Today would have been the 80th birthday of Joseph Brodsky, who was born in Leningrad and died in New York at the age of 55 in 1996. He is buried on the island of San Michele in Venice.
Although the memorial museum where he and his family lived in “a room and a half” in St. Petersburg has not been able to open as planned, there are many online events and films you can watch or participate in today.
Thirty years ago Brodsky celebrated his 50th birthday at 44 Morton Street in New York, joined by a who’s who of the Russian and American cultural elite at that time: Derek Wolcott, Susan Sontag, Ellendea Proffer (who with her husband Carl co-founded Ardis Publishers); Lyudmila Shtern, Annie Liebovitz, Roman Kaplan and many others.
Natasha Sharymova, a photograph and journalist who knew Brodsky in Leningrad, filmed the evening. She and Dmitry Stepanov turned the footage into a film that exists in two forms: a ten-minute “sketch” or a longer “interactive” version with information about all the guests.
It is debuting today at 9 a.m. in San Francisco (noon in New York, 5 p.m. in London and 7 p.m. in Moscow) on the YouTube channel of the Globus Book Store in San Francisco.
Also at 7 p.m. the PPT (Piterskaya Teatralnaya Tusovka [Theater Crowd of St. Pete]) is broadcasting live their fifth annual evening of music and readings of Brodsky’s poetry. Actors from some of the best Moscow theaters – Praktika, Gogol Center, theatr.doc, and the Meyerhold Center – will recite Brodsky’s works, with music by Kira Vainshtein, Mikhail Myasoyedov, Dmitry Gorbas and Gleb Glonti. This event is usually live on stage, and has always been standing room only.
The online event will run for 90 minutes and has an admittance fee of 300 rubles. You can buy a ticket here.
Film by Catherina Gordeeva: “Joseph’s Children”
The film, which was made five years ago for the 75th anniversary of Brodsky’s birth, mixes scenes from Brodsky’s life and recordings and footage of Brodsky reading with interviews with all manner of people, from Pjotr Aven, Alexei Uklyukayev, and Anatoly Chubais to Chulpan Khamatova and Konstantin Severinov, a professor of biology, who talk about what the poet meant to them.
You can see it by clicking on the link below.