Musicologists and Transients
Sergei V. Protopopov: The Post-Scriabin Composer
Sergei Vladimirovich Protopopov was born in Moscow on March 21, 1893 and died in Moscow on December 14, 1954. He studied first at Moscow University in the faculty of medicine, and then music with the noted Russian theorist B. L. Yavorsky, at the Kiev Conservatoire, from where he graduated in 1921. Protopopov earned his living as a conductor (including some work at the Bolshoi Theater) as well as a faculty member at the Moscow Conservatoire ( 1938-1943). In his composition and teaching he was an enthusiastic advocate of Yavorsky's theories of modal rhythm, and his three large-scale piano sonatas make a point of indicating the modal movement and parent tritones, at the head of each section of the sonata in small print (Figure 24.1). There
is also some vocal music.
Although Yavorsky presented his "Structure of Musical Speech" in 1908, it was not until 1931 that Protopopov, working under the guidance of his teacher, set forth his very thorough exposition of Yavorsky's ideas. The basis of the theory is the universal need of the tritone to resolve, due to its unstable nature. The theory is of course based on tonal precepts and does not admit the possible existence of the unresolved tritone within a harmonic scheme. However, Protopopov delved into the possibilities of microtones in his book, involving systems of 18-, 24- and 26-step scales,