One of many antidotes to the harsh Russian climate is to enjoy the rich cultural life of its wintry capital. The concert halls and opera houses have seasonal programs and Russian musical heritage is intimately connected with the gold-domed city. Rachmaninov wrote: "If I have been at all successful in making bells vibrate with human emotion in my works, it is largely due to the fact that most of my life was lived amid the vibrations of the bells of Moscow." This week's walk visits a few of the many musical and theatrical venues and sites that keep this legacy alive. 1. The theme begins before you even leave the Metro station; the ceiling at Teatralnaya is decorated with porcelain figures in white and gold. Produced in the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St Petersburg, they dance and play flutes, tambourines and balalaikas. Coming out of the station, the first thing you see is the Bolshoi Theatre, gradually emerging from its crysalis of nets and scaffolding. Meanwhile the "New Stage Theater," to the left, has taken up the baton without missing a beat; Prokofiev's "Love of Three Oranges" plays there next week. Walking past the New Stage, turn left along Kamergersky Pereulok where Prokofiev used to live, passing the Operetta Theatre, the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre and a statue of Chekhov.
2. When you reach Tverskaya Ulitsa, cross underneath the road through the perekhod and continue along Gazetny Pereulok, between the imposing Central Telegraph Office and governement buildings on one side and a church on the other. At the end of this lane, turn right into Bolshoya Nikitskaya. You soon reach the Conservatory on your left, the heart of many of Moscow's musical traditions. Tchaikovsky taught at the new conservatoire from 1866 and wrote Swan Lake while he worked here; the statue of the composer (by Vera Mukhina of "Worker and Peasant Girl" fame) in front of the building is currently hidden under a green polythene tent to protect it from the elements, but you can still see notes from six of his works in the fence around it.
You can go into the lobby of the Bolshoi Zal where the ticket offices are; tickets are amazingly cheap, often starting from as little as 100 Rubles, worth it just to have a look at the Great Hall with its portraits of musicians. The Small Hall is decorated with stucco-work musical instruments and the head of the Conservatory founder, Nicholas Rubenstein over the stage. Leaving the Conservatory, walk straight ahead along Briusov Pereulok
3.. Very soon you reach number 7 on your left where the composer Golanov lived along with many others - there is almost more plaque than wall. The 17th century orange and white church next door is a rarity in that it continued to operate as a church throughout the Soviet era; it has a lovely choir. A bit further along on the right hand side is the Dom Compositorov (Compo sers' House), a tall yellow building with a treble clef on the side and a surreal musical sculpture in the little park opposite. The "Fasol" cafe here might be an appropriate place for a break.
4. At the end of Briusov Pereulok is the flat where Meyerhold lived, now a museum; the young Shostakovitch was a fequent visitor. Going through the huge Stalinist arch onto Tverskaya again, turn left past more monumental government buildings and under another perekhod to the other side of the road. Further on up Tverskaya Ulitsa are the GITIS Theatre (School of Musical Arts) which has fantastic cheap operas performed by the stars of tomorrow, pianist Goldenweizer's museum-flat and the famous "Bunker" club where local and national bands play live. For now, however, turn 3right down Glinishevsky Pereulok just after the book shop; at the end of this lane in apartment block 5/7, is the apartment that be longed to the theater director Nemi rovich-Danchenko who collaborated with Stanislavsky to set up the Moscow Art Theatre.
5. Round the corner to the left on Bolshaya Dimitrovskaya is the theater named after Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Dan chenko. Walking past this and turning right into the park area in the middle of Strasnoi Bulvar, you will come to two new musical statues near the junction with Petrovka. Rach ma ninov sits near the house where he once lived and, behind him, looking upwards, with his guitar strap ped on his back, is singer and poet Vladimir Vysotsky whose intense songs about war and drunkenness won him many fans. Cross over left onto Petrovka and walk along it until you find the lovely theater-filled Her mitage Gardens; the Novaya Opera dominates the scene and looks great in the snow.
6. Carry on up Petrovka and then walk one block left along the Garden Ring, passing a music school on the corner. Cross under the perekhod to come up diagonally across from where you started. Walk on one further block and then turn right up Ulitsa Fadeeva. Here on the right is the Glinka Museum of Musical Instruments, a modern building decorated with bells and stained glass. Glinka is quoted just inside the doors,"A nation creates music; we artists merely arrange it." The museum has fantastic collections of instruments from thirteenth century lyres to the first electronic music makers, and a vast collection of memorabilia from three centuries of Russian music. When you come out, walk straight ahead up 1st Tverskoy Yamskoy Pereulok, passing walls full of posters for concerts and gigs. If you still haven't had enough, check out the "Museum of Russian Harmo nicas" (a collection of accordions) on the right at 18, 2nd Tverskaya Yamskaya. If you're hungry, you can go through Maya kovskaya station with its mosaic ceilings and lines of poetry and try the Cafe Brioche which is actually located inside the Tcahikovsky Concert Hall. Just beyond this on the Garden Ring, is Bunker's big brother, B2, a huge club where famous bands and singers perform for a city where the music never ends...
Family friendly features
Nice play area by the house of composers
Lots of the theatres have lunchtime showings and the rather conservative offerings at the Novaya Opera are bright and bouncy, perfect for those who like their culture to do what it says on the packet.
Glinka museum has a lot of weird and wonderful instruments with carved animal heads and if you follow one of the tour groups, you can hear them being played.
B2 has a surprisingly good Kids' menu