Five Operas and a Symphony


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Word and Music in Russian Culture

Boris Gasparov

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In this eagerly anticipated book, Boris Gasparov gazes through the lens of music to find an unusual perspective on Russian cultural and literary history. He discusses six major works of Russian music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, showing the interplay of musical texts with their literary and historical sources within the ideological and cultural contexts of their times. Each musical work becomes a tableau representing a moment in Russian history, and together the works form a coherent story of ideological and aesthetic trends as they evolved in Russia from the time of Pushkin to the rise of totalitarianism in the 1930s.
Gasparov discusses Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla (1842), Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (1871) and Khovanshchina (1881), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (1878) and The Queen of Spades (1890), and Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony (1934). Offering new interpretations to enhance our understanding and appreciation of these important works, Gasparov also demonstrates how Russian music and cultural history illuminate one another.

Boris Gasporov is professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at Columbia University.

“A dazzling thesis, presented by one of the Slavic field’s most creative and versatile cultural historians.”—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

“Literary scholars, musicologists and cultural historians of all levels will want to explore this passionate, ambitious and thought-provoking book…” - Philip Ross Bullock, Slavonic & East European Review

"Gasparov's erudition and mastery of both fields are awe-inspiring, and one hopes he will continue to publish on  the subject. . . . A particular familiarity with the subject matter allows Gasparov to narrate with a sense of authority rarely encountered in such interdisciplinary studies. . . . Gasparov reaffirms the significance in Russian culture, and his refreshing approach is to analyze musical works as complements—rather than accompaniments—to their literary counterparts."—Tony H. Lin, Slavic and East European Journal

It masterfully succeeds as a provocative, important work, a delight to all students of Russian culture.— Katya Slutskaya Levine, Little Falls, New Jersey

"The mark of any truly successful study of this kind is the extent to which readers may find as much to argue with as to learn from. In this respect, Boris Gasparov's book is immensely rewarding. . . . Beautifully written, deeply erudite, often original, and above all, thought-provoking."—Pauline Fairclough, Music & Letters

"I consider the book necessary for Russian music and culture students."—Marina Ritzarev, Slavic Review

Named the 2005 Best Book of Slavic Literary/Cultural Criticism by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages

Winner of the 2006 Deems Taylor Award sponsored by the American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers
ISBN: 9780300106503
Publication Date: October 15, 2005
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
88 musical illus.
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