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Igor Stravinsky, Nikolai Roerich, and the Healing Power of Paganism.
The Rite o Spring as f Ecstatic Ritual of Renewal for the Twentieth Century
Marilyn Meyer Hoogen
A dissertation submitted i partial fdfihnent n o the requirements for the degree o f f
Doctor o Philosophy f
University of Washington 1997
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There was an impulse to return the arts to
their original sacred function in ritual.
. and the Healing Power of Paganism. design. Western scholarship has focused on the sources. and dance at an
enachnent of a sacred mystery that will reveal to the participants the nature of the human spirit and its relation to both the earthly and higher spiritual worlds. Nikolai Roerich. while it has demonstrated less understanding of the concept that motivated Igor Stravinsky and Nikolai Roerich. and style of the musical score. As a corrective it discusses the movement in Russia to express the Russian national cultural heritage in the arts and the role that religious revival played
in the broad debate about Russian identity and Russia's future. particularly in the theater. a union that had been fragmented by rational philosophy and empirical saence. In this
cultural context The Rite of Spring can be seen as a mysterizim for the
twentieth century: it is a grand synthesis of music.University of Washington Abstract Igor Stravinsky. The Rite o Spring as f Ecstatic Ritual of Renewal for the Twentieth Century by Marilyn Meyer Hoogen Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee Professor James D. West Department of Slavic Languages and Literature
This study reexamines The Rite of Spring as a product of turn-of-thecentury Russian culture. structure. Russian creative intelligentsia saw art as a way to reconcile the material and spiritual worlds. Chapter I summarizes Western scholarship on The Rite of Spring.
Chapter II examines Roerich's participation in this debate through his art and writings. musical analyses.
Chapter III describes the Russian intelligentsia's search for religious renewal as exemplified in the works of Alexander Scriabin and Viacheslav Ivanov.
support the concept of The Rite of Spring as rnysterhm. It establishes the prevalence of these ideas across educated and artistic culture. Finally.
He idealized the distant past as an example of a n
aestheticized and harmonious way of life that must be restored to solve modem man's spiritual crisis. rather. Chapter N demonstrates Stravinsky's hrll participation in the religious aspect of this ecstatic ritual. this ritual is one of a life-long
a' series of projects created in an effort to heal m n s life through a synthesis of
art and spirituality. both those
made by Stravinsky's Russian contemporaries and those of modern scholars. His role in The Rite of Spring was not limited to providing ethnographic accuracy.
Ecstatic Ritual and the Mystmizirn: The Intellectual Context in which The Exalted Sacrifice WasBom............................. ...............
The Rite of Spring in Western Scholarship: What's Missing? ....................................
Chapter m...TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter N: Stravinskyfs Mysterircm ...........
"The Future Resides in the Past.........................
...................................." Nikolai Roerich's Concept of The Exalted Sacrifice......................................... 150
James D. assistance.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to my dissertation advisor. Gordana Crnkovic.
West. David Graber and Herbert Coats provided much appreciated
advice. and to the members of the committee. I am also grateful to Richard White
for his wise words on research and writing.
and Larry Starr. and support as well.
. Jack Haney.
Nikolai Roerich is seen as a painter/ethnographer. In the analysis of the form and style of the work and in the search for
musical and ethnographic sources. BulIard. Western
scholarship often adopts the view that Stravinskyfs genius propelled him far beyond what little common vision the collaborators may have had in the
planning stages of The Rife of Spring. "The First Performance of Igor Stravinskyfs'Sacre du Printemps. removed it from its cultural context. for the most part." Montjoie! I/8 29 May 1913: 1. The Rile o Spring is the product of an era in Russia when artists and f intellectuals were searching for ways to transform a world perched
'1gor Stravinsky. the expression of spiritual truth which can transform man's
intelligence. art is a non-rational form of
cognition.2: 6-7. a
ritual performed. Viewed in its cultural context. this ballet is a grand synthesis of music. ornament."' 3 vols.Introduction
From the perspective of turn-of-the-century Russian culture. western scholarship has only partly succeeded in its investigation of The Rile of
Spring. a holy terror of the midday sun."' It is just one example of an idea that
preoccupied the Russian creative intelligentsia.
This methodology necessarily marginalizes the work of Igor Stravinsky's collaborators. a
sort of cry of Pan . and Vaslav Nijinsky is seen as musically ignorant and perhaps mad. the birth of Spring. "Ce que j'ai voulu exprimer dans Le Sane du Printemps. .. in the presence of "the Panic awe of nature.
however. . as Stravinsky himself wrote. quoted in Truman C.
. 1971. and dance. diss. western scholarship has fragmented The
Rite of Spring and.U of Rochester. of the beauty which arises.
when the very rhythm of life changed. nature. Many Russian artists and intellectuals considered the failed 1905 revolution and stirrings of war in Europe ominous indications of the coming apocalypse that paradoxically would bring a new world through the destruction of refined civilization as it was known. . The religious theme became a theme of life. More than just a spiritual quest. the apex of awareness. Eastern Church historian Georges Florovsky recalls the intellectual ferment of this period:
Fin de siecle Russia represented both an end and a beginning. . On the contrary-there
. somewhat ironically. During
those years many suddenly discovered in man a metaphysical being. People began to seek for more than just a religious worldview-a genuine thirst flared up for faith. for vision had become sharper and a new profundity has been revealed in the world. Begun as modernization and industrialization threatened folkways. a time when the material and spiritual worlds were believed to be in balance. A religious need again awakened in Russian society. And just as in the time of Alexander I. This does not mean that everyone was serious and truly valued the sigruficance of what was transpiring. Stravinsky and Roerich were caught in the spell of the ancient spirituality. reshaping them into new
myths for the modern world. and the cosmic elements. and life took on greater risks. this search involved a considerable effort to preserve the oldest traditions of pre-modern culture through systematic collecting. and often dark chasms. The world seemed changed. A need was born for the "spiritual Me" and For preparing and ordering one's soul. The present world seemed to have moved too far from the idealized ancient unity of man. as were many other contemporary poets and painters. it was a new experience. The more the " s o d awoke" the more temptation increased. men suddenly found in themselves unexpected depths. and. . Everything suddenly became quite serious. and not merely a category of thought. transcribing.precariously on the edge of haos. it was again painful and difficult.
incantation have magical power. Vaduz:
. A few found themselves in the Church. Interest in studying and restoring the ancient forms continued. Painters and poets tried their hands at visual and verbal "symphonies.was too much of the most dangerous dilettantism. worshipped unknown gods. Dmitry Merezhkovsky. and t e soul. Artists
including Andrei Bely. some redeemed t e r souls and the souls of their brothers.2 At the turn of the century in Russia. Yet the events themselves became serious and acquired a distinctive and harsh apocalyptical rhythm. "Once h more dreams floated. Those who achieved anything at a i l were outnumbered by the fallen. musical. outside of it. practitioners of literary. Part of this process involved the dissolution of conventional boundaries between the arts." Behind these experiments lay belief in the theurgic property of a t the belief that words and sounds in the form of ritual." It was a time of searching and temptations. saw art as a way to reconcile the material and spiritual worlds. Ways of Russian BiichenrertriebsanstaIt. and dramatic arts. and hopes were seldom realized.
