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 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)