An Introduction to Twentieth Century Music

By Peter S. Hansen | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XIV
SOVIET RUSSIA

The Soviet artist is an engineer of human souls. JOSEF STALIN

In the preceding chapters the main currents of twentieth- century music have been discussed, and the two principal lines of development, the French and the German-Austro- Hungarian, have been defined. It is within this orbit that most of the important innovations and additions to the vocabulary of music have been made.

In this chapter the contributions of Russia--and in following chapters those of England and the United States-- will be surveyed. It will be noted that composers of these countries have been influenced to greater or lesser degrees by Debussy, Stravinsky, or Schoenberg, depending on their contact and sympathy with them, and on the strength of the musical tradition of their respective countries.

The achievements of Russia are particularly interesting. Because of the physical isolation of this huge country, it was a late arrival to the European cultural scene, but by the middle of the nineteenth century it had made great contributions to the arts of music and literature. By that time Russian musicians had become thoroughly familiar with the music of Western Europe and were also becoming aware of the wealth of their indigenous folk material. Before the outbreak of the First World War, Russia rivaled the musical activity of other European countries with her composers, opera companies, orchestras, and the virtuoso

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