(1937. and r. but many more remained. some were swept from the road and lost. Some were saved. and wished to remain. Paths strangely crossed and diverged. as did attempts to use synthesis of
the arts to create new myth and ritual as a response to the current age. Men's fates were being decided. Still others followed serpentine paths and entered upon a bitter trial. prayer. There was an impulse to return the arts to their original sacred function as an integral part of ritual. Maximilian Voloshin. others perished. white the anxiety of the consaence intensified. Symbolist artists accepted
Vladimir Solovfevrscalling to use the arts as a way of knowing a higher truth. visual. and Viachesiav Ivanov adopted a highly principled and
2 ~ e o r g e s Florovsky. and mere games. contradiction reigned. hi There were many accidents. Nikolai Roerich. captivated by them. the creative intelligentsia. mystical irresponsibility. 1989) 233-234.
the ballet's reception by audiences and critics. a body of legend has attached itself to the work and
has obscured the artistic intent of the collaborators. Robert Craft likened it to "a prize bull [that] has inseminated the whole modern movementw3an assertion substantiated by the profusion of studies that discuss and analyze all aspects of the score." Perspectives of New f S(1966-67): 20. the purveyor of Russian "exotica" to
European audiences. over time "barbarism" came to connote savagery and the subhuman.
. Russians were ambivalent about their reputation as "barbarians" i Europe. n some were anxious to prove themselves as civilized as their European neighbors. The Rite of Spring was conceived in ti context and dearly reflects these artistic hs concerns. In the years since the ballet's riotous
n premiere in Paris i 1913. others. as is Sergei Diaghilev. "The Rite o Spring Genesis of a Masterpiece.uncompromising view of their priest-like roles in communicating their mystical visions of higher truth. and still others
3 ~ o b e r tCraft. The Euro-centric view of Russian "barbarism" was a distortion of a term used by art historians to describe the influx of highly decorative oriental or Byzantine art into the Roman world of architecture and sculpture. a meaning that was easily attached to The Rite of Spring. like Diaghilev. found this image lucrative. and the lives and works of those involved. Of particular concern is the interpretation of The Rite of Spring as subhuman barbarism. They became interested in the occult and sought enlightenment through both contemplative and frenzied ecstasy. Stravinsky himself is
f It is without question that Igor Stravinsky's The Rite o Spring had a
profound impact on twentieth-century music.
In the last several decades there have been numerous attempts in
western scholarship to iden* the musical. He calls The Rife of Spring the ultimate Scythian act-a new use of folk materials that swept away conventions of rhythm. In these analyses Stravinsky's co-librettist and designer Nikolai Roerich has generally been relegated to the role of consultant. and folkloric sources of
The Rile o Spring. nor do they acknowledge that Stravinsky
and Roerich shared one vision for this project. historical. he finds Stravinsky's emancipation from the German-dominated art music tradition a more interesting topic than the collaboratorsf own descriptions of this project. These studies conclusively demonstrate that Stravinsky and Roerich were knowledgeable
in their selection of materials. costume. an influence that he greatly denied. However. and then to reveal Stravinsky's debt to Russian culture. the provider of accurate detail in matters of authentic ritual.
modern parallel to the barbaric Scythian hordes from the
East who swept away ancient Slavic settlements long before the founding of the Kievan state and its adoption of Christianity. they do not address what it was that
Stravinsky and Roerich were doing.
. first to demonstrate Stravinsky's innovation in the use of f
folk music sources in creating a new style.
Music historian Richard Taruskin adopts the view of the ballet as
subhuman and creates a metaphor to describe the form and style of Stravinsky's score.5
thought Russia's connections to the East to be the source of her unique position at the turn of the century. however.
identifies Stravinsky's sources and analyzes the composer's technical and
stylistic innovations. melody. and a story to bring it all together.
rather. it is nearly impossible to isolate lines of "pure" influence. failing to see in them the evidence of a major trend in turn-of-thecenhuy Russian culture that played a large role in Shavinsky's and Roerich's
creative vision. rather than portray ancient ritual with ethnographic accuracy. The various solutions offered were characteristically eclectic. would recreate it in all of
its power. its relation to physical Life. the revival of religious life both within and outside Russian Orthodoxy. As a corrective. The Rite of Spring is a myslerium for the twentieth century: it is
the integration of music and dance to call forth the presence of the spiritual
h world at the enactment of a sacred mystery that will reveal to t e participants
the nature of the human spirit. and its restoration to a higher Life.6
This study has no argument with the influence of Stravinsky's music. Chapter I will give an overview of The Rite of Sp~ingas interpreted in western scholarship. this chapter will provide a brief background of
t e movement in Russia to express the Russian national cultural heritage in h
the arts. or. I will discuss the recent restoration of Nijinsky's
. Dostoevsky. It will also discuss the role religious revival played in the broad debate about Russian identity and Russia's future as exemplified in the writings of Leskov. when Russian sources are gathered. he "dreamed" a pagan ritual sacrifice. Solov'ev. it examines Stravinsky's and Roerich's statements regarding the ballet's concept in the cultural context of early twentieth-century Russia to demonstrate that they had in mind a different and far greater purpose than musical revolution Stravinsky did not have Scythian dreams. and others. He and Roerich envisioned a work that. Common faults of this scholarship are the result of the authors' maintaining a European point of view.
the work f that was taking shape simultaneously with the libretto for The Rite o Spring. Finally.
Chapter III wiU describe the Russian intelligentsia's search for religious renewal as exemplified in the works of Alexander Scriabin and Viacheslav Ivanov. in great part it was manifested in artists' efforts to restore the original religious function of the theater by the selection of repertoire and by joining all of the arts in service to the spiritual realm.panreligious concept is manifested in his fresco The Queen of Heaven.7
choreography and Roerich's costumes and sets for The Rite of Spring that also refutes the frequently expressed view of this b d e t as subhuman barbarism. philosophers. rather. Chapter II will examine Roerich's participation in this debate through
i his art and writings. In Light of the context developed in the first three chapters of this study. It will summarize h s view of the distant past as an
example of an aestheticized and harmonious way of life that must be restored
if modern man's current crisis is to be solved. Chapter IV will examine Stravinsky's concept of The Rite of Spring as evidenced in his comments made prior to the ballet's premiere. Retrospectivism was a major trend in the arts and popular culture at the turn of the century. poets. this chapter will demonstrate that Roerich's role was not limited to providing ethnographic accuracy. After clarifying Roerich's
definition of neonationalism. Stravinsky's statements can be taken at face value and understood as a reflection of an
. and composers did not work in isolation from one another. I will demonsbate how this pan-human. painters. This chapter will establish the prevalence of these ideas across educated and artistic culture in turn-of-the-century Russia. this ritual is one of a life-long series of projects he created in an effort to heal modem man's fragmented life
through a synthesis of art and spirituality.
I use both of these titles in my discussions of the finished project
and the scholarly response to it. for it evokes images of the sacred
ritual they envisioned. Stmuinsky and r the Russian Traditions: a Biography of the Works through Mavra. 2 vols. both those made by Stravinsky's Russian contemporaries and those of modern scholars. I prefer to use their working title
Veliknia zhertva (The Exalted Sacrifie). the first was called Potselui Zemle (A Kiss L the o
Earth). either in the text itself or in footnotes. support the concept of The Rite o Spring that this study puts forth. but in footnotes and bibliographical references they are cited according to the conventions of transliteration. Russian words and titles of publications are translated the first time they appear.
I have used the Library of Congress system for transliteration. Musical analyses.
. or The Rite
of Spring. AU unattributed
translations are my own.
4 ~ o a chronoiogical account of the ballet's various titles see Richard Taruskin.
