Musica Viva's origins go back to 1978, when violinist and conductor Viktor Kornachev founded a musical ensemble of nine players – all young and enthusiastic, and recent graduates of Moscow's musical academies. By 1988 the ensemble had grown into a fully-fledged orchestra, now under the direction of Alexander Rudin – who also gave the group its name, Musica Viva – Latin for 'living music'.
Under Rudin's leadership the orchestra has become a formidable musical ensemble, achieving the pinnacles of artistic creativity, and ranked along Russia's finest orchestras. Musica Viva today is an all-round musical ensemble - which performs the widest possible range of compositions in all styles and genres with an assured confidence. The orchestra's thoughtful programming embraces classical mainstream works alongside fascinating rarities. The orchestra is adept in multiple performance practices, always aiming to get as close as possible to the style the composer intended – often stripping away age-old layers of performing traditions to reveal the freshness of the masterpiece which lies beneath.
The quintessence of the orchestra's projects has been a cycle at the Moscow Philharmonia called “Masterpieces & Premieres” – in which musical masterpieces are heard in their original splendour, alongside musical rarities which are returned once more to their deserved place on the concert stage. The performance of undeservedly forgotten masterpieces forms a major part of the orchestra's repertoire. The orchestra has given the first Russian performances of works by Handel, the sons of JS Bach, Cimarosa, Dittersdorf, Dussek, Pleyel, Triclire, Folkman, Kozlovsky, Fomin, Vielgorsky, Alyabiev, Degtyarev, and many others. The broad stylistic range of the orchestra enables its members to perform both rarely-performed music of the past and the music of contemporary composers. Over many years the Musica Viva orchestra has performed music by V. Artyomov, A. Pärt, A. Sallinen, V. Silvestrov, T. Mansuryan and other living composers.
In recent years Musica Viva has increasingly been involved in large-scale projects – concert performances of operas and oratorios, featuring performances by leading foreign singers and conductors. Under the baton of Alexander Rudin the orchestra has given Masses by Haydn and his oratorios “The Creation” and “The Seasons”; Mozart's opera “Idomeneo”, Weber's “Oberon”, Beethoven's “Fidelio”, Schumann's Requiem, Vivaldi's oratorio “Juditha Triumphans”, CPE Bach's “The Last Suffering of Our Lord”, as well as Degtyarev's “Minin & Pozharsky or the Relieve of Moscow”. In collaboration with the British maestro Christopher Moulds the orchestra has given the Russian premieres of Handel's operas “Orlando” and “Ariodante”, as well as his oratorio “Hercules”. In 2016-2017, Musica Viva organized an important international project for the performance of Mendelssohn’s oratorio “Paulus” with German soloists and Kantorei der Schlosskirche (Weilburg, Germany).
In 2017-2018 Musica viva under Alexander Rudin performed early pieces by Hasse’s Serenata "Marc Antonio e Cleopatra" and Handel’s Dramatic cantata "Apollo and Daphne", both are the Premieres in In 2018-2019 – the season of 40anniversary of the “Musica viva”- the orchestra plans big concert-competition of 2 Maestros-Soloists. Thomas Zehetmair and Alexander Rudin will be to alternate in their art of conducting and soloing with Musica viva (October, 26, Tchaikovsky concert hall). Concert-performance of “Orfeo et Euridice” by Gluck will be performed on the stage of the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall March 5, 2019. It’ll present a modern interpretation of the Paris release of the opera using the expressiveness of the combination of motion of 3 soloists and chorus, ballet and light scores (Choreography is Marianna Ryzhkina).
The degree of immersion in music of many epochs has almost reached the level of musical archaeology. This was the basis behind the concert cycle of 'Silver Classics', which began in 2011. The repertoire of Silver Classics is music which was highly prized in its own era, yet which has somehow disappeared from today's concert repertoire. The performers in this cycle include a young soloists who have emerged from the ranks of European music competitions, as well as a “Cello Assembly” to which maestro Rudin invites his colleagues – famous cellists.
Musica Viva regularly invites musicians of world status to join its performances. These have included Christopher Hogwood, Sir Roger Norrington, Vladimir Jurowsky, Andraš Adorian, Robert Levin, Andreas Staier, Eliso Virsaladze, Natalya Gutman, Ivan Monighetti, Nikolai Lugansky, Boris Berezovsky, Alexei Lubimov, Giuliano Carmingola, Isabelle Faust, Thomas Zettmaier, Shlomo Minz, Anthony Marwood, and leading operatic prima donnas Joyce di Donato, Annic Massis, Vivica Genaux. Deborah York, Susan Graham, Malena Ernman, M. Cencic, F. Fagioli, Stéphanie d’ Oustrac, Hibla Gerzmava, Julia Lezhneva, Morgan Pearse and many others. World-famous choruses including “Collegium Vocale” and “Latvia” have appeared with the orchestra.
Musica Viva makes continuous appearances in major international music festivals. The orchestra has toured to Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Czechia, Slovenia, Poland, Finland, Turkey, India, China and Taiwan. Every year the orchestra gives regular concerts in many Russian cities.
The orchesta has recorded over twenty albums, including releases on the Russian Season label (Russia/France), Olympia and Hyperion (United Kingdom), Tudor (Switzerland), Fuga Libera (Belgium), and Melodiya (Russia). Most recently the orchestra has been recording an album of the cello concertos of Hasse, CPE Bach, and Hertel, issued in 2016 by Chandos (United Kingdom).
One of the most sparkling innovations which maestro Rudin has introduced with Musica Viva has been the ballet divertissement “Variations On A Rococo Theme” by Tchaikovsky – staged by Bolshoi Theatre ballerina and choreographer Marianna Ryzhkina - also at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.