Music of the Repressed Russian Avant-Garde, 1900-1929

By Larry Sitsky | Go to book overview

27
Gavrill N. Popov: Contrapuntalist

Gavriil Nikolaevich Popov was born in Novocherkassk on September 12, 1904 and died in Repino on February 17, 1972. His father was a professor of languages, the family was highly cultured, and this contributed to the composer's very broad and extensive education. From childhood, Popov had a command of a number of important foreign languages, and was well-read in literature, history, and philosophy. He began his studies at the School of Music in Rostov-on-Don, where he worked with V. Shaube on piano, and M. L. Pressman on composition ( 1917-1922); during this period he also had the opportunity to sit in on lectures by M. F. Gnessin and avail himself of some private lessons with this composer. Popov moved to Leningrad and entered the Conservatoire in 1922; he studied there with V. V. Shcherbachev (composition), Maximilian Shteinberg (theory) and M. N. Barinova and later L. V. Nikolaev (piano).

A variety of interests manifested themselves at this stage, for in 1922 he attended classes in the faculty of architecture at the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute; in 1923- 1924 in the literary section of the Leningrad Institute of the History of Arts; and in 1924-1927 as pianist/improvisor at the Leningrad studio of Plastic Dance. He was Shcherbachev's favorite pupil, and the two kept in touch until Shcherbachev's death, supporting each other through difficult times.

Popov's Septet dates from this period, a work now notorious in the Soviet Union as a example of dissonance and extreme counterpoint. Between 1927 and 1931 he began to teach both composition and piano, and also established himself as a concert pianist. In 1943 he moved to Moscow, where he remained for the rest of his professional life.

The early works were individual, and include pieces such as "Expression" and "Melody" for piano, the "Grosse Suite" for piano, the Septet and the First Symphony (awarded equal second prize with symphonies by Shaporin and Shebalin in an all- Union competition held in 1932; first prize was not awarded). His motto at this time was "Art must be contemporary." But Stalin changed all that, and Popov's later music was certainly more conservative, especially after he was attacked by Zhdanov. He was never the same person again, and began to drink.

The First Symphony must be thought of as a cross-over work, leading to the more traditional music of Popov's later period. It was spoken of most highly by Shcherbachev, Prokofiev, Meyerhold, and Asafiev. Shostakovich, at a meeting held on May 8, 1933, appealed passionately in favor of this symphony. It was premiered in Leningrad on March 22, 1935. There was overseas interest, and some prominent

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Music of the Repressed Russian Avant-Garde, 1900-1929
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 1
  • Bibliography 7
  • Part I - The Precursors 10
  • 2 - Vladimir I. Rebikov: The Inventor of Whole-Tone Music 10
  • Bibliography 25
  • 3: Aleksei V. Stanchinskiy 27
  • Part II - The Big Three 38
  • 4 - Nikolai A. Roslavets: The Russian Schoenberg 38
  • Bibliography 58
  • 5: Aleksandr V. Mosolov 60
  • 6: Arthur V. Lourié 87
  • Part III - The Smaller Five 111
  • 7 - Leonid A. Polovinkin: The Partial Avant-Gardist 111
  • Bibliography 132
  • 8 - Vladimir V. Shcherbachev: Old Wine in New Vessels 133
  • 9: Lev K. Knipper 149
  • 10: Boris N. Liatoshinski 158
  • 11 - Vladimir M. Deshevov: The Man of the Theater 171
  • Part IV - The Reluctant Avant-Gardists 183
  • 12 - Samuil E. Feinberg: The Post-Scriabin Pianist 183
  • Bibliography 198
  • 13: Anatoliy N. Aleksandrov 199
  • 14 - Boris A. Aleksandrov: Son of the Composer of the Soviet Anthem 216
  • Part V 217
  • 15: Aleksandr A. Krein 219
  • 16 - Grigoriy A. Krein: Toward Assimilation 225
  • Bibliography 229
  • 17 - Yulian G. Krein: Precocious Cosmopolitan 235
  • 18 - The Ukrainian Bartók and Bloch 241
  • 19: Mikhail F. Gnessin 242
  • Part VI 248
  • 20 248
  • 21: Nikolai Obukhov 254
  • 22: Iosif M. Schillinger 264
  • 23: Aleksandr N. Tcherepnine 273
  • Part VII 283
  • 24 283
  • 25: Leonid L. Sabaneev 291
  • 26 - Dmitriy M. Melkikh: Rhapsodist 309
  • 27: Gavrill N. Popov 310
  • 28: Aleksei S. Zhivotov 318
  • 29: Efim Golyshchev 323
  • 30 - Georgi M. Rimsky-Korsakov: Microtonist 328
  • Appendix: Further Scores for Study and Reference 329
  • Index 343
  • About the Author 349
  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance 351
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