Christian Themes in Russian 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:
Christian Themes in Russian Opera

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This chapter discusses the Christianization of Russia that took place in 988, and which was recently celebrated the world over. After considering and rejecting Judaism and Islam, the Great Prince Vladimir of Kiev embraced the Christian faith and established it as a state religion, the statiest state religion that ever was. The distinction is necessary if the subject of these remarks is to have any meaning at all, and it will also help explain why “Christian Themes in Russian Opera” could well be the title of one of those proverbial “short books,” alongside, say, “Famous Organists of the Eastern Orthodox Church,” or “Ecclesiastical Music Patronage in the U.S.S.R.” The many operas, beginning with Tikhon Khrennikov's Into the Storm (1939), that encase the person of Lenin and promote the religious veneration of both the icon and the state for which he stands, have continued to embody an updated but essentially unaltered “Christian theme” such as had served previously to sanctify the Russia Lenin overthrew.

Keywords: Christianization of Russia; Library of Congress; Eastern Slavs; Vladimir of Kiev; Christian themes; Russian opera

Chapter.  4900 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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