The Dutchman behind the revival of Cossack culture


When Cossack culture was rehabilitated after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the once suppressed Cossack music was revived, having been silenced for decades in Russia. A young Dutch conductor who initially knew nothing about Cossack culture was at the forefront of this revival. Marcel Verhoeff was sworn in as a Cossack in an elaborate religious ceremony and is now the conductor of the Choir of the Don Cossacks Russia.

Marcel, now Nikolajevich Verhoeff talks about how he became acquainted with this essentially Russian music, about the character of the Cossacks and the nature of their repertoire: they sing about love, about death, about war”. The programme features many of those songs. 

Producer: Hélène Michaud

Broadcast: July 6, 2006