Lutheran Church (Kirche), a branch of the Mariinsky Theater
In 1863, when Vladikavkaz became the center of the Terek region, a large influx of people began here from the central and western regions of Russia, as well as from foreign countries - Germany, Italy. Even before Vladikavkaz acquired the status of a city with a total population of the fortress of 3653 people in 1852, there were 27 Lutherans (Protestants). After the transformation of the fortress into a city (1860), Vladikavkaz became attractive for immigrants from many Russian provinces, as well as from the Baltic states and Germany. The Germans took a significant place in the ethnic structure of the new city. In 1865, the Vladikavkaz German colony already numbered 43 families. In Vladikavkaz, the Germans lived dispersedly. Most of them were Protestants. The adaptation of the settlers to the new environment intensified the need for ethnic consolidation, in the establishment of their religious institution. “The collection of donations for the construction of the meetinghouse began in November 1861 by the order of the head of the Terek region of 23/09/1865. The Vladikavkaz city public administration sent a plan of land approved for the construction of a Protestant Lutheran church in the city to the pharmacist of the military hospital, court councilor Kutserut. The Evangelical Lutheran prayer house was built in 1866, and at the beginning of the 20th century, the German community resumed fundraising for the construction of the church. It was built around 1911 on the initiative of the commander of the Ossetian district Alexander Eglau and the leader of the Protestant community Heinrich Lorenz. As noted, "many parishioners and outsiders were present at the first mass." In the city, this church was called the German Kirche... “(S. Tsallagov “Lutheran church in Vladikavkaz”).
The erected building had no official architect. Similar typical churches were built in those years throughout Russia - but for the Caucasus it was a rarity. “...The building of the church was built in the spirit of late church Gothic and is the only building of such architecture in the South of Russia. The dimensions of the building on the plan are 50x15 meters, the material of the walls and the basement is red brick. The height of the building with a spire is 24.7 meters. The portal of the building is a Gothic arch supported by two columns topped with capitals. It was built in the form of a single-nave church with one-tower with an axial volumetric and spatial composition.
The composition of the facades of the church is subordinated to the dominant of the building - a four-sided three-tiered tower with a height of 24.7 m, placed outside the main volume. The lower tier is a highly massive quadrangle with two rectangular window openings in the front and stepped buttresses in the corners. The second tier has elongated narrow lancet-shaped niches and a rectangular doorway to the balcony with a concrete fence in the form of lancet-shaped arches. The third tier is formed by a system of pointed arches topped with a high four-pitched spire. Towards the top, the composition of the tower is lightened. Its verticality is emphasized by the narrowing of the tiers, buttresses, and narrow pointed niches. The middle of the plane of the wall of the western facade is occupied by a large arched niche, in the area of which there is an entrance portal representing a Gothic arch resting on double columns topped with capitals. Three narrow lancet windows are located above the niche, and the end of the roof is closed by a stepped attic. The main motive for the composition of the side facades is the alternation of lancet windows and stepped buttresses of rectangular cross-section...” (S. Tsallagov “Lutheran church in Vladikavkaz”)
In the 1930s, the church was closed. The cross on the church building was cut down. Subsequently, the building was repeatedly rebuilt in order to adapt it for another purpose. Initially, it housed the Builders' Union club. In 1940 the premises with excellent acoustics were taken over by the North Ossetian symphony orchestra, and a philharmonic society was opened on its basis. Additional space was needed for the stage, utility and administrative premises. Stars of classical music, including Svyatoslav Richter, played here - a new era began for the building. And in a sense - for Ossetian musicians, too. It was largely thanks to the work of the Philharmonic that the phenomenon of Ossetian conductors occurred, the first among whom were Valery Gergiev and Tugan Sokhiev. The two main theaters of our country and the two main conductors are from Ossetia, from this very establishment. Dozens of outstanding musicians, who nowadays play in different orchestras of the world and Russia, come from here.
