When Sergei Volkonsky was exiled to Siberia in December 1825, his wife Maria volunteered to him. Her devotion was only surpassed by her strong will when she insisted on taking her clavichord, the unwieldy instrument that sled over 4,000 miles. The instrument was first placed in her husband's prison cell and later played in Maria's music salon in Irkutsk. Somewhat unbelievable that exiles educated there in deepest Siberia created a pulsating bourgeois life (Maria made the construction of a concert hall and the musical education in schools her personal projects) and transformed Irkutsk into the "Paris of Siberia". Like so many instruments, her clavichord would be lost in the tumult of later Russian history.
Maria's story turns the idea of Siberia upside down as a
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