barbarian attacks. Archival documents and headlines in the town's first newspaper, the Saratov Provincial Newspaper (1838), inform us (using long-forgotten names and vague descriptions) about playing on wind instruments and the formation of an orchestra.

In the first half of the 19th century, serf orchestras played for Golitsyn's princes, the owner of the first Saratov theatre, in Zubrilovka, Kurakin in Nadezhdino, Gladkov. Governor Panchulidzev hired one Gerdlichek, a Czech, to manage the musical establishment.

Programs from some concerts have survived. On 2 July 1867 “Schubert's Imagination” was performed on cornet-a-piston by Joseph Bareyter. He also performed a “Romance” by Romberg in Saratov in the spring of 1868.

In 1871 trumpeter Wilhelm Vurm (sometimes spelled Wurm), soloist to His Imperial Majesty, visited Saratov while on tour. Vurm repeated the visit in 1875 and 1876. Suviving programs indicate that he played “Imagination on the Theme of ‘Sleep-walker’” by Bellini. In 1884 gave two concerts with the pianist Benua.

Music classes at the branch of the Russian Music Society began in 1873, admitting pupils interested in orchestral study. In an 1873-74 report by Pashkovsky, the orchestral musicians included trumpeters Schiller and Heine, hornists Ortner and Nordman, and trombonist Mikhaeliss. In the Noble Assembly on 19 July 1879, cornetist S.Rosentall played Arban’s “Carnival of Venice.”

By the end of the 19th century, Saratov featured a permenant opera troupe. The opera was conducted by a host of famous conductors, including V. Suk, later the conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and L. Shteinberg, who worked with Diaghilev during his time in Paris and London and also conducted orchestras of Bern, Leipzig, Dresden, and the Bolshoi Theatre.

Given all the musical activity, the cultural level of Saratovy at the turn of the 20th century was quite enviable. When one considers the opening of the Radischev Art Museum in 1885 and the visiting performances of other prominent musicians such as Arensky, Skryabin, Glazunov, Rakhmaninov, Prokofiev, Shalyapin, Sobinov, and the founding of a university, it becomes clear why Saratov was known as “the cultural capital of the Volga-river.” To all of this was added, in 1912, the first provencial Russian conservatory was opened in Saratov as an expansion of the local university. Prior to this, only Moscow and St. Petersburg featured similar institutions.


Figure 1: The Saratov State Conservatory

The conservatory attracted famous musicians from across Russia, including pianist and conductor S. K. Eksner as its first director. Eksner had worked in both the St. Petersburg and Leipzig conservatories earlier. Anton Rubinshtein’s pupil J. Slivinsky taught piano, and the violoncellist was Leopold Rostropovich (1892-1921). Of course he was the father of one of history’s greatest violoncellists, Mstislav Rostropovich. The first brass teachers were trumpeter Vassily Brandt (1869 - 1923) and trombonist Ivan Lipaev (1865 - 1942).

Ivan Vasilievich Lipaev was born on 16 May 1865 in the village Spiridonovka of Samara province. His father, Vasily Dmitrievich, worked as a rural teacher. Lipaev and his four siblings often had to move from village to village. In 1873 Ivan Lipaev’s father managed to arrive in Samara. Ivan studied in a private school and after some months had started to sing in the chorus of a district school. He possessed a pure and strong voice, and soon was invited to sing in the Bishop’s chorus, which had a prominent patron in N. S. Subbotin. At twelve years old Ivan started to play violin in the Samara theatre orchestra, led by V. M. Kozyrev, the former serf musician living with the landowner in Paris and taking lessons from H. Vieuxtemps. Ivan was engaged and enthusiastic and for three years achieved considerable successes. Realising that music was his calling, in 1882 he began his studies at the Moscow conservatory. In 1883 he transferred to the Musical-Drama school of the Moscow Philharmonic Society. Here he studied under outstanding figures of Russian culture such as composer Vasily Kalinnikov, singer Leonid Sobinov, and conductor Sergey Kusevitsky. His studies included music theory and composition under P. I. Blaramberg and, more notably, on trombone under B. P. Rempe. In 1884 Ivan Lipaev injured his left hand, hence his move from stringed instruments to trombone and tuba. In 1888 he graduated.

