Minsk is an Eastern European city with a rich tradition of folk and religious music. The country’s folk music traditions can be traced back to the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 20th century, the Soviet control of the country somewhat limited musical development because nationally oriented music was considered subversive and dangerous to the Soviet authority.
The people of the city were exposed mostly to Russian pop music during this period and also after independence in 1991. In 2002, however, Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree requiring 50% of all FM broadcast music to be Belarusian in origin, and since January 1, 2005 the rule was made even stricter (75% of daily broadcast music must be Belarusian). Though it doesn’t regulate songs language, so most of broadcast music is still in Russian.
Documentation of traditional music stretches back to at least the 15th century. Prior to that, skomorokhs were the major profession for musicians. A neumatic chant, called znamenny, from the word ‘znamia’, meaning sign or neume, used until 16th century in Orthodox Church music, followed by two hundreds of stylistic innovation that drew on the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation. In the 17th century, Partesnoe penie, part singing, became common for choruses, followed by private theaters established in cities like Minsk and Vitebsk.
A musical experience from some of the best Minsk artists and their unique brand of music is what you can expect.