Music under the Soviets: The Agony of an Art

Music under the Soviets: The Agony of an Art

Music under the Soviets: The Agony of an Art

Music under the Soviets: The Agony of an Art

Excerpt

Not so long ago, not only in the West but in the Soviet Union itself, no one had any idea of just what "Soviet music" was, what its special characteristics were, and what claim it had to a history of its own. But now, since approximately the mid-1930's, not only has the concept of Soviet music begun to be firmly established in musical journalism, even in the West, but the practice of Soviet music has also gradually emerged.

It is natural that the question of what Soviet music really is, what its qualities and historical role are, should increasingly attract the attention of all who are concerned with the development of musical creation and man's artistic culture as a whole.

Superficially, Soviet music can be defined as the musical practice of the territorial expanse controlled by the Soviet regime, that is, by the totalitarian dictatorship of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In essence, however, it is nothing less than the musical policy of that regime, a policy which aims at the "reconstruction" of not only the historically developed musical forms but the essence of music itself as artistic creation. In reality that policy is an attempt to utilize the vast, rich tradition of Russian music, and of world musical culture as well, for purposes which have nothing in common with music as artistic creation.

The concept of Soviet music, like its theory and practice, took shape during the period of Soviet historical development which is linked with the name of Stalin, beginning with his final crushing of the intra-Party opposition in the 1930's and ending with his death in March 1953. It was during those years that Soviet music acquired its peculiar features, developed its most characteristic distinguishing marks, and determined the paths of its evolution. In those years, too -- a particularly important fact -- it acquired that rigidity which has kept it unchanged to the present time, as well as its single creative . . .

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