I have used the Scandinavian spelling of Roerich that he
himself used.important strand of Russia's intellectual dimate. 1996) 871-881. Vesna soiashchennaia
(Consecrated Spring). (Berkeley: U California P. f
This ballet is commonly known as Le Same du Printemps. however.4
In discussion of Stravinsky's and
Roerich's concept of the ballet. In the finished ballet Velikaia zhertva became the
title for the second act. evolved from the French title w i h had become hc
attached to the ballet by the fall of 1911. Its Russian title. Familiar
Russian names have been Anglicized in the main text. and all use of italics follows the author's usage.
l ~ i c h a r d Taruskin. usually overlooked in western sources. Through Mavra. also called neonationalism. I will summarize two successive periods of the nineteenth century movement to express Russian national cultural identity in the arts. Next.
A Biography of the Works
. as a case in point." Finally.
motivates the tendency toward predominantly stylistic or formal analyses of
The Rite of Spring. the Russian and neo-Russian periods. Stravinsky and the Rzissinn Tmditions.' the most comprehensive work to date in its attempt to identify
a l of the traditions that influenced the composer's Russian works.
The element of religious revival. but one l
that nevertheless still suffers from western "blind spots.Chapter I
The Rite of Spring in Western Scholarship: What's Missing?
T i chapter will summarize t e concept of The Rite of Spring in hs h
western scholarship. 2 vols. barbaric violence. (Berkeley: U Catifomia P. sets. wiU be restored to ti definition. Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions. In order to correct this definition. I will discuss the 1987 reconstruction of the original choreography. In particular I will discuss how this scholarship is Limited by its selection of formal or stylistic frames of reference and by its reliance on European interpretations of Russian events and sources.
western definition of neo-Russian style. but
a standad topic in Russian histories and analyses of Russian art o the period f
from 1880 to 1917. I hs
will address Richard Taruskin's recent book. 1996). and costumes as an example of scholarship that supports the ballet as sacred ritual rather than as the presentation of subhuman.
See. folklore. %'he most well-known account comes from Stravinsky's Autobiogrphy: "One day. 1980. 1986) 16-38. then periodically tapped later as it served his immediate
compositional needs. Charles Joseph refers to the memoirs as "mirab le d ictu narratives." Confronting Stravinsky: Man Musician and Modmist.2 Tamskin offers
this explanation: Stravinsky lived very much i the present. They were sacrificing her to propitiate the god of spring. any identification
of Stravinsky's sources beyond his f a m o u s dream would provide material for
a more complete analysis of his work." diss. he was quite n
conscious of creating himself f o r the moment. 3~oseph See also Lawrence Morton. Tempo 128 (1979): 1 . .153-155. Many other scholars refer to this unreliability and to the influence Robert Craft must have had in shaping the later memoirs. when I was finishing the last pages of L'Oiseau defeu in St." Igor Stravinsky. McGilI U. Stm~insky and fhe Piano (Ann Arbor: UMI Research P." 2. "Symbol and Archetype in the Music of Igor Stravinsky: A Study in the Correlation of Myth and Musical Form." s See Charles Joseph..
Instead of the usual
assumption that his early experiences gave him a "latent musical reservoir
[which] was stored. Donald C. watched a young girl dance herself to death. folk music) that he then transformed into his own style.4
By the centennial of Stravinsky's birth i 1982. Jann Pasler (Berkeley: UCP. An Autobiography (7903-1934) (1936. Awareness of Sbavinsky's f
fabricated past led to the
urge to d e b u n k i t More seriously.
. "Footnotes to Stravinsky Studies: Le Sacre du Printemps. I saw in imagination a solemn pagan rite: sage elders. Strauinsky 1-19."3 Taruskin maintains that Stravinsky consciously
acquired "subjects" (Russian art music traditions. seated in a circle. musicologists had n
begun to follow up on their intuitions that there was more Russian content
in The Rife o Spring than Stravinsky admitted. I had a fleeting vision. 1990) 31. Nevile. for example. London: Marion Boyars. Petersburg. ed. 2 4 ~ i c h a r dTaruskin. "From Subject to Style: Stravinsky and the Painters. 2983) 2.In the years following Stravinsky's death in 1971 scholars attempted to
penetrate his well-constructed smoke screen about his own Russian past The
unreliability of Stravinsky's memoirs is well documented.5 Knowledge of Roerich's contribution
2 ~ a r ukin. .
"~ Robert Craft had already summarized the intentions of the authors. . ethnographer.was generally Limited to information contained in the English translation of
his 1930 lecture. painter. . but did not go into detail:
Stravinsky confided his prefiguration of the new ballet to Nicholas Roerich. but it is dear that
he was not interested in what Roerich may have had in mind. . Stravinsky contributing the idea of the division in two parts to represent day and night. insofar as
Stravinsky's memories and [his] collocations of them [were] able" in his 1966 lecture "'The Rite of Springf Genesis of a Masterpiece. designer of Rimsky-Korsakovrs tomb. although inconsistencies in translation of some documents betray the authorsf lack of concern regarding the original
6~icholas Roerich. "Sa~re. for Roerich's knowledge." Perspectives of New Music 5 (1966-67): 22. 1931) 185-191. 23. [At Talashkino] they composed the scenario. "The Rite of Spring Genesis of a Masterpiece. inspired Stravinsky and helped to sustain his vision. with the exception of a single word.7 Craft understood that Roerich's contribution was important.
. an incomparably more effective function than that of set and costume designer by which he is remembered. and it was one of the most fortunate confidences of his life. "Sacre. and Roerich suggesting the episodes based on h primitive ceremonies. They also published letters that hint at Roerich's more active role in the collaboration. Roerich was the catalyst of the subject. t e anthropological titles. are by Roerich." Realm o Light (New York: Roerich Museum P. or
"the argument of the ballet as it was at the time of composition."
Roerich's contribution. f ' ~ o b e r t Craft. archaeologist. whatever it may have been. By the mid
1980s a series o increasingly thorough accounts of the ballet's inception and f
analyses of its musical and conceptual sources had been published: Vera
Stravinskyfs and Cats 1978 chronology induded Roerich's scenarios as well rf' as the composer's.
"Russian Folk Melodies in The Rite of Spring. has various translations. Edmond Strainchamps and Maria Maniates (New York: Norton. "Music and Spectacle in Petrushka and The Rite of Spring." g ~ o r t o 9-16. 1978) 75-107. Taruskin.g In 1980 Taruskin moved f beyond the identification of musical sources to an analysis of the ways these sources are fragmented and transformed and how this contributes to the ballet as a whole. Jann Pasler's contribution to the
International Stravinsky Symposium of 1982 gives Roerich due recognition as a full collaborator in this project.concept of the ballet!
In 1979 Lawrence Morton posited Sergei Gorodetsky's
poems as a Literary source and Juszkiewiu's collection of Lithuanian folk music as a melodic source of The Rite o Spring.
Much of the research done on Stravinsky's Russian period suffers from the authors' unfamiliarity with the Russian cultural context and their need to
Pictures and Documents (New York: Simon." lournal of the American Musicological Society 33 ( 1980): 51 2. 53-81." Confronting Stravinsky." 12~annPasler. n l0~ichardTamskin. "The Rite Revisited: The Idea and the Source of its Scenario. This study is the beginning of Taruskin's remarkable contribution to Stravinsky scholarship. "From Subject to Style.
and what are its meaning and sigmficance on other than purely musical
levels. "The Exalted Sacrifice.1° His artides explore the ideas and source of the ballet's scenario and the importance of Stravhky's association with Diaghdev and the World of
A r t (Mir iskusstoa) group. llRichard Taruskin." Music and Civilization: Essays in Honor of Paul Henty Lang. 1984) 183-202. In Stravinsky's letter to Benois it is "The Great Sacrifice. In this account the working title of the ballet.12 This research has been recently
augmented by Taruskin's monumental study of Stravinsky and the Russian
traditions. his effort to combine musicology with broader cultural perspectives in order to discover what motivates the music." I prefer the translation." two weeks later in Stravinsky's next letter to Benois it has become "The Great Victim. which I will return to below. Velikaia zhertoa. ed.
hers Stravinsky and Robert Craft."
