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AVANT-GARDE COMPOSERS OF THE USSR DURING THE 1920’S. Are the concepts of “permanent revolution” and “socialism in one country” described by their works, inventions and work places of the avant-garde composers of this period?

AVANT-GARDE COMPOSERS OF THE USSR DURING THE 1920’S. Are the concepts of “permanent revolution” and “socialism in one country” described by their works, inventions and work places of the avant-garde composers of this period?

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Published by Alexandra Martin
Throughout the 1920's the concurrent threads of Stalin's theory of ‘Socialism in one Country’ teamed with the momentum injected by his NEP, [New Economic Policy] Trotsky's theory of ‘Permanent Revolution’ and the biases of the newly formed music associations such as the ASM [Association of Contemporary Musicians] and the ARPM [the Association of Proletarian Musicians] coalesced to fuel the required level of ideological tension, in both the new audiences being generated from the mass (workers and Proletariat) education of the illiterate and the poor (as promoted musically by the ARPM) the composers of this era creating opportunities for both ‘art’ and nationalist composers to express themselves both at home and internationally (as promoted by the ASM & IASM) Associations such as the ASM and the ARPM allowed for direct communication and confrontation between musical communities and prepared the ground for an expansive and progressive musical community of and wholly representative of this dramatic era. Although short lived these forces were mirrored in the lives, compositions and inventions of these composers of the USSR. I have chosen to examine just four composers representative of avant-garde Soviet music during this this era and to describe the surrounding forces that influenced and impacted upon where, how and on what they created. These composers are generally regarded as avant-garde although they worked in a variety of genres.
Throughout the 1920's the concurrent threads of Stalin's theory of ‘Socialism in one Country’ teamed with the momentum injected by his NEP, [New Economic Policy] Trotsky's theory of ‘Permanent Revolution’ and the biases of the newly formed music associations such as the ASM [Association of Contemporary Musicians] and the ARPM [the Association of Proletarian Musicians] coalesced to fuel the required level of ideological tension, in both the new audiences being generated from the mass (workers and Proletariat) education of the illiterate and the poor (as promoted musically by the ARPM) the composers of this era creating opportunities for both ‘art’ and nationalist composers to express themselves both at home and internationally (as promoted by the ASM & IASM) Associations such as the ASM and the ARPM allowed for direct communication and confrontation between musical communities and prepared the ground for an expansive and progressive musical community of and wholly representative of this dramatic era. Although short lived these forces were mirrored in the lives, compositions and inventions of these composers of the USSR. I have chosen to examine just four composers representative of avant-garde Soviet music during this this era and to describe the surrounding forces that influenced and impacted upon where, how and on what they created. These composers are generally regarded as avant-garde although they worked in a variety of genres.

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Published by: Alexandra Martin on Sep 13, 2013
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 A
VANT
-
GARDE COMPOSERS OF THE
USSR
DURING THE
1920’
S
.
Alexandra Martin1
 A
VANT
-
GARDE COMPOSERS OF THE
USSR
DURING THE
1920’
S
.
 
 Are the concept 
 s of “permanent revolution” and “socialism in one country” 
described by their works, inventions and work places of the avant-garde composers of this period? 
Throughout the 1920's the concurrent threads of Stalin's
theory of ‘
Socialism in oneCountry
teamed with the momentum injected by his NEP, [New Economic Policy] Trotsky's
theory of ‘
Permanent Revolution
and the biases of the newly formed music associations such asthe ASM [Association of Contemporary Musicians] and the ARPM [the Association of ProletarianMusicians] coalesced to fuel the required level of ideological tension, in both the new audiencesbeing generated from the mass (workers and Proletariat) education of the illiterate and the poor(as promoted musically by the ARPM) the composers of this era creating opportunities for both
art 
and nationalist composers to express themselves both at home and internationally (aspromoted by the ASM & IASM) Associations such as the ASM and the ARPM allowed for direct communication and confrontation between musical communities and prepared the ground for anexpansive and progressive musical community of and wholly representative of this dramatic era.Although short lived these forces were mirrored in the lives, compositions and inventions of thesecomposers of the USSR. I have chosen to examine just four composers representative of avant-garde Soviet music during this this era and to describe the surrounding forces that influenced andimpacted upon where, how and on what they created. These composers are generally regarded asavant-garde although they worked in a variety of genres.According to Richard Taruskin avant-garde (music)
is a ‘military’
term for implied
‘belligerence’
 
and ‘countercultural hostility’
. H
e also refers to ‘
antagonism to existing institutions
and traditions’.
1
Contrastingly, Jonathon D Kramer in his foreword toLarry Sitskys' Music of theTwentieth-Century Avant-Garde: A Bio-critical Sourcebook 
describes the avant-garde (music)aesthetic a little more neutrally
,
avant-garde music is necessarily political, social, and cultural,since avant-gardism challe
nges social and artistic values’
.
2
Both writers appear to be inagreement that the function of avant-garde music is to challenge the status quo and offer
1
Richard Taruskin,
Defining Russia Musically 
(1997 Princeton University Press) 86
2
Jonathon D Kramer,Larry Sitsky, 
Music of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde: A Bio-critical Sourcebook (Greenwood Press, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002) xi
 
