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)