Simon Morrison

in Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780520229433
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927261 | DOI:

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This chapter appraises the efforts of Russian composers to incorporate a symbolic paradigm in operas. Four composers share the limelight pertaining to this movement— Pyotr Chaikovsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Scriabin, and Sergey Prokofiev. As a disclaimer, it iterates at the very offset that Russian and the French operas are fraught with philosophical and aesthetic elements, and that the text does ample justice to this element. The Russian Symbolist movement is often divided into two generations of writers: the “decadents” and the “mystics.” Point to note would be that efforts revolving around Symbolism occupied only partially the orientations of these writers. The two schools also involved a fair degree of functional overlapping. A possible inferable generalization observes that while the decadents drew inspiration from the French precedence, the mystics absorbed it from German idealist philosophy. Another distinction between the two schools is achieved at the level of an interpretation of symbols.

Keywords: Russian composers; French opera; philosophical elements; decadent; mystic; German idealist philosophy

Chapter.  14197 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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