 
 A
VANT
-
GARDE COMPOSERS OF THE
USSR
DURING THE
1920’
S
.
Alexandra Martin2alternative fodder on which all may artistically and idealistically graze. This statement can beviewed as consonant with regard to the avant-garde composers of the newly formed USSR during
the 1920’s
, in view of the revolutionary and political climate enforced by the Soviet Union agendaof 
this period. After Lenin’s death in 1924 the USSR’s bid to free itself of imperialism and the
bourgeoisie was to be executed by means of two theoretical methodologies. These were firstly
Trotsky’s Marxist ‘
pre- 1917 theory of 
‘Permanent Revolution’
.
3
(As outlined by the right wing
worker’s party the Mensheviks. Trotsky was later expelled from the party and departed in 1930
leaving Stalin in power)
Permanent Revolution
was conceived as a two level strategy to beexecuted initially at the national level and then implemented by general revolutioninternationally. This theory was to later work along-
side the Stalinist theory of ‘
Socialism in One
Country’
 
‘Socialism in One Country’
focused solely on industrialisation within the Soviet Union.
Socialism in one country
was a means to the development of patriotism within the USSR and was
also ‘
h
eretical to traditional Marxism’
as its
premise put forward that a Socialist revolution couldbe brought about in feudalist society directly with
out the necessity of a ‘bourgeois revolution’
.
4
 Olga Velikanova suggests t 
he 1920’s concept of ‘Soviet Internationalism’
was based on the
international ‘
upr
isings, strikes and revolutions’
such as the British general strike of (1926) TheChinese Revolution (1911), European disturbances and the on-going troubles of Bulgaria,Germany and Hung
ary. According to Velikanova,
the Bolsheviks gambled on world
revolution’
5
.She asserts
that ‘
clearly a world picture was at work in the minds of the peoples of t 
he USSR’
.
6
 Lenin wanted to create a Russian-influenced, unified socialist federal state, with a single, unifiednation with a national and cultural identity.
To realize Lenin’s
mission it was necessary to have astate funded, unilateral, socialist education policy across the entire USSR. This new ideology ranconcurrently with the NEP (The New Economic Policy) as masterminded by Lenin in 1921
7
. Theintroduction of 
Lenin’s ‘
NEP
and the concepts of 
Permanent Revolution
and
Socialism in OneCountry,
the USSR entered an internal and external journey of cultural and educational growth.According to Anna Ferenc
music thrived under (
Lenin’s
)
NEP’
due to a reduction of 
3
Doug Lorimer,
Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution: A Leninist Critique
: (Resistance Books,1998) 6
4
Mevius, Martin.
 Agents of Moscow: The Hungarian Communist Party and The Origins of Socialist Patriotism 1941-1953
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005.) 21
5
Velikanova,Olga.
 
Popular Perceptions of soviet Politics in the 1920’s
:
Disenchantment of theDreamers
(Palgrave McMillan 2013) 56
6
Marina Frolova-Walker,
Russian Music and Nationalism from Glinka to Stalin
( Yale UniversityPress 2007) 302
7
Boris Schwarz,
Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia 1917-1970
(University of Chicago Press1972) 43
 
 A
VANT
-
GARDE COMPOSERS OF THE
USSR
DURING THE
1920’
S
.
Alexandra Martin3
revolutionary militancy
’, ‘
rel
axation of ideological tensions’
,
and ‘
greater permissive in matters of 
musical taste and style’
.
8
In the
1920’
s
music too received its
Soviet sta
mp under the NEP’.
Soviet musicology was also established at this time by Boris Asafyev in 1921. Asafyev also incharge of the music division of the Moscow academy for Arts Sciences. There was no changeconcerning the management of conservatiores. According to Maes they
remained in the hands of 
the traditionalists’
. (Glazunov in St Petersburg until 1928, Maximillian Stienberg in Leningrad,Nikolai Myaskovsky in Mosow.)
9
 According to Boris Swartz
Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia 1917-1970
The Leninist Revolution nu
rtured musical development and ‘experimentation’
through associations such as theASM [Association for Contemporary Music]. (
Especially in ‘
Petrograd and Moscow during the
1920’s’
10
) Associations such as the ASM and the IASM [International Association forContemporary Music] were essential to the international development some Russian composerssought and in accord with the aims and views of 
‘Permanent Revolution’.
Swartz describes therivalry and hostility between the ACM and the RAPM [Russian Association of ProletarianMusicians] who embodied the nationalist 
elements of the ‘Socialism in One Country’
ideology. Hewrites that the constant hostility between these two opposing parties caused detriment to
‘youngcomposers’.
11
The RAPM,
derived from the ‘Proletkult’
(Proletarian Cultural and EductionalOrganisation)
to
destroy bourgeois culture and to create a new culture aimed at the working
classes’
.
12
(Lenin dissolved the PCEO in 1920. The association re-emerged in 1923 affiliated to theRAPM.) The RAPM were enthusiastic about the music of Musorsky as a composer of 
‘dramas of the people’
.
13
T
he ASM tended towards the ‘modernist and internationalist’ perspective such as
Hindemith, Krenek, Les Six. Although there were apparent extremes of view between the ASMand the RAPM they mutually agreed, in the view of Marina Frolova-Walker who writes that the
‘Kuchka’
were to be rejected due to their bourgeois tendencies and their
inherent ‘provincialism’
.
14
The formation of the ASM (by Miaskovsky, Belayev, Sabaneyev and Paul Lamm and was
8
Anna Ferenc,
Soviet Music and Society Under Lenin and Stalin: The Baton and the Sickle: (Music inthe Socialist State : Modernism and Proletkult, 1921-1932
9
Francis Maes,
 A History of Russian Music From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar 
(University of CaliforniaPress 2006) 244
10
Swartz
Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia 1917-1970
: 7 chapter 1
11
Boris Swartz, 49 chapter 1
12
Larry Sitsky
Music of the Repressed Russian Avant-Garde 1900-1929
6
13
Marina Frolova-Walker
Russian Music and Nationalism form Glinka to Stalin.
307
14
Swartz p49

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