Rimsky-Korsakov and Religious Syncretism

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:
Rimsky-Korsakov and Religious Syncretism

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The first ever analogy between religion and music was drawn by Andrey Belïy, in his seminal 1902 work, “The Forms of Art.” In essence, he predicted that the arts, through their gravitation to music, would one day unite fallen humanity with God. Deeming poetry as inadequate for revealing the invisible reality underpinning the visible reality, he advocated Symbolism to shift from poetry to music. Through his work, he sought to trigger a cultural-spiritual revival. Belïy's unrealized novel on the ancient Slavonic chronicle about Kitezh, the Invisible City, was accomplished by another prominent artist of the Silver Age, composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The unique paradoxical influence on the synergy between religion and Symbolism, exerted by Rimsky-Korsakov, given his atheist conformist outlook, is discussed in this chapter. A one-on debate between Leo Tolstoy, a late-life pious and Rimsky-Korsakov, was termed by the former as a “face-to-face” encounter with “gloom.”

Keywords: Andrey Belïy; The Forms of Art; visible reality; poetry; Kitezh; Leo Tolstoy

Chapter.  24177 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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