The style and atmosphere of late eighteenth-century Russian musical life cannot be understood without including the role of serf musicians. The legendary wealth of the eighteenth-century Russian aristocracy was accumulated mainly from the results of serf labour. The post of serf choirmaster gained increasing stature. A vast number of high quality serf musicians were particularly to be found in the domains of Count Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev, who built up an entire 'industry’. The oldest of all the forms presented in Ostankino was the serf choir, inherited by the Count from his father, Peter Borisovich Sheremetev. The repertoire reflected a developed variety of preferences in the Russian secular culture of the second half of the eighteenth century: Italian, French and Russian operas, instrumental music by contemporary European composers, and choral music. The singers were trained exclusively according to the principles of the Italian school and worked on their operatic and choral repertoires in parallel.