A Wonderful Beginning

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI:
A Wonderful Beginning

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This chapter presents the contribution of Mikhail Glinka in the Russian music culture, and also reviews the work of David Brown, the author of Mikhail Glinka: A Biographical and Critical Study. Glinka is seen as “the boundary between the past and the future of Russian music.” As early as the première of A Life for the Tsar in 1836, his work was hailed as “a wonderful beginning” (Gogol) and as the harbinger of “a new element in art” (Odoyevsky). Clearly, something was there that set Glinka immediately apart from all his musical predecessors and compatriots, and time has only magnified his image as founding father, surrounding his name with a mystique the way Ives's name is surrounded on these shores. But even without going so far as to challenge the time-honored evaluation of Glinka's contribution, one has to speculate, precisely, its basis. The more one knows of Glinka and his works, the more elusive the answer becomes.

Keywords: Mikhail Glinka; Russian music; Tsar; Yury Keldïsh's; Odoyevsky

Chapter.  3518 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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