Soviet Classical Music

Aram Khachaturian

Revolutionary euphoria in the beginning of XX century and dismissal of centuries-old taboos contributed to the fact that classical music in Russia during the Soviet period was actively developing. Musicians experimentedboldly. Meanwhile, the state again created barriers and rules that were mandatory.

Orchestra Without a Conductor

Violinist Lev Zeitlin transferred the idea of “collective work” into his work – Persimfans (First Symphony Ensemble). It was an orchestra that performed its works without a conductor. A masterful and talented group successfully performed in Moscow until 1932.

Unique Union

In the early 1930s the CCCP of the USSR passed a resolution to create the Union of Composers. Such organization did not exist anywhere else in the world. It controlled any musical activity in the country – from performing musical works to copyrights. The Composers’ Union was aimed at regulating any relations between musical artists and the Party.

Mass Song

This notion in the Soviet times, oddly enough, included all the work of classical composers. Soviet song complied with ideology of the party and the government, supported a spirit of heroism in people, and was a means of education and organization. Such songs as “Song about the companion” by Shostakovich, “Holy War” by Aleksandrov, “March of merry guys” by Dunaevski became the most famous. But the composers’ work was not limited by songwriting.

Holy War by Aleksandrov

Double-Natured Creativity

Most composers, not to violate the prohibition on innovation, had to write both, the official Soviet music, and the works that didn’t contradict their personal views and opinions. It was true for Aram Khachaturian, Dmitri Shostakovich, Nikolai Myaskovsky and Sergei Prokofiev.

Aram Khachaturian

Alfred Schnitke was forbidden from travelling abroad. Most of his works were not allowed to be performed in public. In order to make his ends meet, the composer had to write music for Soviet movies.

Alfred Schnitke

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