My grandmother was an extraordinary woman, and deserves a blog dedicated just to her (one of these days...). That's me with her portrait, which was exhibited between those of the famed iconographer, Archimandrite Kiprian, and composer/conductor Mikhail S. Konstantinov. She was brilliant, and counted bishops and metropolitans as some of her closest friends and, in a few cases, former suitors! She was the first woman to complete studies at the Belgrade Theological Academy that had educated so many ROCOR luminaries, and one of the few persons of either gender to contribute significantly to the Church as a liturgical hymnographer in the 20th century; her best known service is that for the feast of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, though the service to Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg is a runner-up. She was also exceptionally musical: a gifted pianist and a dabbling composer. She spoke five languages flawlessly and could communicate in at least another three, besides being the acknowledged expert of her day in Church Slavonic, to whom bishops would turn with questions of grammar or style. Yet, she was also my Oma -- the little old lady who couldn't cook but loved to help us with French homework or music, who taught us the meaning of all the Church feasts and how to play card games like Solitaire and "Durak."
My grandfather, whose portrait is at the far right (next to his friend and colleague Johann von Gardner) is much better known, of course. His music is sung with increasing regularity in Russia, and we sang quite a bit of it ourselves while there! Both he and my father had done so much in the past century, and into this one, to keep the old liturgical music traditions alive. I realized at last how fitting it was for me to be there, carrying that legacy on and bringing it back to where it had all begun, in the city where Dedushka had studied with Chesnokov and Kastalsky.
I no longer regretted being forced to attend the exhibition, for it was, if nothing else, a reminder that, even though my grandparents, and my father, for that matter, had not "lived to see this day," their legacies were very much alive, and very much there in Moscow.