Russians on Russian Music, 1880-1917: An Anthology

By Stuart Campbell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
New stylistic directions

As the twentieth century advanced, new conceptions of music evolved from older ones, emerged from the rejection of them or appeared from a combination of both. Important figures include Skryabin, already mentioned as a Moscow composer, Stravinsky and Prokofiev.

(a) Yu. D. Engel': The music of Skryabin. Russian Bulletin, nos. 44 and 45, 24 and 25 February 1909. Engel', pp. 244–52, with cut restored


I

Everywhere that Skryabin's latest works are performed, whether in Russia or abroad, they provoke profound unease in the world of music. Some people go into raptures over them, others are indignant, while yet others are perplexed – but no one remains unmoved. This fact in itself is enough to show that these compositions are out of the ordinary. And, indeed, in Skryabin we are confronted by one of the most remarkable talents in the art of the present time. A talent which may be morbid, as befits our age, but which is also powerful, a single unity within itself, and original. And, what is more, original completely regardless of his works' link with philosophy. This link cannot actually have the same fundamental significance in music that it has in other arts. It is true that both philosophy and music are essentially generalizations, but they operate on different planes: one provides a generalized thought, while the other gives a generalized feeling. Music can thus embody only basic types of mood, and not logical deductions, even though those may lead to a certain mood, as if reaching a conclusion.

It is important to be aware of this subterranean working of the composer's thought as well, as it bursts through the world of sounds in a rush of emotional experiences and feelings, for it may shed light on a great deal in his work; but it is not capable either of enhancing or weakening the purely artistic significance of the musical embodiment of these experiences and feelings. Fine philosophy may beget the foulest music, and vice versa. For that reason,

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Russians on Russian Music, 1880-1917: An Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Sources xv
  • Chapter One - Tchaikovsky 1
  • Chapter Two - Rimsky-Korsakov 42
  • Chapter Three - Other Composers of the Former Balakirev Circle 92
  • Chapter Four - The Belyayev Generation 132
  • Chapter Five - Moscow and Her Composers 168
  • Chapter Six - New Stylistic Directions 198
  • Epilogue 234
  • Index 259
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