In October 1893 accepted a position with the Bolshoi Theatre, and for many years played in the orchestra. In 1903 he became one of the organizers and Chairman of the Society of Mutual Aid of Orchestral Musicians. As part of his social work he wrote the book “Orchestral Musicians” (Historical and household sketches. St-Petersburg, the Russian musical newspaper, 1904). Ivan Lipaev was the founder and editor of magazine “Musical Worker” (1906 - 1910), and then the magazine “Orchestra” (1910 - 1912). In 1895 he organised the first Russian brass quartet at the Bolshoi Theatre, featuring himself on trombone, A. Markvardt and F. Putkamer on trumpet, and G. Kunst on horn. Three years later trumpeters W. Brandt and M. Tabakov joined the ensemble.


Figure 2: A c.1895 Photo (standing from the left: Vassily Brandt (1869-1923), Ivan Lipaev (1865-1942); sitting left – Mikhail Tabakov (1877-1956), F. Putkamer)

In July 1912 the Director of the Saratov conservatory S.K.Eksner invited Ivan Lipaev to teach trombone and tuba, and to give lectures on history of music, church singing, and theatre. Here he published a course of lectures on music history, including review of foreign and Russian musical culture from ancient times prior to the beginning of twentieth century. He wrote brochures about Taneev, Skryabin, and Rakhmaninov, and published Tchaikovsky’s memoirs. The range of his work in music education was vast. His published works include a number of essays on Jewish music, many of which were printed in the newspaper

“Birobidzhaner Stern.” His brochures, pamphlets, and published books include the following:

  • Sketches of the life of orchestral musicians (Moscow, 1891, 2 edition 1903).
  • Arthur Nikish, the conductor of an orchestra (Moscow, 1903, 2 edition 1907).
  • Music at Nizhniy Novgorod World's exhibition (St.- Petersburg, 1896).
  • Wagneriana. The companion of operas and musical dramas by Rihard Wagner (Moscow, 1904).
  • Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. A biographic sketch. (Moscow, 1905).
  • Finnish music (St.- Petersburg, 1906).
  • Czech music (St.- Petersburg, 1907).
  • F. I. Shalyapin. The singer. The artist. (Moscow, 1910).
  • S. V. Rakhmaninov. (Saratov, 1913).
  • The Musical literature, the index of books, brochures and articles on music education. (Moscow. P.Jurgenson,1915).
  • A. N. Skryabin: A biographic sketch, The characteristic of music pieces, Aesthetic problems, list of compositions. (Saratov. Publishing house Tideman, 1913).
  • S. I. Taneev. (Saratov. Publishing house Tideman, 1913).

From 1896 to 1917 Ivan Lipaev was a correspondent for “The Russian musical newspaper,” a leading magazine at the time. In 1921 he was appointed as chief of the section of Central Committee Vserabis (All-Union of the art workers) in Moscow, and therefore left Saratov. His performing activity continued with “Persimfans,” a symphonic ensemble that performed without a conductor. In 1923 he joined the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra in Moscow.

The destinies of Ivan Lipaev and Vassily Brandt were closely intertwined. Beginning the 1890s they performed together in Moscow, including in the brass quartet of the Bolshoi theatre, and, of course, they were colleagues at the Saratov Conservatory.

Vassily Brandt was born in 1869 in Koburg (Germany, Bavaria). He studied at Koburg School of Music under Charl Cimmerman. In the 1887-1888 season Brandt played in the orchestra of Bad-Einhausen, then joined the Helsinki Orchestral Association (conducted by Robert Kayanus). From 1890 he worked in the orchestra of Bolshoi theatre in Moscow (as a soloist beginning in 1895), and he taught simultaneously at the Moscow Conservatory beginning in 1900. From 1912 until the end of his life he was trumpet and horn professor in the Saratov conservatory. He was one of the best trumpeters of that time. Brandt was the first foreign musician in trumpet education to react against the embedded traditions of Russian musical performance. His remarkable orchestral etudes are still widely played among modern trumpeters. In addition to these, his concert pieces for trumpet and piano require a wide, powerful sound, as well as brightness and virtuosity.

Brandt both a laurelled concert performer and chamber musician, namely with the aforementioned Bolshoi Brass Quartet. The quartet’s repertoire was extensive, including arrangements of folk songs, popular arias, and more serious compositions by Russian and foreign composers. This union of brilliant musicians made great strides toward the creation of a Russian school of brass ensemble playing.

