Russian Music and Nationalism


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from Glinka to Stalin

Marina Frolova-Walker

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Challenging what is widely regarded as the distinguishing feature of Russian music—its ineffable “Russianness”—Marina Frolova-Walker examines the history of Russian music from the premiere of Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar in 1836 to the death of Stalin in 1953, the years in which musical nationalism was encouraged and endorsed by the Russian state and its Soviet successor.

The author identifies and discusses two central myths that dominated Russian culture during this period—that art revealed the Russian soul, and that this nationalist artistic tradition was founded by Glinka and Pushkin. The author also offers a critical account of how the imperatives of nationalist thought affected individual composers. In this way Frolova-Walker provides a new perspective on the brilliant creativity, innovation, and eventual stagnation within the tradition of Russian nationalist music.

Marina Frolova-Walker is senior lecturer in music in the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Clare College.

"This book destroys the mythology surrounding Russian musical historiography and provides a fresh perspective backed by primary and secondary sources. Recommended."—Choice

"[This] was a book waiting to be written that very few could have attempted, and it is worth stating here and now that this brilliant, authoritative study will be read for decades to come. . . . This is a work of scholarship that cuts no corners and leaves no assumptions unchallenged: it is erudite in scope, sophisticated in critical and analytical discussion, and beautifully written, with a blessed absence of jargon or verbosity, in the author's characteristically lively, readable style."—Pauline Fairclough, Music & Letters

“Different backgrounds and experiences have fed [Frolova-Walker’s] sharp intelligence and make her a particularly interesting writer on Russian music … Impressive … illuminating and refreshing … original and persuasive … sane and informed … Frolova-Walker is particularly good on the … swerving cultural policies of the Soviet Union … It is a difficult task … but she keeps a cool head and picks her way through a mass of material … A searching and rewarding new look at [Russian music].” - John Warrack, Times Literary Supplement

"Seldom has a musicological text exerted such authority over its subject matter. Marina Frolova-Walker sets herself to the task—acquitted brilliantly—of accounting for the elusive qualities that give Russian art music its supposed 'Russianness.'" —Mark Carroll, Slavic Review

"Frolova-Walker has assimilated an enormous amount of material and has presented it compellingly and in ways that can be appreciated by and will be important for all scholars interested in manifestations of Russian nationalist thinking and/or in the process of cultural nation-building." —Andrew Wachtel, Slavic and East European Journal
ISBN: 9780300246452
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
418 pages, 6.14 x 9.21
Stalin's Music Prize

Soviet Culture and Politics

Marina Frolova-Walker

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