Hard times came for the building in the 90s: it was extremely dilapidated. They tried to undertake major repairs in the former church twice - but the work turned out to be too complicated and expensive. Maestro Valery Gergiev helped the Philharmonic. After a large-scale restoration, the building was opened to the townspeople as it had once been built: it was freed from annexes. The old stained-glass windows were preserved, and the interior was decorated with specially selected species of wood - for good acoustics. Now the former church has become a branch of the famous Mariinsky Theater. Inside the building - now a temple of music - on the wall, next to the model of the church, hangs a rusted cross made of plain metal. The builders found it between the wall and one of the wooden beams. Most probably, someone hid the cross there in the same 30s.
“The surrender of fascist Germany was announced by radio on the night of May 8-9. Despite the late hour, having heard the good news, all residents of Vladikavkaz poured out of their houses into the street, they congratulated each other on the one Victory for all, hugged, laughed, sang songs ... And at midday on May 9, another surprise awaited them. In honor of Victory Day, athlete Giorgi Kandinashvili performed a handstand on the spire of the German (Lutheran) Church building, which now houses the North Ossetian State Philharmonic. This extraordinary event was, of course, captured by a camera and for a long time became one of the most discussed topics in Vladikavkaz. This act, I must say, was remembered by many residents of Vladikavkaz. After May 9, 1945, people talked about Giorgi Kandinashvili with continuous enthusiasm. They were proud of friendship, and even a nodding acquaintance, with this man. Parents later told their children about his sporting feat, the grown children, in turn, passed on what they heard to the new generation. Kandinashvili thus became a legendary person in Vladikavkaz. He personally was not at all proud of this, but just lived, loved and did his job, to which he was devoted with all his heart. In 1945, Giorgi Kandinashvili was only 30 years old. He dropped out of action due to injury and even before the end of the war he returned to his native Vladikavkaz. A graduate of the Ordzhonikidze Infantry School, Kandinashvili received his baptism of fire at Stalingrad, where he was first wounded. However, he recovered quickly. But his condition was absolutely different after the serious injury received during the battle for the Dnieper. Georgy Mikhailovich was out of order for a long time, and then returned home, where he immediately became the idol of the boys who were late for the war.” (O.Reznik “Vladikavkaz met Victory Day in 1945 with the athlete's stand on the spire of the church”)
Photo and video materials by Eugeny Ivanov
Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Personal stories of Vladikavkaz residents
The Protestant Kirche, former Philharmonic
Like the elegant yacht of Onassis in the crowd of stumpy boats and clumsy barges in the port, so the Philharmonic Hall rises today on a street of Vladikavkaz surrounded by unsightly one-story houses, a Khrushchev five-story building and a typical school built in the thirties, shining into the sky with an elegant copper roof. Its Gothic spire is arrogantly pulled up – still, there is no other so European thing in the city at the foot of the Caucasian ridge. Not even nearby.
The building of the Protestant church, built in the second half of the 19th century, has been abandoned and dilapidated for almost 30 years. And now, as if as a reward for the endured hardships and blows of fate, it got a chance for a new life, took on an appearance suitable for a tourist postcard – Europe, it must be.
And yet, when I cross the threshold of the renovated building, I am overwhelmed with memories of its past life, and my past life, too.
Then, in the eighties, as now, the building of the former Protestant church housed the local philharmonic society with its symphony orchestra, conductor, creative teams, and other services. The organization lived a rich concert life, and pulled into the orbit of its activities not only connoisseurs of music, which is logical, but also treacherously implanted culture among unsuspecting teenagers - students of common secondary schools, distributing tickets for compulsory attendance among them, which was strictly monitored by their class tutors. The concert presenters, at times, had to interrupt the performance and directly from the stage call the schoolchildren, who did not want to culturize themselves, to order, literally shouting over the chatter and nervous hissing of the teachers.
