Elena Akopyan
Doctor, Editor-in-Chief of the Heritage and Progress Foundation
"Down the Novinsky"
I walk down the Novinsky. The sky, ripped open by stale woolen clouds and hastily sewn up for no particular reason with a blue azure thread, seems motionless. But it is worth stopping at the cross-walk, waiting for the red idol, frozen on the opposite side, to be replaced by a green man in a frenzied one-second race, looking up, and noticing that the only truly motionless thing is the spire of the Stalinist skyscraper. The sky is moving. The clouds, sagging and worn out over this winter, float, as if through the rods of an old mattress, expanding and turning even more blue with satin azure, slightly wrinkling a girl's clean ribbons of the sky carefully smoothed by the spring. Far away at the junction of the rising avenue and the receding roofs (the skyline of the capital), an almost summer-like orange strip of sunset dazzles. On the other side, over the houses in the sharply cleared, growing darker, but still light sky, the curled up (apparently the first) pancake of the moon turns pale. Moscow enters the pre-holiday season. With clean tiles, with snow piles moved away into the depths of the 19th century tenement houses - blue, slightly spongy, long forgotten, and belonging to some merchants, also from the 19th century. Against the bench a hand is peeking out blackly as if it's made of broken white polystyrene foam, Chaliapin's head is tossed as if in pride. And someone brave, having violated the virginity of whiteness, seemed to be stuck up to the waist in a snowdrift, left imprints. For some reason, they lead only in one direction, to the singer, and end with red caps of still living carnations driven into the snow pile. The house-museum of the great bass keeps its history in a knightly manner, in restoration armor. And what armor it is! I know it's cold, but maybe we can stop for a couple of minutes?

In 1425, at this very location, Metropolitan Photius founded the Novinsky Monastery - hence the name of the boulevard. During the reign of Catherine II, when the first estates began to appear here, that was when it was established. A long-term resident of Moscow since the 18th century; one of the few survivors of the Napoleonic invasion. In 1910, enchanted by a garden with raspberry and currant bushes and a wonderful two-story gazebo overlooking the Moskva River, Feodor Chaliapin bought it. By that time, the Chaliapin family had five children. The wife, the first wife of the singer, an Italian dancer, Iola, whom he met at Savva Mamontov's, was temperamental and active like most Italians. And soon gas was brought to the house, which fed the street lamps, a boiler for hot water supply appeared in three bathrooms, electricity was installed, a telephone was hooked up - an unheard of luxury in those days. A tennis court was also equipped (it served as a skating rink in winter). A linden alley, jasmine and lilac bushes were planted in the garden. After a hungry childhood, after becoming rich, Chaliapin hired one of the best chefs in Moscow, became known as a sybarite and good host in Moscow; this hospitable house started to lead a completely different life. Musical evenings were held in the White Hall, Sergei Rachmaninoff played, the library collection was selected by Maxim Gorky. Benefit performances were celebrated here; in the Green Living Room Ruben Simonov, Olga Androvskaya with a small troupe together with the artist's children staged performances. Korovin, Serov, Bunin, Gilyarovsky, Moskvin, Stanislavsky ... Who hasn't seen this house and this gazebo. During the World War I, Chaliapin organized an infirmary here, where his entire family worked. The children read, sang, cleaned, and the best doctors were hired by Iola. The amazed members of the arriving military commission decided to relinquish such a hospital to the officers. But the singer replied: "For officers, you set up hospitals on your own, and I will continue to receive regular soldiers." And all his life more precious than all the awards, among which was the Order of the Legion of Honor of France, he appreciated the little St. George's Cross, which a poor soldier presented to his savior (the most precious thing he had).

In 1918, the house was transformed into a communal apartment. And to save the house from being plundered, he wrote a letter to Lunacharsky: "Anatoly Vasilyevich! Help, they are hunting for underwear, which I have already given away, and now they are robbing chests with silver." The outright lawlessness was stopped. But only for a while. Lunacharsky would then help him with the documents when he decided to leave the country with his second wife and children. The eldest daughter Irina and ex-wife Iola would remain in the house. It is thanks to the patience of these women that the house had not been demolished.