Finally. Stmoinsky in
205. "Symbol and Archetype in the Music of Igor Stravinsky.13
Instead of recognizing the potent currency of the eternal feminine in Russian thought at that time. and archetype that seem to explain what Stravinsky had done. Nevile. A Study in the Correlation of Myth and Musical Form. they fail to conned those ideas to the context of Russian culture at the turn of the century. Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet." diss. 1941) 326. Nevile moves on to other interpretations made in the
1960s that support his own thesis. but he does not connect these ideas more closely to Stravinsky's world:
If [Petrushka] were to be taken as the personification of the spiritual and suffering side of humanity [--or shall we call it the poetical principle?-] his lady Columbine would be the incarnation of the eternal feminine. for example.
I3~lexandre Benois.. Donald Nevile's dissertation.rely on translated sources. trans. I have restored Nevile's ellipsis. symbolism. but Nevile
n fails to ground his study i ideas that were contemporary to this time. quoted in Donald C. Many studies are based on a more modern
framework of ideas. McGill U. "Symbol and Archetype in the Music of Igor Stravinsky. 1980. rather than point to the sources of those ideas i Stravinsky's creative environment and his possible motin vations for using them. powerfully masculine and unreservedly triumphant. and while they often intuitively mention what I believe
to be key elements of the ballet. A Study in the Correlation of Myth and Musical Form" points to many ideas that are indeed quite relevant to Stravinsky's creative mindset around 1910-1913. Nevile cites Alexander Benois' view of the puppet. Instead
he hvns to later European models of myth.
. Mary Britnieva (London: Putnam. then the gorgeous Blackamoor would serve as the embodiment of everything senselessly attractive. In interpreting Petrushkn.
the currency of primitive Russian mythic themes. Nevile leaves the impression that Stravinsky was tuned in to the f current and future European mainstream of ideas."16 Paslerrs analysis is based on the model suggested by Baudelairers poem "Correspondences. 6~asler. Taruskin and Pasler also note Stravinsky's "rapid stylistic and aesthetic transformation between 1911 and 1913. Rather
than investigate why Stravinsky might have made this shift. I will return to some of Nevilefs undeveloped insights in his treatment of The Rife o Spring throughout this study: the f ritual function of the dancers. he makes a
tantalizing comment. Stravinsky 950. and the metaphor of polarity that Stravinsky used to describe the harmonic structure of his pre-serialist compositions." but it limits its discussion to the relation of the separate elements of the ballet. and that the Russian intellectual environment differed in no way from the European.
. Taruskin."'~ makes no further development of this point.~5While it is interesting that later theorists of psychology and myth (Jung.14
Nevile notes Stravinsky's shift from romanticism in The Firebird to physicality. the musical creation of terror and mystery. vulgarity. I5hleviie 217-229. Stravinsky's participation in reviving myths. "In [Stravinsky's] hands this vulgarity lost its degraded
and degrading comotations. and grotesqueness in the music of Petrlishkn. Eliade. "Music" 53.
She demonstrates how Stravinsky moved away from the "vertical
correspondence" of music to plot that formed the basis for The Firebird and
I4~evile 212. and became a symbolic vehicle for conveying the
but Dionysian reality of popular Russian ~pontaneity. not its theme. and others) can account for the imagery and structure of The Rite o Spring. Campbell.
Elena Iakovleva. pervoi postanov ki.19
A scholar at the Russian Museum in St.quite different from the airiness sought by traditional ballet. although she connects Stravinsky's music to the powerful rhythms suggested in the texture of the tree that dominates the center of the early sketches. set design and choreography. Petersburg. A positive
contribution of her study is the emphasis on the equal participation of Stravinsky and Roerich from the inception of the ballet very striking suggestion: Stravinsky attempted to create musical equivalents for the instantaneity and simultaneity projected by the set design. has
Pasler makes one
carefully researched the chronology of Roerich's sketches for the set designs.Petrushka toward the "horizontal correspondences" of Gesnrntkzins tmerk. . 1993) 275-285. and personal interview.shchennaia1 k istorii . Ezhegodnik 1992 (Moscow: Nau ka. Pasler considers "horizontal
correspondences" to be those between the arts of music. "Music" 7 . "Music" 54. "N. K. Stravinskugo 'Vesna srvi. that is "art as total theatreM'* or the notion of
Gesarntktinstwerk that she considers central to the Ballets Russes." Pamiatniki kul'tu y. "Music" 59. . "[they] work between the material worid of sense impressions and the spiritual world of ideas. 1 2 0 ~ P. The sound forms a block with the massive power of the boulders in the set design. Iakovleva.Novye otkrytiia."17 she does not explore this seminal theme of symbolist art. F.
. 19pasler. Rerikh i balet I.
she makes similar claims that Roerich's paintings influenced Stravinsky's
music." for example. . Shavinsky even once described this ballet as an immense and heavy "stone sculpture" .20
Although she recognizes other than formal possibilities for "vertical correspondences. l8pas ler. July 1994.
In The Rite of Spring she sees a developing emphasis on horizontal
correspondences that later manifests itself in modernist works. a concept common in the Russian symbolist aesthetic at the turn of the century. 1982. As part of the ongoing debate over synthesis of the arts. the result of the structural
synchrony among several aesthetic realms. and the Ballets Russes: The Emergence of a New Musical Logic." read in Moscow on 1November 1917." diss. UC Berkeley. 1981. ignoring the role it played as a means to the transformation of the material world." Her analysis of the interplay between the design. 2 2 ~ i k o l a iBerdiaev. Stravinsky. . and the choreography demonstrates how she believes synthesis of the arts is achieved
i The Rite o Spring.. as a transition to n f
a new style. However I will argue that this was not the ultimate goal of the collaborators. Nikolai Berdiaev warned his contemporaries about the danger of such formal experiment if artists lose touch with the human and spiritual elements of art. Weinstock. U of Chicago. . expanded the public's experience of the whole and made it more intense and more powerful than if the arts were contemporaneous but autonomous or if there had been only one of them. "Independence vs. Pasler looks at this synthesis as a step toward the modernist aesthetic that favors structure over narrative as a work's organizing principle.Pasler also uedits Nijinsky for his contribution to making the music "visual. 1918). "Debussy. But she views this synthesis formally." diss. what she calls the development of a new musical logic.. Similar analysis can also be found in Stephen I. but simply a means to an end. the music.
. This was originally a lecture. Krizis iskussfua (Moscow. synesthesia among the senses. "The Crisis of Art. in a
21~annPasler. Interdependence in Stravinsky's Theatrical Collaborations: The Evolution of the Original Production of The Wedding. his works are dominated by his ideas. 233." I do not believe that Roerich was at a l interested in formal experiment l
for its own sake. In her dissertation she allows that
and Roerich in this project falls short of completely exploring the issues that comprised the core of their impulse. and dance in the original production. 24~aslerI "Music" 67.
In fact she commits a rather misleading error in her translation
from the French." rendering the French slave as a cognate instead of the correct "Slav" or " S l a ~ i c . Pasler does not explore
the allusions to the spirit that are so numerous in the very Little bit of Roerich
she quotes." "enchantment. The study simply does not go far enough. but fails to explore why they are there. " ~ ~ error reveals her This
minimal acquaintance with Roerich's works."23 Pasler's study provides analysis that leads to an understanding of Stravinskyrs development of a modernist style. Pasler has intuition about Roerich's contribution that she does not develop. Further. seasonal rites and collective experience than "creating a language of form and movement within the global instantaneous effect of the whole. Pasler's discussion of the concerns shared by Stravinsky.
