Chapter

The Great Symbolist Opera

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520249790.003.0009
The Great Symbolist Opera

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This chapter conflates two previously published pieces: “A Masterpiece of Musical Surrealism” and “Why the Queen of Spades Is the Great Symbolist Opera.” At the beginning of the year 1888, a composer named Nikolai Semyonovich Klenovsky (1853–1915), who worked as a staff conductor at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater and had produced several ballets there, decided it was time to try his hand at an opera. At the recommendation of his boss, Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolozhsky, the intendant of the Russian Imperial Theaters, Klenovsky turned to Modest Ilyich Chaikovsky, the famous composer's younger brother, who had begun making a name for himself as a dramatist, with a request that Chaikovsky furnish him with a libretto on the subject of Pushkin's novella The Queen of Spades.

Keywords: Queen of Spades; Musical Surrealism; Nikolai Semyonovich Klenovsky; Delights of Hashish; Russian imperial theaters; Pushkin's novella

Chapter.  4854 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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