The aims of this book are, firstly, to give a sample of the first Russian critical responses to compositions important to us which were composed, or in some cases first heard, between 1880 and 1917; and, secondly, to represent the work of critics whose work was influential at the time and retains its interest – most likely because it shows insight into the composers' styles or the climate of thought at the time.
The arts in Russia blossomed luxuriantly in the years between 1880 and 1917. That period contained the Silver Age of Russian poetry, with a current of Symbolism stimulating other new waves. The 'great experiment' in the fine arts was carried out in those years, with neo-Russian styles existing cheek by jowl with local manifestations of the international phenomenon of Art nouveau.
By comparison with the years between 1830 and 1880, covered in the volume entitled Russians on Russian Music published by Cambridge University Press in 1994, this later period is richer in composers and compositions which hold their place in the international repertory. Such standard fare of the concert and recording worlds as substantial parts of the output of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, the larger portion of the work of Rachmaninoff, and the early work of Stravinsky and Prokofiev originated at this time and must be given their due. All the compositions of Lyadov, Skryabin and Taneyev, and by far the greatest bulk of Glazunov's were likewise created during these years. Prince Igor and Khovanshchina were staged for the first time, after their composers' deaths. Many other composers had their say, and if their voice has not proved so strong as those of the composers mentioned, their level of technical proficiency bears witness to developments in musical life between the two periods.
New concert promoters appeared. Besides the Russian Musical Society and the Free School of Music, series of concerts linked with the names of entrepreneurial individuals took place: Belyayev (from 1885) and Ziloti (1903–13) (in St Petersburg) and Koussevitzky (from 1908) (in Moscow). Evenings of Contemporary Music were held in St Petersburg (1901–12) and