. she refers to "ancient slave games" in the ballet's program
and to Roerich's "primitive slave paintings. In Chapter III I will discuss the concept of "correspondences" or synthesis of the arts as it developed in Russian theater and ballet. more satisfying
explanations for their interest in prehistoric. design.17
position to follow his chosen mentor.
23~asierI "Music" 68. perhaps because she does not read Russian. had human and spiritual goals in mind as well. Nijinsky. She also refers to the "mysticism. it describes the dramatic shift in his aesthetic by an analysis of the interplay of the music.74." and "otherworldliness" that result from the music and choreography. There are other.
2 6 ~ i r n o n Karlinsky. however." Confronting Stmuinsky. Norfolk: New Directions.26
He ignores this "problem. "Igor Stravinsky and Russian Preliterate Theater.
. 1959) 95. discuss the "landscape" disclosed as Stravinsky and Roerich intended us to see it. quoted in Louis Andriessen and EImer Schonberger. The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941. Jeff Hamburg (New York: Oxford UP. 5. mostly defunct preliterary dramatized folklore is a fascinating problem in creative psychology. here f I'm going to show you not the painting of a landscape. trans. and I trust their harmonious fusion will disclose the landscape as I intend you to see it"25 Studies like Pasler's focus on w a v e l i n g the " h a r m o ~ o u sfusion" to discover the musical sources and how Stravinsky uses them. and each piece that finds its match
evokes a sense of great intellectual satisfaction. but the painting of different ways of painting a certain landscape. Andriessen and Schonberger
n quote Nabokov's analogy as a apt description of this puzzie:
The music of Stravinsky sounds "as i a painter said: Look. by his
day. 1989) 17. yet most still seem more f attracted to analyses of the structure and style of Stravinsky's music than to the larger question. The Apollonian Clockwork." however. "What did Stravinsky and Roerich intend to accomplish?" At the International Shavinsky Symposium Simon Karlinsky commented:
Why this musical innovator chose to compose some of his most revolutionary works on subjects taken from archaic. . On Str~vinsky. and. Scholars familiar with Russian language and the cultural context have added to our understanding of The Rife o Spring.The nature of Stravinskyfs stylistic transformation is an enticing
puzzie that has lured many scholars. Too few
scholars. in effect supporting the view that
Stravinsky was an anomaly of creative genius rather than a product of his
2 5 ~ Nabokov.
religious and philosophical "circles. Karlinskyfs analysis does contribute to our understanding
of Stravinsky's development of modernist style. and religious philosophy. and ApoIZon. Without documenting Stravinsky's opinion.
. Eclecticism dominated. Andriessen and Schonberger assert
2 7 ~ a r l i nky. The Scales. literary. theurgy. there was a great mingling of minds at various musical. but they steer dear of admitting the influence of religious or mystical ideas. The Golden Fleece. spiritualism.
but categorically deny that Stravinsky might have paid attention to Scriabin's ideas. Russian messianisrn. "Igor Stravinsky" 6. studies demonstrate Stravinsky's weliability
in admitting his debt to Scriabin." as well as on the pages of contemporary journals such as M r iskusstoa."
This and other studies that have returned Stravinsky to the context of
turn-of-the-century Russian culture still generally ignore a large part of that
culture. Zolotoe runo. and Apollo.time and culture. they point out abundant musical influences. Vesy. Most willingly discuss the influence o Diaghilev and the aesthetics f
of the World o Art group on Stravinsky's works for the stage. The world of the Russian intelligentsia was not neatly compartmentalized into dearly defined groups. but in f
discussing these influences they exdude ideas associated with the impulse toward religious revival that manifested itself in serious discussions of mysticism. He traces the internalization
and progressive "deformation" of folk materials in Stravinsky's stage works
from Petrushka to Histoire du Soldat where he created "dazzlingly original
Russian music that was free of both ethnography and stylization.28 i Scholars have proved the influence of this mingling i the realm of n Stravinsky's music. For example. s 28~he World of Art.
Saiabin's ideal of a musical Universe-orchestras and choirs wandering through a paradisial India.The relationship of Stravinsky to Scriabin is more complex. if only because Saiabin's aesthetics and philosophy of art were completely alien to Stravinsky. the Prefatory Action." Taruskin
concludes that the poem's appeal lay in its fire poetry. playing and singing against a background of sunrises and sunsets. and words were what I needed. f 3 l ~ ruskin. . not meanings. it had to be. was supposed to last seven days-belonged to a world of Blavatskian utopianism that Stravinsky even then. this study will address the pervasiveness of religious revival in the public discourse of artists and intellectuals and as a specific feature of Roerich's life work-
29~ndriessen Schonberger 239. Balfmont's text has a mystical. And Stravinsky played Scriabin. . hugging one another. Martin Cooper (New York: Holmes & Meier. Struoinsky. the inventor of 'mystic chords' has left tracks. "Even in the Sacre. Zoezdoliki is commonly translated as The King o the Stars. "its words were good. trans.
. and the audience too. Sbauinsky 780-79 a 1. since merely the introduction to M y s l e r i u r n . He played Scriabin on the same piano that he played the Sacre on before he wrote down the notes. In the pages following this assertion the authors discuss the and structural and harmonic similarities in the two composers' works.31 As a corrective to these omissions of the religious context.30
In a ten-page section on Bal'mont." 240. which he then links to the sun god in The Rife. Taruskin asserts that "Russia's poets and
musicians did not as a rule know or understand one another particularly well" and that Stravinsky's justification for this setting is too facile. 30~ndr6 Boucourechliev. considered much out of date? Others have made similar daims regarding Stravinsky's setting of Russian symbolist Konstantin Balfmont's poem Zoezdoliki. particularly after the blinding daylight and the humor of Petrz~shka. 1987) 54. symbolical character such as might well have appealed to Saiabin How such a text could appeal to Stravinsky is a puzde.
. Neonationalism was a departure from earlier attempts to reproduce Russian folk culture in the arts with ethnographic accuracy. As a definition
of neonationalism. this music. nor even a showpiece ballet divertissement like Le Festin. perspective. quoted in Taruskin. h e . a dominant trend in the Russian cultural world from I880 to 1917. "Russkiy sezon' v Parizhe. the concepts behind the works. this is no patriotic display of our "national countenance. he discusses the cultural context. Taruskin provides analysis
of cultural influences on Shavinsky in his Russian years. Bracketed translations are Taruskin's. 10 (1910): 21. formerly the object of the artist's pity. Taruskin quotes Yakov Tugenhold's review of
Diaghilev's 1910 Saison russe in Paris which included the premiere of The Firebird: Despite all the cosmopolitanism of our art. rhythm. and now art is retuzning along with choreography. and so forth. To its inexhaustible living mine music has returned. one already sees the beginnings of a new and long-hoped-for style in Russian archaism. this ballet based on Slavonic myth." but a serious longing for the unfettered milieu of folk mythology. this painting by Golovin. Now artists fragmented folk arts into elements of color. these ballet numbers [tantsy] transformed into folk dance [plyas]. brocaded w t antique ih patterns (even to the point of being too patterned and honeycaked)-is this not the very latest attainment of our art? Here we no longer behold official Stasovian cockerels." Apollon. and recombined the elements into their own creations. harmony. Stravinsky 502. providing abundant examples to prove Stravinsky's debt to Russian culture. the composition process. The folk.32
32~akov Tugenhold. The Firebird. is becoming increasingly the source of artistic style. Taruskin's framework for his discussion of The Rile of Spring is neonationalism. suffused with folk melodies. the so-called Russian style. and he analyzes the final products.In Straninsky and the Russian Traditions.
