M.N. Mordasova’s flat-museum

Department of Culture of Voronezh Region
Voronezh regional literary museum named after I.S. Nikitin
M.N. Mordasova’s flat-museum

M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum is a unique subdivision of Voronezh regional literary museum named after I.S. Nikitin. This is the fl at where People‘ s Artist of the USSR, Hero of Socialist Labour, Honorary Citizen of Voronezh Maria Nikolaevna Mordasova (1915-1997) and her husband, an accordionist, Honoured Artist of the RSFSR Ivan Mikhailovich Rudenko (1920-1997) had been living for over 10 years from 1958 to 1997.
It is located on the fourth floor of a house in the main square of Voronezh opposite Koltsovskii public garden.
The museum has been open for visitors since 2005. The flat had been deserted for a long time until in 2004 it was transferred to the balance of Voronezh regional literary museum named after I.S. Nikitin. In 2004-2005 the fl at was repaired thoroughly and a creative group of the literary museum systematized museum materials together with a designer from the TNT studio ‘Gubernia’. As a result of their joint efforts there appeared a standing exposition. The composer, Honoured Artist of the RSFSR V.M. Rudenko was their consultant.

Maria Mordasova and her husband Ivan Rudenko

Maria Mordasova and her husband Ivan Rudenko

The opening of M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum was held on May 24, 2005 and timed well since the days of the Slavonic written Language and culture were being celebrated then.

The museum is really unique: all the objects are original here. There are no replicas or copies here. These are all every day things, souvenirs, photograps, concert posters, musical instruments, collected songs and chastooshkas, stage costumes- everything that surrounded Maria Nikolaevna during her life-time.
The exposition begins with the singer‘s portrait made by Voronezh painter Grigorii Andreevich Goncharov in 1948. The portrait is very expressive. This is a genuine object of fine arts conveying the appearance of a young singer, her scenic and psychological image in the style of the early 1950s.

February 1, 2013 the memory day of M. N. Mordasova in Voronezh

February 1, 2013 the memory day of M. N. Mordasova in Voronezh

Historical — biographical part of the exposition is information
stands each of which is devoted to a certain period of Maria Mordasova and Ivan Rudenko‘s creative life and their activity in Voronezh state Russian folk choir. One can see photographs, texts of chastooshkas, Russian folk songs in their repertoire. Each theme is accompanied by the singer‘ s voice, quotations from her biographical recollections are introduced.

Information stands about M.N. Mordasova‘s life and creative activity
Information stands about M.N. Mordasova‘s life and creative activity

Maria Nikolaevna was born on February 1, 1915 into a large peasant‘s family of the Iarkins in Tambov region. But all her conscious life she lived and worked in Voronezh (since 1939).
Like many ordinary people Mordasova underwent terrible ordeals: hard peasant‘s labour, starvation, injustice. Her parents married her young. She couldn‘t have children, however, Maria Nikolaevna walked through her life proudly. Her songs were always her salvation.
Her talent as a singer was found early. She sang in a church choir, her school‘s society and in 1938 participated in a competition of amateur talent activities where she performed the song “oh, my bast shoes…” and was awarded a prize for her performance full of enthusiasm and humour.
When Mordasova moved to Voronezh she sang in a choir at the clothes factory “1st May”, then in Voronezh state Russian folk choir where later she became the head of a chastooshka group.

Maria Mordasova in her childhood
Maria Mordasova in her childhood

It was after the war that Maria Nikolaevna met her real love. She had lived with her second husband Ivan Mikhailovich Rudenko for 50 years. That was not only a happy family couple but also a successful creative union. I.M. Rudenko was the author of a great number of musical records and arrangements in Mordasova‘s repertoire.
Maria Nikolaevna was really a unique person of the epoch and, as people tend to say nowadays, she was a ‘cult personality‘. All the country sang her songs and chastooshkas. Maria Nikolaevna‘s correspondence with her listeners is exhibited in the exposition. It‘s a whole trunk where letters from the singer‘s admires are kept. Mordasova herself composed a lot of chastooshkas and even more were sent to her together with warm, kind words of gratitude. It was often that a chastooshka performed by Maria Nikolaevna was accepted as belonging to people, but afterwards it happened to come back to her in her letters from her admirers.

Duet of Maria Mordasova and Alexei Parshin
Duet of Maria Mordasova and Alexei Parshin

Letters from the singer’s admirers
Letters from the singer’s admirers

Maria Mordasova was famous not only as ‘Queen of chastooshkas‘ but also as a prominent performer of old Russian folk songs. She performed songs skilfully and, moreover, she set them to music. In Moscow conservatoire M. N. Mordasova met with its students and professor A. V. Rudneva and told them about her conception of the essence of people’s art. She also showed them old folk songs collected by her and her own works. Mordasova‘s musical records enlarged the collection of folk songs in Moscow conservatoire.
Maria Mordasova is the author of a number of song texts some of which were written together with the poets A. Salnikov, G. Volovik. She composed over 300 chastooshkas most of which were created at the request of radio listeners.

M.N. Mordasova and T.S. Maltsev
M.N. Mordasova and T.S. Maltsev

The secret of M.N. Mordasova‘s songs being popular was in their actual character. Her songs were a response to all meaningful events in the country‘s life, whether it was the opening of the exhibition of achievements of national economy, the Victory Day, bringing new tracts of virgin soil under cultivation, the construction of the Baikal-Amur main line or the first launching of a spaceship with Iurii Gagarin.

