Chaikovsky and Decadence

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:
Chaikovsky and Decadence

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The Russo-Japanese War and “Bloody Sunday”— these two towering political developments spelt the end of autocratic rule in Russia. Signs of an incumbent decadence was reflected in contemporary symbolist literature, which eventually came to advocate revolutionary upheaval. The only composer at the time to give voice to a growing sense of unease in Russian society, Pyotr Chaikovsky, posthumously acquired cult status among the Symbolists. This chapter appraises the mingling of Chaikovsky's works with the decadent school. Although Kitsch elements held sway over his works, Chaikovsky was never an exclusively kitsch composer. A critique of his last opera, Iolanthe, went so far as to label Chaikovsky the prodigious herald of “the music of the future.” Despite claiming Chaikovsky's work as less innovative than Wagner's, the critic, N. Suvorovsky, posits that both composers combined opposing creative principles in their compositions.

Keywords: Bloody Sunday; revolutionary upheaval; Russian society; Klistch; creative principle

Chapter.  27863 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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