easel painting. verbal.Taruskin. by Melgunov in 1879 and 1885. ni the Literary arts. See Evgenia Kirichenko. and for many. by Rimsky-Korsakov in 1875 and 1877. See Richard Leonard. Dr. interiors and furniture. all of the arts-architecture. A Histo y o Russian Music (1957. In 1886 and 1893 the Imperial Geographical Society sent expeditions to the north of Russia to collect native music. A brief summary
of the movement to express Russian national cultural identity in the arts will correct this omission and will provide a more complete background against
w i h Stravinskyfs and Roerich's work on Veliknia zhertua (The Exalled hc
Sacrifice) can be examined. Russian Design and The Fine Arts 1750 . and musical artifacts of the rich indigenous culture that existed prior to and in spite of Peter's reforms. utensils. interior design. Westport: Greenwood P. and beginning in 1876 a new journal. These responses were inspired by growing collections of visual. published designs and motifs for Russianstyle wooden dwellings. Arch Tait (New York: Abrams. trans. and the applied arts. and graphic artsin some way reflected the desire to assert autonomy from the dominance of
western culture in Russia begun by Peter I early in the eighteenth century.1917. Later collections were aided by the use of recording devices that precluded f the "correction" of what the collector was hearing. however. Motifs of Russiizn Architecture. Like Pasler.33 Underlying much of this movement was the belief that Russia continued to be different from the West.
From 1850 u t l 1917. including furniture. omits one important aspect of this trend. In 1870 and 1872 two volumes were published on Russian folk ornamentation. induding
3 3 ~ o m eof the earlier folk music collections included those made by Balakirev in 1866. art
music including ballet and opera.
. This omission
is common in western surveys of Russian art of this period. by Tchaikovsky in 1872. uses the neonationalist approach to source materials to account for the radical &ange in the form and style of Stravinskyfs works. His presentation of neonationalism. 1991) 125. the impulse toward religious revival that manifested itself both within and outside Russian Orthodoxy. book design. Parallel efforts collected and recorded folklore and rituals. 1977) 200.
cross-eyed gunsmith possessed the talent to
sr surpass the work of British artisans who had presented T a Alexander I with
a life-sized. Nikolai Leskov's 1881 story "The Left-hander" (Levsha)3* carries this theme: a simple. This gift
would enable them to solve the pressing problems threatening the future of
3 4 ~ i k o l a iLeskov. and the vast gulf that separated the primarily westernized intelligentsia from the wisdom of the people. The continuous harsh beatment of the
Ieosha by Nicholas I's court. caused the levsha's death before he could reveal his discovery. a manifestation of the disregard for the wisdom
of the little people. dearly a messianic role. after the leosha was given VIP treatment by
Nicholas I. Were it not for the Russian bureaucracy that refused to listen.
. clockwork steel flea. Leskov. Feelings of spiritual and moral decline
were symptomatic of the problems revealed in the rapid social changes and the loss of fokways caused by industrialization and urbanization." N. the Ievsha could have prevented Russia's defeat in the Crimean War. this difference was positive. he had learned that Russian gun-cieaning methods seriously compromised the guns' accuracy. using the voice of a simple. They felt themselves superior
in their ability to synthesize their eastern and western heritages. 1966) 358389.the intelligentsia. the Ievsha and his fellow Tula gunsmiths crafted tiny shoes (signed by the
artists) for the flea's feet Later. provincial. Leskov explores the
Slavophile and Westernizer points of view concerning western technology. the economic crises of both peasants and landowners. provincial storyteller and
many images and devices from Russian folklore. Povesti i msskmy (Leningrad: Lenizdat. 5. years later at the bidding of Tsar Nicholas I. "Levsha. In this story. his fate changed.
Fyodor Dostoevsky articulated both of these ideas. 1989)
. had become the Third and find Rome.35 Dostoevsky refutes the Westernizersf argument that Russia must
35~. this powerful religious idea could not help but spread beyond the realm of religious activity through the following centuries." or
the solution for the future of mankind. her role was to illuminate the whole world in the Christian f a i t h This doctrine arose horn religious conviction. The fragmentation of Russian society caused by Peter 1's westernizing reforms emphasized the dual nature of Russia: it was a society that could adapt to western ideas. his adopted folk idiom was so well crafted that his contemporaries accused him of passing off a piece of folklore as his own creation Only later did critics come to appreciate the literary craft of Leskovfs text and his quite serious message.while celebrating the innate s i l of Russian craftsmen in spite of the kl deplorable state of their working conditions in Russia.
written early in the sixteenth century by Abbot Filofei of Pskov. "Pushkin (ocherk)"and "Ob"iasnitelrnoeslovo po povodu pechataemoi M. In his well-known Pushkin speech of
1880. however. it was believed that it and the previous Church of Rome had fallen because of corruption and heresy. nizhe rechi o Pushkine. Moscow. separate from any political program." D n m i k pisafeliia. the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church. Ironically. He was concerned that educated Russians had turned away from the common people-the very
people who possessed the special insights which could provide "the word. Following the fall of the Chuch of Constantinople to infidel Turks in 1453. but it was also a society whose mission for the future of mankind depended on its innate. lzbrannye stranitsy (Moscow: Sovremenni k. The conviction that Russia had a messianic role in the future of
humankind dates much earlier to the doctrine of Moscow the Third Rome. Dostoevsky. non-western aetributes.
to excuse and reconcile differences.1880 and published in the 1881 volume of D n m i k prkateliia. ky 37~ostoevsky 1293. .The speech was delivered to the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature on June 8. Dostoevsky points to Russia's long history of borrowing and adapting from other peoples. 2 vols. our new conscious hope in the strength of our People.
. science. and in so doing we revealed the quality that had only just been made manifest--our readiness and our indination for the general reunification of all people of all the tribes of the great Aryan race. . making no discriminations by race. knowing how to eliminate contradictions. Passages quoted in the following section use Kenneth Lank' translation. and with it our faith in our future independent mission in the family of European peoples would not have been formulated with such unshakable force?
For Dostoevsky the Russian spirit transcends narrow nationalism and extends to universalism. and civil law in order to have a voice in the West regarding the future of humanity. 36~ostoevs 1291. Instead. he insists that Russia must turn to the wisdom of its rural past if it is to serve a messianic role in the history of mankind. it might well be that o w faith in our Russian individuality. (Evanston: Northwestern UP. all of them together. 1994)2: 1271-1295. had Pushkin not existed. Fyodor Dostomsky. knowing instinctively almost from our very first step where the distinctions lay. "[flor what is the strength of the spirit of Russiamess if not its ultimate aspirations toward universality and the universal brotherhood of peoples?"37 Russia's future does not depend on the strict acceptance or denial of western ideas. Indeed the mission of the Russian is unquestionably pan-European and universal.follow the European path of development in economics. To
514-537. he predicts Russia's strength lies in her ability to reconcile western rationalism with her own indigenous wisdom: Russia accepted the genius of other nations into our soul. A Writer's Diary. Dostoevsky uses
Pushkin as a springboard to launch into his own view of this role:
become a real Russian, to become completely Russian perhaps, means just . . . to become a brother to a l l people, a panhuman if you like. . . . Oh the nations of Europe simply do not know how dear they are to us! And subsequently, I am certain, we ( mean I not we, of coutse, but Russian people to come) will realize to the very last man that to become a genuine Russian will mean specifically: to strive to bring an ultimate reconciliation to Europe's contradictions, to indicate that the solution to Europe's anguish is to be found in the panhuman and all-unifying Russian soul, to enfold all our brethren within it with brotherly love, and at last, perhaps to utter the ultimate word of great, general harmony, ultimate brotherly accord of all tribes through the law of Christ's Gospel.
