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An intentional lookalike for the Doge's Palace in Venice, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall opened in 1940 – in perfect time to mark the centenary of The Nutcracker. The German organ-builders Walker delivered an instrument from Leningrad – today's St.Petersburg - to Moscow especially for the opening. For the preceding hundred years – since 1839, to be exact – the organ had been in the Cathedral of SS Peter & Paul in St.Petersburg. In fact Tchaikovsky himself had played it there, in the 1860s.
The Tchaikovsky Concert Hall was built to designs by Dmitry Chechulin – who also designed the Hotel Pekin, the clock-towered building at the lower end of the square. The two buildings are utterly different. The concert-hall is pseudo-Renaissance, with traces of Gothic and a drop of Pompeii. The Hotel is more in the Empire style. But look closer, and you'll find elements of the author's lifetime passion for Italy.
The story of the building of the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall is a strange old tale. It all begins in the first years of the C20th, when a French-Algerian going under the name of Charles Aumont (his real name was Salomon) opened a private theatre where Tverskaya St meets the Garden Ring – he named it the “Bouffes-Miniatures”, but people called it “Aumont's hang-out”. “Monsieur Aumont has sown luxurious coffee-plants in Moscow, where a French chanteuse sings cabaret songs while standing upside down on stage” wrote the newspapers.
The theatre was laid out by Modeste Durnov. He planned to decorate the facade with faience tiles in the style of the Qing Dynasty – the entrance was shaped like a dragon's mouth, that swallowed the audience. However, the budget wouldn't run to that, and Mayor Golitsyn thought the dragon might be a bad influence. In 1907 Aumont went bust, and fled the city. A cafe-owner named Zon took the place over, and thus things went on – with a slightly cleaned-up appearance – until the Revolution of 1917.
In 1922 Aumont's former theatre passed into the hands of Vsevolod Meyerhold – the legendary impresario, dramatist, and updater of theatre arts in Russia. The new stage gave Meyerhold a venue to stage his most innovative productions. But the new theatre turned out to be too cramped to stage new works succesfully.
In 1932 Meyerhold began a complete makeover. He wanted a theatre named after himself, fitted out with cutting-edge technology – hydraulic scenery-changing, a retractable dome, projection equipment – and ventilation that would allow audiences to enjoy a smoke while they watched.
The new theatre was planned by the architect Schusev. His original plans included a tower with a statue of Mayakovsky on the top – the statue which is now in the square below. But the plan fell through, Meyerhold was arrested and shot, and they gave Schusev's project instead to Chechulin. However, some of Schusev's features survived – the circus-style auditorium and elliptical amphitheatre.
We would like to offer you a very interesting tour in the centre of Moscow – around Patriarshiye Prudy or Patriarch’s Ponds. For the last 200 years, there has been only one pond known to the public, although, the name of Tryokhprudny Pereulok (lit. Three-Pond Lane) suggests there used to be more. It is known that in 1683-1684 Patriarch Joachim ordered to dig three ponds for drainage of wetlands and fish farming to the patriarchal table. So, such ponds were fishponds.
The area is named after the seventeenth century Patriarch's Goat Sloboda located on the Goat Marsh. This marsh once was connected by a brook to the Presnya River in the west; by 1739, when the first topographic map was compiled, the brook disappeared and the marsh separated from the Presnya. People considered the swamp as an anomalous zone; apparently this caused a proverb ("Thomas has hastened, but made people laugh - he sticked in Patriarshy").
The pond acquired its present shape and was cleaned up in 1830-31 in the frames of the plan to rebuild Moscow after the Fire of 1812.
At the beginning of the XX century the area around the Ponds was actively built up. Among the buildings appeared at this time, you can see the mansion of Tarasov. In 1924, the Soviet government in the fight against religion renamed the Patriarch's Ponds in Pioneer Ponds. In 1945 in Ermolaevsky Lane a house for senior military commanders of the USSR was built.
Near the Ponds you will find a monument to Ivan Krylov. The fabulist sits surrounded by animated characters of his works: a monkey in front of a mirror, barking pug after the elephant, crow with cheese.
This district is, directly or indirectly, connected with Russian poets: Karamzin, Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Gogol, Baratynsky, Krylov. Not far from the Ponds lived Vladimir Mayakovsky. In Tree-Pond Lane Marina Tsvetaeva was born.
The novel by Mikhail Bulgakov “Master and Margarita” begins at Patriarch's Ponds. During the tour you will see the Museum-Theatre "Bulgakov's House". The district has a number of museums: Yermolova Museum, State Museum of Oriental Art, Anton Chekhov’s Museum, Svyatoslav Richter Memorial Apartment, Alexey Tolstoy Memorial Apartment, Maxim Gorky Memorial House, etc.