It is thanks to them that this amazing museum exists today. A collection of the artist's personal belongings, a Rachmaninoff grand piano, paintings by Serov and Korovin, Polenov and Nesterov, Vrubel and Boris Chaliapin - his son who became an artist... Not far from the house is a monument to the singer of the sculptor Tserkovnikov. According to the plan, Feodor Ivanovich is reclining, leaning on a tree upturned from the ground. In the same pose, he was depicted in the painting by Ilya Repin, which has not survived. The chopped off tree symbolizes eternal peace and memory, and the torn roots, spiritual unity with the homeland in emigration. Outcast, defector, he was insulted and threatened after one incident in Paris. "Ragged and tattered women with the same tattered children came up to me and asked for a handout". And Chaliapin wrote out a check for five thousand francs, gave it to Priest George, so that it could be distributed to everyone in need. He made excuses to the outraged Motherland that he was neither white nor red, just when he saw starving children and women, he wanted to help them. The persecution began. And it became clear that there was no way back to Russia. Years have passed. And he finally returned to us, to his Moscow estate. He is here now, he just walked into the living room, closed the door behind him, and the house, as always, fell silent. The great bass is singing. After all, it's time for "Don Carlos"...

Novinsky once again. So cold! Mothers with children with snot hanging out of their noses turn to the planetarium. The wonderfully baroque plaited entrance of the Children's Zoo is completely frozen in its cast iron grate. In the café windows, bypassing you, the street and the house across, women's eyes are thinking about something (oops, I almost slipped!). Giggling youngsters and sputtering girls flew out of the main entrance, straightening their loose, uncovered hair that immediately grew stiff in the frost. In the edging of the snow frames, a flower showcase is almost blinding in its Madagascar style. Boutiques try on, salons cut. Covered in masks with cuts instead of eyes and mouths, yellow-black spidermen fly on bicycles with G-Wagon backpacks for deliveries. Expensive and not foreign cars signal at the traffic lights. They demand insurance satisfaction from the impudent person who has touched the lush ass of his beloved. A white-masked crowd rushes from the crossing, and the snow starts to fall suddenly, and it appears to be thicker. If we are not that cold, can we move on? I want to show you one more monument. It is still light; in the light of day white-piped artificial light run along the trunks and branches of the trees and provide warmth; the sidewalks are lined with them, and somehow they make everything warmer. And here He is.

Another outcast, defector, underestimated and rejected by the Motherland. Turned towards the embassy of the country that received and appreciated him. Joseph Brodsky. It was created at our own expense (everything from the pedestal, to granite, to sculpture itself) and installed on May 31, 2011 by our contemporary - the great sculptor Georgy Frangulyan. This is his personal gift to the city. Empty, faceless groups of people. 13 shadows, contours, one-plane and one-dimensional. Unsigned and insignificant, meaningless and impersonal, they do not surround the Poet, but create the appearance of completeness, non-static completeness of the circle. Brodsky is in the center, the only thing that is voluminous, weighty, lively, his hands are in the pockets of fashionable trousers, drenched in the sun, washed by rain, or, right now, slightly powdered with snow. I was deep in thought, looking at the sky, and forgot to shake it off (it happens with geniuses). He is always different, he moves all the time - in the windows of passing cars or when you just walk by. He had just stepped out onto the Novinsky and paused for a moment. And next to him time shifted a little, space changed, air became saturated, and life changed just a little bit.

I've raised a statue to myself that's some!
To shameful century's its back to run.
To its lost love that's turned with stony face.
Like cycle wheel is bent its stony chest.
And buttocks is to sea of half-truth faced.
And if I would with nice landscape well dressed,
Whatever I would forced be to excuse, —
I would not change my image, one day choosed.
To me its height and posture pleasant are.
Thereto a tiredness has raised me high.
You, Muse, do not me blame for doing that.
My intellect now is like a sieves' set,
And not a vessel that by gods is poured.
Let overthrow me and I'll be bulldozed,
Let people me of willfulness accuse,
Let they destroy me and my parts confuse, —
In a big country for a children's joy
From plaster bust, that's earlier destroyed,
Through these weak sighted and white color's eyes
Will I strike with a water' stream the sky…

He wrote this poem when he was 22 years old. Didn't guess right, not the bust, not the fountain. Not the flesh, but cast in stone, subject to Frangulyan, the very spirit of the Poet stepped out onto the Novinsky today. He is standing still, straining his ears towards the sky, and who knows which unknown lines he is listening to now...
It is getting dark. Champagne glasses are lit on the bridge with flying reflections like a spray of champagne. Moscow is moving, walking with us. Even a stagnant river, cracked and ineptly assembled into an ice puzzle, is also trying to move a block of ice with ducks sleeping on it. On the other side, Ukraine's restaurant lights beckon like gingerbread houses in the woods of Hansel and Gretel. Bend around in a twist of flamenco, elongated at the waist, covered with posters that say "Spring. Moscow. Placido Domingo." In the sky, low grass-cutting flights of seagulls, and vertically upward into the frozen permafrost disappears a double finely bubbling, slightly foamed trail of the aircraft. Today's Moscow. It moves, lives, walks, and together with it, trying not to get lost, these two continue to walk. Singer and Poet. Our genius contemporaries. Our Great Novinsky Returnees...
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