. . . the Russian soul, the genius of the Russian People may have
a greater capacity than other nations to embrace the idea of the universal fellowship of humans, of brotherly love, the sober view that forgives enmity, distinguishes and excuses that which is dissimilar, eliminates contradictions. This is not a n economic trait or any such; it is only a moral trait, and can anyone deny or dispute it in the Russian People?38
Those desiring to express Russian national cultural identity looked to
Russian spirituality as a foundation. This was perhaps most conspicuous in architecture. I 1883 Count Uvarov, who in 1825 had promoted Orthodoxy, n Autocracy, and Nationality as the three essential elements of official populism, was part of a committee overseeing the construction of the red brick Moscow Historical Museum on Red Square. The architect Vladimir Shemud hied to give the building an ecclesiastical character to communicate
"the fact that the church is not just a holy idea in our popular history, but the
primary cultural element of our nationhood."39 The questionable result of this attempt notwithstanding, nineteenth-century Russian architecture often drew on the lines and rich ornament of seventeenth century Russian church
architecture for both religious and secular buildings.40 The first two decades
of the twentieth century saw an increase in the numbers of churches and
monasteries built in Russia. From 1900-1917, 165 new monasteries were
founded; from 1906-1912, 5,500 new churches were built.*'
This revival of
church construction invited broad participation of the artistic community. Painters entered competitions for the design of new and restored churches; they designed fabrics for vestments, restored icons and painted new ones. Vasnetsov, Nesterov, Bilibin, Vrubel' and Roerich were among those active
in creating religious applied art."
Composers were also involved in creating
new church music. Rachmaninov, for example, composed The Liturgy of Saint JohnChrysostom (1910) and a cycle of Vespers (1915).43 The philosopher and poet Vladimir Solov'ev (1853-1900), like his dose friend Dostoevsky, carried throughout his works the belief in Russia's messianic role. He is perhaps best known as a religious philosopher who worked to make Orthodox theology a meaningful part of modem society. He advocated a positive role for Christian Russia in the historical process, dearly a messianic role for Russia in the reconciliation of Russian Orthodoxy and western Christianity in a Universal Church. He formulated powerful ideas of reconciliation which influenced Russian thought well past the turn of the century. He assumed a dialectic in his thought process that used the
reconciliation of opposites to arrive at a new synthesis. He wrote passionately about the pantheism of nature, a reconciliation of matter and spirit. He
40~irichen 1 1 . ko 3 41Kirichenko 202. 42See Kirichenko for numerous illustrations of examples. 43~ergei Rachmaninov, The Vespers, dir. Vladislav Tchernouchen ko, Cappella of St. Petersburg, Saison Russe, Le Chant du Mond, LDC2888050,1994.
promoted the image of Sophia, the world soul who promised love and reconciliation for all peoples. This imagery, present everywhere in Solov'ev's poetry, took on an important role in Russian philosophy and symbolist poetry. It reflects the neo-Platonic idea that reality is arranged along a vertical axis from the material at one end to the spiritual at the other. Other polar opposites include male and female, reason and the irrational, Apollo and Dionysus, Cosmos and Chaos. Both poles are essential; there is an attraction between them. An artist or poet, through an ecstatic or irrational experience, was the most likely candidate to reconcile the contradiction, or antinomy, of
the opposite poles. The artist, now fulfilling the role of a priest, could then
bring to the material world the knowledge gained through his ecstatic, creative vision and, as a result, bring about the transformation of the material world. Just as Dostoevsky asserted that Russia's strength lay in her knowing how to reconcile differences, Russian philosophers were obsessed with the problem of integrating belief with reason in a philosophical theory of cogni t i ~ n .Following ~ ~ European Neo-Kantian philosophers' efforts to
revise Kant's philosophy of knowledge, the Russians felt themselves particularly suited to develop a theory based on the direction Kant indicated
in The Critique of \udgemmt, that the absolute might be knowable through
other non-rational modes of human discourse. From 1889 this question was discussed frequently in the pages of the philosophical journals Voprosy
4 4 ~ o a detailed description of this movement in Russian thought see James D. West, "The r Philosophical Roots of the 'National Question,"' Studia Slavica Hungarica 41 (1996): 55-66. See also Janes D. West, "Art as Cognition in Russian Neo-Kantianism," Studies in East E!i ropenn Thought 47(1995): 195-223.
N. or other literary arts--could be a practical solution to the moral disintegration of the world around them. It must be swessed. I. and philosophy. a particular view of the
4 5 ~ u e s t i o n sof Philosophy and Psychology. first and foremost. Grot. 4 6 ~ a r i aCarlson.filosofii i p~ikhologii4~and Logos. the question also captured the minds of Russian symbolists. It is important to remember that Russian intellectuals believed that their ideas-xpressed
. and the composer Scriabin." A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia. Given that license. drama. of matter and spirit. Theosophy offered a compelling alternative to twentieth-century man's hagmented life:
One of Theosophy's greatest temptations for certain idealist elements within the Russian intelligentsia was its promise of the Great Synthesis: of science. and of East and West. "No Religion Higher Than Truth. Sergei and Evgenii Trubetskoy. that the future they visualized was both "Russian. 7993) 6 . 1875-1922 (Princeton: Princeton UP. For these idealists Theosophy was. Russian thinkers h u l y believed that they held the key to the future of mankind." and "panhuman. however. painting. Lapshin. It was widely believed that the West had come to recognize and appreciate Russia's particular mode of thought
through the literary works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
plus the long-held belief in Russia's messianic role. a "syncretic mystico-religious philothat hs sophical ~ystern"4~ gained momentum during ti same period as a part of a broader European fascination with the occult. This particular group of thinkers included the philosophers Solov'ev.
This religious consciousness had much i n
common with Russian Theosophy. the symbolist poet Ivanov. and Alexander and Aieksei Vvedensky." Symbolist artists had accepted Solov'ev's calling to use the arts as a way of knowing a higher truth. music. religion.
. of good and evil. and science-of faith. sublime." ."48 Theosophy's Great Synthesis and search for the Truth supported the growing impulse to return the arts to their original function in ritual where they were conjoined in service to the sacred. and glorious system that reconciled all contradictions between sacred and profane and expressed the Tncth." Mikolajus Ciurlionis (1875-1911) painted
f works with musical titles. a global utopia.world. . hence latent with theurgic energy.
. and experience. 2nd. that is dissolving the conventional boundaries between the arts. but it seemed to have already achieved the unification of the secular and the religious spheres into one enormous. Such ritual and the pure expression of the beautiful in art could transform the material world by embodying spiritual principles in it. vol. "Skriabin and Russian 'Mystic' Symbolism. "Krasota v prirode." Nineteenth Century Mwic 3(1979): 44. another "fragmentation" of the modem world. thought. Art he stated to be a microcosm of "total-unity. "Art must be a real force. ed." he proclaimed. Painters and poets tried t e r hands at hi visual and verbal "symphonies. . 2 (Moscow: Mysl'. Behind these experiments lay
the belief in the theurgic property of art-that
words and sounds in the form
of prayer and incantation have magical power to evoke the gods and spirits
and bring them closer to man. philosophy." (1899). for example Sonata o the Stars and Andante (1908)
*~ulalcom Brown. and of the purpose of human existence.49 Artists also experimented with synthesis of the arts. Theosophy promised a single brotherhood uniting all humanity. of life and death.47 Solov'ev saw a dear role for art in this process of synthesis: [Solov'ev] viewed reality as a transcendent "total-unity" whose feeble comprehension by man required a synthesis of religion. . It was neither a faith nor a science (both had been discredited). "enlightening and regenerating the entire human world. . 49~his idea is developed in Solovev's essay. 1990) 2: 351-389. Sochineniia. of God and man.
the Aryan race that had so long dominated world evolution. and finally give voice to its spiritual "word."
