Current Chronicle

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:
Current Chronicle

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This chapter discusses the esthetics in Soviet operas, with particular emphasis on Kirill Molchanov's Zori zdes' tikhiye (The Dawns Are Quiet Here). The American première of The Dawns Are Quiet Here was held at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in July 1975. The opera derives its inspiration from the “Great Patriotic War” of 1941–45, and the Tolstoyan roots of “socialist realist” esthetics can be observed in it. The precedents of social realist esthetics of Soviet art and literature can be found in the late esthetic tracts of Leo Tolstoy, particularly in his insistence upon the preeminence of moral import as a criterion of esthetic worth. All art, Tolstoy asserted, must contain the Good and the Important. If these are present, a given work is “moral” and satisfies one of Tolstoy's three criteria for consideration as art, the other two being intelligibility and sincerity. The chapter argues that the socialist realist esthetics was not rooted in the Marxian esthetics, and discusses the impact of socialist realist esthetics in Molchanov's opera.

Keywords: socialist realist esthetics; Marxian esthetics; Dawns Are Quiet; Kirill Molchanov; Leo Tolstoy

Chapter.  4559 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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