I studied at the Lyceum of Arts, practices the piano and sang in the choir among several dozens of other peers. For us, the visits to the Philharmonic were not a subscription event, but an educational necessity which we resigned ourselves to. We spent countless hours in the "temple of culture" rehearsing musical programs, performances, waiting in the cold wings for our entrance to the stage in combined concerts. Without any hope to leave, we stood on shaky choral stands, while the conductor, terribly similar to Grieg's cobalt, brandishing the conductor's baton like a magic wand as if trying to hit the enemy - krible-crable-booms! attacked the imperturbable, as if eternally sleepy, orchestra players from the winders group, trying to make them start simultaneously. But in vain. The dramatic component of these expressive scenes remained unchanged; only the characters that the conductor tried to impress with his magic wand changed – the first violin, the harpist, the unfortunate flutist. These scenes made us laugh into stitches with soundless laughter, and even to fall from the stands. It was particularly hilarious to watch the conductor's face during the concert, then his facial expressions became more than eloquent, and the menacing looks that he threw from under shaggy eyebrows in his wards should have killed them on the spot.
The "standing", especially in the evening hours, especially on an empty stomach, were brightened up by the long-awaited moments when our "choiress", our Olga, entertained us with amazing stories. These stories were invented on the fly and never repeated. With bated breath, we listened to the stories about the boy Tutankhamun, his golden clothes and precious gifts of treacherous priests, about the betrayal of his young wife, and, perhaps, his sister at the same time, and we used to forget about time and hunger. I have never heard anything more exciting and magical, either then or ever.
The place under the old Philharmonic vaults was not sacred for us, because we got there through the service entrance. Not a single cherished corner has been left in the building where we would not stick our curious noses, maybe only the director's office? A special pleasure was to play hide and seek, or to race, squeezing between the smooth, oil-painted walls with difficulty, to run up a narrow ladder that seemed to lead to the spire. Over time, the air of the Philharmonic became habitual having absorbed a strange mixture of the sour smell of cigarette butts, age-old dust, wooden floorboards of the stage and the toilet, which, in terms of comfort, was not in any way different from the one at the railway station. By the way, at that time a similar smell was present in all the theaters of the city. This wild bouquet of aromas was firmly deposited in my olfactory memory, and for a long time when I visited any "cultural oasis" having a stage, a toilet and a smoking room, it evoked associations with the Philharmonic.
Even then, the building, which housed the Philharmonic, looked unkempt. The old, high-quality brick, from which many historical buildings in Vladikavkaz were built, have darkened. The once snow-white parts carved from dolomite darkened as well, more resembling soapsuds. The portal, through which German families went to the service, was boarded up, and the old inscription from the Scripture in German consecrating the arch above it was worn out in some places, I thought, forever. Instead of this entrance, a squalid extension with a narrow door through which visitors entered the foyer was attached to the long wall of the former church.
And yet, this strange, uncomfortable house, with bricked-up high window openings, at times turned for us into an enchanted castle with a narrow staircase in the tower, cherished rooms with high doors hidden behind dusty velvet curtains. And behind them... Behind them were mountains of treasures - musical instruments folded in a wooden-copper heap and a magnificently curved harp, to touch the strings of which was the ultimate dream; heaps of old posters, black tailcoats with a crisp white chest hung along the walls. And a secluded place in the high choir, where, if you sit quietly, you would remain unnoticed. There, for the first time, a magical feeling came to me - you seem to be with everyone and absolutely, hopelessly alone. From there, the scene is in full view, and one can even hear Olga's whisper, addressed to the choristers: "smile!"
And here's another thing. Once, in the dead silence of an empty hall, I give my word, I heard the dull thud of the organ pedal, as if the organist awkwardly removed his foot from it, at the very end, after the last sound of the Protestant chant had died out in the air.
Employee of the North-Caucasus Branch
of the State Museum of Fine Arts
named after A.S. Pushkin