Russian Boys' Clothes: Activities--Orchestral Music

Figure 1.-- This portrait of Soviet boy musicians was taken in 1984. But we don't know the location in the Soviet Union. I suspect Moscow or Leningrad, but no way of knowing. I'm not sure if the whole orchestra was dressed like this or if these boys perormed by themselves as a small group. It is a carefully stahed portrait. Theu look like they are in a museum--I supose to present a classy image.

Youth orchestras in the West did not require uniforms, although dress is usually standardized. Uniforms have been much more common in Russia and the Soviet Union. Many schools had the boys wear their school uniforms for orchestral presentations. Schools without uniforms will often adopt simple orchestra outfits like white shirts and dark pants. Schools and a variety of other groups have formed children's groups. Unlike choral groups, the orchestras have generally been mixed groups including both boys and girls. Some schools are not large enough to have large orchestras, but many larger schools in the America had them. I'm less sure about the Soviet system.

Russian boys who played concerts in public were almost always attired in some kind of uniform. Often they simply wore a formal version of their school uniform, but sometimes special uniforms were designed for a particular group of boys or for the performers of a particular musical program. That seems to be the case here, where we see boys of about ten or eleven performing in a brass trio--two trumpets and a French horn. The boys seem to be music students chosen early in life to be trained as instrumentalists, probably for Soviet symphony orchestras or for orchestras needed for ballet and opera performances.

The boys here wear rather gaudy purple suits with white shirts and ascot white ties with red polka dots (gigure 1). The jackets appear to have brass buttons somewhat like blazers. The boys wear black shoes. We know only the date (1984), not the specific location within the Soviet Union. Most of the important music schools for children were in the larger cities like Moscow or Leningrad (St. Peterburg).


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Created: April 12, 2004
Last updated: April 12, 2004