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Rhythms Rhymes and Rhapsodies Along the Trans-Siberian Railway

Discover what makes stepping aboard the Golden Eagle luxury train for the first time such an exhilarating experience.

You could easily picture yourself returning to the golden age of rail travel, with experienced and knowledgeable cabin attendants taking care of you as you glide through some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. In essence, it’s like stepping into another world of comfort and elegance.

Travel such as this has fired the imagination for centuries, a glorious tradition which you can chart as you make your way along our Trans-Siberian route. Whether it’s the rhythm of the tracks or the opportunity for long moments of reflection and introspection, music in particular has enjoyed a long association with rail travel.

Which music will inspire your Russian rail adventure? 

You begin your journey in Moscow, what better place to delve into centuries of Russian art and culture? It was here that The Five, that seminal group of Russian Romantic classical composers led by Mily Balakirev, held the concert which propelled them to critical acclaim. The group included Moscow Conservatory’s Professor of Music Theory Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, whose opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan contains the fast-paced interlude The Flight of the Bumblebee.

Moscow’s relationship with opera and ballet is no less distinguished. The Bolshoi Theatre is here, where Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker are mainstays. His Swan Lake is also on the menu and actually saw its premiere here in 1877. Regular operas include Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky, A Life for the Tsar by Glinka and The Tsar’s Bride, another classic from Rimsky-Korsakov.

Moving on down the line, you’ll soon arrive in Yekaterinburg. Internationally famed for its theatres, the city also enjoys strong links to music. The Yekaterinburg Academic Ballet and Opera Company is here, and opera greats like Boris Shtokolov and Yuri Aleksandrovich Gulyayev are graduates of Yekaterinburg’s Urals State Conservatory.

One of Russia’s oldest and most prestigious orchestras, the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, also makes its home here, but the city also has a far more contemporary musical tradition. Some of Russia’s foremost rock bands formed in Yekaterinburg. This raw, vibrant scene encompasses artists from the blues/rock stylings of Chaif to the gothic/punk pioneering Agata Kristi. The latter actually held their final concert here in 2010 after a career spanning 22 years.

Your trip continues into Novosibirsk, the most populous city in Asian Russia and the birthplace of yet more Russian classical greats. Violinists Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin and Natalia Lomeiko were all born here along with cellist Tatjana Vassiljeva.

This strong classical presence is supported in no small part by the presence of the Novosibirsk State Conservatoire. This is home to a host of collectives such as the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, the Russian Academic Orchestra of Folk Instruments and the Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra.

All the musical variety of Russian musical culture is here in Novosibirsk. Punk legends Yanka Dyagileva and Dmitry Selivanov are natives of the city, along with folk rocker Pelageya Khanova. The full scope of musical expression you can discover on your voyage is truly breathtaking.

Explore the music of Mongolia 

Your journey will take you further across the majestic steppes and into Mongolia where you’ll reach the capital city Ulaan Baatar.

Mongolian musical traditions are like nothing else you’ll experience. Central to traditional musical culture here is the long song, so called not because of the length of the songs themselves but rather for the drawn-out delivery of the lyrics. Songs lasting for minutes may only contain a dozen or so actual words. Sometimes sung a cappella, sometimes accompanied by a horse-head fiddle known as a Morin khuur and the limbe, a type of flute, the long song is a tangible link back to the days of one of history’s mightiest empires.

Mongolian throat singing, or overtone singing, is another revered cultural export and Ulaan Baatar serves as a vibrant hub for these styles. The music of soloists like Gereltsogt or bands like Huun-Huur-Tu is a fantastic introduction to what you can expect from the traditional music of Mongolia.

As well as traditional folk music, you can find a thriving Mongolian pop scene in the city, as well as classical works from composers like Enkhtaivan Agvaantseren and Bilegiin Damdinsüren. The latter is considered the father of Mongolian classical music and actually composed the national anthem.

Which Russian and Mongolian music has inspired you? 

These are just a small selection of the musical treats you could enjoy as you make your way along the Golden Eagle’s Trans-Siberian route. While preparing for your trip, why not have a listen to some of our suggestions so you can set the right tone for your own adventure across some of the world’s most striking landscapes.

We’d love to know if you have enjoyed some of these works when you’ve travelled with Golden Eagle. Do you have any favourites of your own which we’ve missed? If so, leave a comment and share your listening tips with your fellow travellers.

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