Dmitri Bortnianski

October 28, 1751, Glukhov (now Hlukhiv), Ukraine.

October 10, 1825, St. Petersburg, Russia.

St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery, St. Petersburg, Russia.


Bortniansky’s musical career began in the church choir. As a young man, he studied with Bal­das­sa­re Gal­up­pi (il Bur­a­nel­lo) in St. Pe­ters­burg.

In 1769, Bort­ni­an­sky followed Gal­up­pi to It­a­ly (with the help of a stipend from Rus­sian Em­press Cath­er­ine) to work in opera. His productions included Cre­on­te (1776), Al­ci­de (1778), and Quin­to Fa­bio (1778).

After returning to Rus­sia, he became master of the court choir in St. Pe­ters­burg. In 1796, he was appointed director of the czar’s court chapel and a councilor of state.

In addition to his other duties, he composed li­tur­gi­cal music, and wrote operas with French texts: La Fête du Sei­gneur (1786), Le Fau­con (1786), and Le Fils-Ri­val (1787).

After his death, his work spread to Prus­sia, where his music appeared in the Alt­preuß­ische Agende (Old Prus­sian Agenda) in 1829. His tune St. Pe­ters­burg/Wells is a traditional closing piece for the Groß­er Zap­fen­streich (cer­e­mon­ial tat­too) in Ger­man military music.

  1. Russia, St. Petersburg, Wells (same tune, different arrangements)