Witnessing History during Glasnost

Maria Cizmic

in Performing Pain

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734603
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918546 | DOI:
Witnessing History during Glasnost

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This chapter focuses upon the conversation regarding history and suffering during glasnost, which circulated with particular intensity around the Georgian film Repentance. Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa is included in two scenes that emphasize the personal grief that surrounded loss as a result of Soviet repression. Repentance provides a pertinent context in order to understand the significance of history, memory, and allusion in Pärt’s compositional style, replete as it is with influences from medieval to modern music. Conversely, Tabula Rasa participates in film director Tengiz Abuladze’s interpretation of suffering. Repentance dramatizes the turbulence inherent in bearing witness and raises crucial questions regarding music’s role in representing trauma and loss. Like other modes of representation, does music fall prey to aestheticization and audience indifference? Despite such dangers, can music activate listeners’ profound capacity for imaginative empathy?

Keywords: Arvo Pärt; Tabula Rasa; Tengiz Abuladze; Repentance; memory; witnessing; testimony; loss; trauma

Chapter.  16874 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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