Brandt was the head of the student orchestra at the Saratov conservatory, a position from which he conducted compositions such as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Bizet’s “Rome” Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italian,” and Kalinnikov’s First Symphony. One example program from December 1913 shows him performing Schubert’s Eighth Symphony, Mendelson’s “Atalia” Overture, and Paganini’s Violin Concerto in D major.

After Lipaev’s departure, the trombone class in the Saratov conservatory was taught by his pupil Vitold Patsevich. Vitold Petrovich Patsevich was born in 26 January 1890 in Kovno, Lithuana. His family moved to Saratov when his father, Peter Egorovich, arrived to work as the civilian hornist in the orchestra of 325 Wood Regiment. The young Vitold played in the same regiment on baritone at a salary of 5 Roubles per month. Vitold started to play trombone at age 14 and S. K. Trey, the regimental band’s conductor, was his first trombone teacher. The two went on to play together in the orchestra of National drama theatre. In the autumn of 1907, Vitold Patsevich started to work on the seasonal contracts: mobile cinema, with operetta, opera, and symphony orchestras. The geography of his tours was extensive: the cities of the Volga region, Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Tambov, Kursk, and others. From 1916-1920 Vitold Patsevich studied trombone at Saratov Conservatory under Lipaev. He joined the Bolshoi Brass Quartet in 1921 when Lipaev left for Moscow. At the same time Brandt organized a quartet in Saratov. These were difficult years in Saratov. The aftermath of the Russian Revolution brought starvation to the Volga region. Brandt likely died at this very time – the records are scarce – and the location of his grave in Saratov went unrecorded.


Figure 3: A 1922 photo (From left to right: Vitold Patsevich, Vassily Brandt, Feodor Shevchenko, Dmitry Gruzinsky)

Vitold Patsevich combined teaching activity with performing. He worked as a bass-trombonist in Saratov opera theatre. On 23 December 1935 he was promoted to “Senior Lecturer” at the conservatory. During World War II he made a number of arrangements for trombone quartet, and also considerable quantity of transcriptions for trombone and piano, attempting expand the poor repertoire of Saratov trombone players. In 1947 Patsevich finished “Forty Etudes for Trombone in Alto Register.” From 1948-50 wrote a three-volume Trombone School. A considerable method book, it has not, unfortunately, been published, and remains in manuscript copy only. This method book was found by the present professor of the trombone class Yury Gusev, and he has transferred it to the conservatory’s library. In 1954 the Academic councel of the conservatory confirmed Patsevich as a professor. He brought up and trained not one generation of young musicians. Among them: I.Tomich, soloist for the A. Alexandrov Red Banner Ensemble (Moscow), V. Sokolov, soloists for the Saratov Symphonic Orchestra of the Oleg Valkov and Anatoly Kapelin Philharmonic Society, V. Sokolyansky (Yaroslavl), P. Degtyaryov (Symphony Orchestra of Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan), and others. In 1960 Vitold Petrovich Patsevich retired.

Figure 4: Vitold Patsevich with his students in the trombone class (1947).

Figure 5: Boris Manzhora

In 1960 the trombone class of the Saratov conservatory was headed by Boris Manzhora. Manzhora was born on May 14, 1921 in the city of Shadrinsk of Kurgan region, He studied at Sverdlovsk musical college, including on trombone under P. Gulyaev for three years. At age 17 he was accepted in the trombone group of Sverdlovsk opera theatre. Boris Manzhora worked under conductors A. Margulyan and A. Shmorgoner. In 1939 he arrived at the Ural State Conservatory, but was almost immediately drafted into the Soviet army, where he served for seven years. Throughout World War II he headed military ensembles. He served on the river Halkhin-gol and in 1945 at Big Hingan. Later he worked in Mongolia as an instructor of ensemble. Manzhora’s programs went beyond those typical of military concerts and in what was probably unique for a Soviet ensemble, they played for United States Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944. After earning various medals for his service, in 1947 he returned to study at the conservatory, completing programs in wind instruments and music theory. His teachers included S. Gayzhevsky, S. Rezheppa, and V. Shchyolokov. In 1960 Manzhora moved to Saratov, teaching trombone, tuba, harmony, and music history at the conservatory. His students have gone on to work for a number of high-profile ensembles and have won a a variety of awards: Vladimir Krasnov, laureate of the International Competition (Moscow), Ivan Shilov, laureate of the International Competition (Ulyanovsk Symphony Orchestra), Yury Gusey, laureate of the All-Union Competition and currently professor of the trombone class of the Saratov conservatory, Oleg Abramov, laureate of the International Competition and principal trombone of the Saratov opera theatre, Vladimir Shkalikov, laureate of the Saratov Philharmonic Society’s International, Herman Yushin, professor at the Dnepropetrovsk Conservatory in the Ukraine, Goodkov Vladimir, trombone teacher at the Smolensk Musical College, Nikolay Luzikas, soloist with the Saratov Philharmonic Society Orchestra, Vladimir Bernstein, bass-trombonist for the Saratov Philharmonic Society Orchestra, Alexander Derzhavin, principal trombonist of the Yaroslavl Symphony Orchestra, Pavel Melnick, trombone teacher of the Ukraine Musical College, and many others.