In addition, her songs were so fiery, vivid and impressive that they remained in people‘ s memory forever. The theme of civicism became leading in her creative work.
In 1971 Maria Nikolaevna left Voronezh choir as for reasons of health she couldn‘t go on tours and conduct an active concert activity any longer. The rest of her creative life was related to Voronezh Philharmonic Society. She led the creative group of children ‘Rucheiek’, worked on radio and television, participated in shooting ‘Goluboi Ogoniek‘, in the project ‘Play, Accordion‘. She prepared and published seven collections of chastooshkas.

On a visit to Fiedor Telkov‘s house
On a visit to Fiedor Telkov‘s house

Maria Mordasova‘s photographs are of great interest as they enable us to recreate her live appearance. There are also photographs of different people surrounding the singer: her relatives, acquaintances, friends, partners, disciples, all the photomaterials are original and so, are of importance because they refer to that period of time when the People‘s artist of the USSR had seen and known them.

Maria Nikolaevna with her friends

 Maria Nikolaevna with her friends

The singer‘s portrait

The singer‘s portrait

Maria Mordasova‘s stage costumes are the best exhibits in the museum. Some of them were sewn in theatrical work-shops in Moscow and Voronezh, others were made by the artist herself. The costume, being one of the basic features of the image, reveals the personality of a woman born in a village. It also demonstrates traditions in national costumes of Voronezh and Tambov regions and is one of the characteristic signs of the folk singer‘s image. M.N. Mordasova worked at her own image herself, being always vivid and recognizable.
Over 400 titles of books bearing her personal stamp or signature are exhibited in the museum. The books are valuable museum items showing the singer‘s range of reading. The documentary films about M.N. Mordasova ‘The most popular‘, ‘Good-bye, Vanechka!‘ and about I.M. Rudenko ‘Concertmaster’ of the studio ‘TNT-Gubernia‘ are in the museum‘s fund. Separate parties are given for those who want to see the films.

The singer‘s wardrobe Stage costumes
The singer‘s wardrobe Stage costumes

Fragments of memorial exposition

Fragments of memorial exposition

In addition to excursions, different events, such as ‘music-drawing-rooms‘, master-classes, concerts together with choir groups and folk companies are held in M.N. Mordasova‘s fl at-museum. Among the participants were Voronezh State Academic Russian folk choir named after K.I. Massalitinov, the collective of performers of folk songs under the guidance of E.M. Molodtsova ‘Rodniki Rossii (Springs of Russia), ‘Russian Song‘ headed by N.K. Massalitinova, ‘Khokholskie Rodniki‘ led by V.T. Glushkov, ‘Terem‘ (Tower) led by G.P. Khristova, ‘Radoves‘, led by L.G. Larinovskaia, ‘Bylina‘ (Russian epic), ‘Subboteia‘ (Saturday), ‘Solovushka‘ (nightingale), and ‘Dikovinka‘ (Wonder) (the Leader- E.N. Agarkova), ‘Matania‘, ‘Semeiushka‘ (the leader-E. Zatsepina) and many others.

Vocal ensemble ‘Rodniki Rossii‘ in M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum
Vocal ensemble ‘Rodniki Rossii‘ in M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum

Voronezh state academic Russian folk choir named after I.K. Massalitinov in M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum

Voronezh state academic Russian folk choir named after I.K. Massalitinov in M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum

The workers of Maria Mordasova‘s flat-museum are engaged in all kinds of activities: organizing review and topical excursions, lectures, arranging classes related to ethnography, Russian national traditions and singing, fancy-dress theatrical performances that enable people to get acquainted with the museum and to reconstruct the history while playing; they also hold interactive classes, contests within the framework of museum excursions. The following projects are being carried out: ‘Traditional culture within the museum space‘ (different ways of spending leisure time, e.g., old games in modern version), ‘Chest with songs‘ (getting to know M.N. Mordasova‘s repertoire and her manner of performing), ‘Posidelki‘ (socializing) — getting to know decorative-applied creative activity, studying M.N. Mordasova‘s collection of costumes, etc.
There are differentiated programmes and optional courses focused on young visitors‘ personalities, such as ‘Excursions in the form of a game‘ with performers wearing national Russian costumes telling about the life of the famous performer of chastooshkas: ‘Talks about the museum‘ for high school students; ‘The history of a traditional doll used as an obereg (amulet) and for playing‘ which enables listeners to become active participants and to create their own dolls.

Children‘s folk ensemble in M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum

Children‘s folk ensemble in M.N. Mordasova‘s flat-museum

Elderly people are the permanent visitors of the museum. For many years Voronezh regional literary museum named after I.S. Nikitin has been collaborating with centres of social services to people.
The museum accepts different visitors not only from Voronezh and Voronezh region but also from other cities, such as Tambov, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk and others, also from foreign countries, such as the Ukranian republic, Morocco, Lebanon, New Zealand, China, Estonia, Germany, France, Lithuania, etc.

The memorial exposition of M.N. Mordasova‘s flat~museum is based on the full collection of personal belongings of the People‘s Artist of the USSR, the richest fund of correspondence with her listeners and admirers, a collection of her records which enable us to hear Maria Mordasova‘s wonderful voice and up till now is the only memorial museum in Voronezh.

Duet of Maria Morclasova and Alexei Parshin

Duet of Maria Morclasova and Alexei Parshin

Fiodor Telkov and Maria Mordasova

Fiodor Telkov and Maria Mordasova

Vladimir Rudenko and Maria Morclasova
Vladimir Rudenko and Maria Morclasova

Fragment of the memorial exposition of the flat-museum
Fragment of the memorial exposition of the flat-museum