St Petersburg has long been home to great galleries, poets, artists, writers, composers, instrumentalists, singers and dancers, making it the cultural capital of Russia for the past 250 years. In the last decade and a half, however, the performing arts scene has exploded, and in terms of live performance of classical music, St Petersburg today offers as much, if not more, than London, Berlin or New York. As a result, St Petersburg is a music lover’s paradise.

St Petersburg

A Short History

The city is very much the creation of the Romanov dynasty. Peter the Great founded St Petersburg in 1703 in the first stages of his long war with Sweden for control of the Baltic and moved the capital there just nine years later. Under the reign of Catherine the Great from 1762 to 1796, the city transformed into a great cultural centre, as the jaw-dropping art collection of the Hermitage Museum attests. The city received a major boost after the defeat of Napoleon in 1812 and by 1900 had become the fourth largest city in Europe – a hub of industry, finance and politics.

Literature, fine arts and music all flourished in...