Boris Manzhora published a large amount of material, most notably the “Method of Trombone Technique” (Kiev, 1976). It has been widely used and was cretided with greatly enhancing Russian trombone pedagogy. Because it was published in Ukrainian, it has only seen limited use among Soviet, and later Russian, students. Nevertheless, it retains it’s value to the present. Manzhora’s method was influenced by Vladislav Blazhevich. Manzhora’s well-rounded method includes sections on breath control, the embouchure, and slide technique. Naturally he focuses on sound, intonation, articulations, and expression and stresses scales, etudes, and concert pieces. A special section in his "Method" is devoted to legato articulation. Studying various other methods of teaching the trombone, Boris Manzhora concluded that the interpretation of legato performing are divided between two main viewpoints:

1) Legato in all cases should be played only by lips or the slide, without tongue or throat participation! (V. Blazhevich, B. Dikov, A. Sedrakyan, Moscow).

2) In special circumstances where this might result in undesirable glissando, it is possible the use of the tongue to approximate the legato of other brass instruments (Eugene Reiche, Leningrad).

Manzhora considered that on brass instruments there are really three kinds of legato: lip legato (where the slide is not moving), slide legato (when the slide moves), and combined legato (both lip and slide legatos). He notes that “all three kinds of trombone legato are used with only purpose - to carry out beautiful, smooth, artistic-completely connection of sounds.” (B. Manzhora, “Method,” p. 60). He said that each kind of legato has its own features and own technical bases, some of which are general to all brass instruments and some of which are specific to the trombone. He advocated for legato performance without participation of tongue.

Manzhora studied Philip Bate’s “The Trumpet and Trombone” (Ernest Benn, London; W.W. Norton, New York 1978), which led him to the bass-trombone in G and a contrabass-trombone in E with a double-slide (patented by Messrs Rudall Carte & Co). He had an idea to construct a double-slide tenor trombone in B-flat in order to facilitate difficult technical passages in orchestral pieces such as Rossini’s overtures and Struass’s tone poems. The slide would assist the principal trombone in avoiding the F valve and large slide movements and thereby assist in good intonation. Manzhora's article on the instrument “The double-slide trombone” had been published in the “Brass Bulletin” (Vol. 30), but unfortunately, it the instrument was never made.

Boris Manzhora's work as a musical critic was equally intense: the aggregate number of his articles and reviews published in local and central press, totals over six hundred. He also wrote an outstanding book about history of the Saratov opera theatre. As a member of the Union of Composers of Russia (since 1956), he was very active on behalf of the Saratov Composer organization. His compositions for trombone include a concert etude, a “Sketch” with piano accompaniment, and a concerto in three movements. All three remain part of the standard Russian trombone literature.

The 100th Anniversary of the trombone class was recently celebrated with a concert, a tribute to our century of trombone studies in Saratov.

About the author: Yury Gusev is professor of trombone at the Saratov State Coservatory in Russia. He graduated from the same after studying under Boris Manzhora. Gusev translated Denis Wick’s “Trombone Technique” into Russian in 2005 and is a member of the International Trombone Association.

Editor's note: For those interested in an English-language study of Russian brass history, the HBS Bucina series includes Edward H. Tarr, East Meets West: The Russian Trumpet Tradition from the Time of Peter the Great to the October Revolution with a Lexicon of Trumpeters Active in Russia from the Seventeenth Century to the Twentieth, Bucina: The Historical Brass Society Series 4, Ed. Stewart Carter (Hillsdale NY: Pendragon 2003), ISBN 1 57647 028 8. - BP