All this had been predicted by Mme Blavatsky. the impending apocalypse had a cosmic purpose.50
[Theosophists] subscribed to the "Russian idea" and saw in Theosophy that spiritual union of East and West that would bring Russia out of its long sleep and send it forth to save decaying Western civilization from the deadening hand of positivism and scientific materialism. superior cycle in which Russia would f l i l its dharma. the "higher truth" that informs its cosmic ufl mission. and Russia held the keys to the future of mankind: World war. FoLlowing the cosmological pattern. after a period of obscuration. according to Theosophy. the brief period of obscuration would be followed by the rise of the Slavs and the fulfillment of their cosmic mission. The Slavs were to be the people of the next (sixth) cub-race. civil war were all perceived as reflections in the material world of a cleansing catastrophe that heralded the end of one cycle and.in an attempt to give expression to musical elements on the two-dimensional
space of the canvas. Mrs. blending f i n de si&deRussian millennialism and messianisrn with Buddhist cosmology. knew what that mission would be. revolution. Andrei Bely wrote four symphonies in prose between
Theosophy strengthened the perception that Russia had a messianic role to play. Besant. and Rudolf Steiner (well before 1917.51
The Theosophists' way of coming to know higher truth depended on
developing a particular kind of receptivity that is possible only when the self
. he had made several predictions about the catastrophe that would overtake Russia). Clearly the world catastrophe only heralded the end of the fifth sub-race. theirs was a b r a a n t future. The Theosophists. the beginning of a new.
A. Theosophy. was a close companion of Viacheslav Ivanov from 1907-10. Roerich was involved with Theosophy at least as early as 1906. things and events can speak to
the seeker. 1910) 16453~ely participated in a Moscow Theosophical Circle as early as 1902. See Stefani Hope Hoffman. Petersburg: Stasiulevich. and during the years 1912-1916 he studied Anthroposophy in Europe. Artists including Bely. spending 1914-1916 in Domach. Receiving this knowledge is contingent upon a state of mind that rejects the more customary. Columbia U. It returned a specifically religious function to art. It supported the view of the Russian people as a particularly gifted resource for the future of mankind. the translator of Steiner's Teosofia. and Ivanov
adopted priest-like roles as they communicated their mystical visions of higher truth. 1975.'' diss. Carlson 89. 163. rational imposition of one's self on things and events that results from speaking about them. Voloshin. Anna Mintslova. trans. and artists were viewed as especially gifted souls. Mintslova (St.
In Chapter III it will be shown that the
renunciation of the self is a commonplace among those who seek spiritual enlightenment. and the occult have
52~udolf Steiner. retzospectivism in art focused on rejoining the arts in sacred ritual. Roerich. Switzerland with Steiner.is transcended.53 Along with other members of the creative inteiligentsia. R. Although many
Russian artists who explored mysticism.
f Theosophy offered a way of integrating key ideas o Russian religious
revival. He later followed Steiner's "Christianized" adaptation of Theosophy. who participate in revealing beauty in the material world. they
studied the occult and sought spiritual enlightenment through ecstatic experience. Anthroposophy.
. "Scythianisrn: A Cultural Vision in Revolutionary Russia. or priests. for in this state of openness. Teosoj%z. Their attitudes toward art and religion were undoubtedly influenced by their participation in Theosophic cirdes in the first decades of
this century.S2 This way of knowing is evident in Roerich's approach to
artifacts of ancient civilizations and in his own spiritual search.
. "5"owever. and secret sectarian ecstasies (mdeniia). . even if their
S4~imon Karlinsky.Karlinsky uses the term "bogeyman" in describing Roerich's titles for the dances in The Rite of Spring. "The Composer's Workshop. And not only Petersburg was caught up in the trend. The Russian Spiritualist journal Rebus reported in 1906 that "according to our correspondent. than western scholarship usually acknowledges: Occultism. 1875-2922. "Eccentric Russian mystics" have not fit a
scholarly paradigm. . western scholars have
generally ignored these activities.
. Russian symbolists. . all of Petersburg is caught up in an unusually powerful mystical movement and at the moment a veritable maelstrom of little religions." A History of the Theosophical Movement
Russia. gypsy fortune-tellers. demonstrations of hypnotism. This movement embraces both the upper and lower levels of society. Admirers of Theosophy are uniting and are even beginning to discuss the question of building a Buddhist lamasery (a dormitory) and a Theosophic-Buddhist temple. If these activities are discussed at all. Moscow and the provinces buzzed with new secret societies. and sects has taken shape there. "No Religion Higher Than Tnith. People knew about these things. public Spiritualist seances. Every educated reader who was not a recluse had at least a nodding acquaintance with Theosophy and Spiritualism." . has established the
pervasiveness of occult practices and the influence of prominent mystical philosophers in the broader cultural life of Russia around the turn of the century. it is commonly with
a condescending tone peppered with terms such as "pseudo-religious" and
"bogeyman. especially following the relaxation of censorship in 1905. Theosophy was more widespread in Russia.found a place in the West's view of Russian culture. in a bewildering variety of forms.
this view has recently been corrected. . Maria
Carlsonrs 1993 study.and others. Among the upper levels we find the Theosophic-Buddhist trend. cults. became the intellectual craze of the time. Taruskin is fond of the qualifier "pseudo-" in descriptions of the ideas and activities of Roerich." The Nation 15 June 1970: 730-733.
In general the movement to express Russian traditional culture in the
arts developed over a period of time.55
Scholars have begun to acknowledge the influence of Theosophy in the
works of Scriabin. etc. the very threat to the peasant
5 6 ~ o example. Venetsianov's paintings of Russian peasants. Roerich. Borisova and C. The use of Russian subjects and
ornament in art forms that had been borrowed from the West. Ivanov. in reference to the literary arts. perspective.56 evolved into a gradual fragmentation and synthesis of the elements of folk art (color. 57~aruskinrefers to this style as neonationalism.
This study will
place Velikaia zhertoa in this context.Iu Sternin. Ruskii modern (Moscow:Sovets kii khudozhnik. 2 2 I. Bely.) into the socalled new style (novyi stil') or neo-Russian Style.knowledge was based only on cafe gossip and sensational newspaper artides in N o w e Vremia. inspired both by artists' rejection of the aesthetic imposed
by the Academy of Fine Arts and by the call for art to serve social reform. and others. It is also known as the rnoderne. industry. or. The idea hs that Russia's future was inextricably Linked to the peasants' and workers' future fueled interest in the peasants' heritage as well as in efforts to preserve
and protect that heritage. Kirichenko 43. 109. and it will demonstrate that this intellectual climate is evident in the concept of the ballet. 1990) 20. See E. rhythm.57 The Russian style
parallels the turn toward realism in literature and easel painting in the mid nineteenth century.
Verisimilitude and "scientific" accuracy in duplicating the forms of decoration were valued in t i period dominated by rationalism. melody. and the surface use of Russian r decoration on the still classical lines of the Moscow City Duma and the Upper Market Rows. I. Ironically. the so-called
. symbolism. I wiU return to the religious function of the arts in Chapters II and
.58 The pervasiveness of this revival of Russian design is evident in the pages of historical surveys of Russian art and architecture in the second h l of the nineteenth century. especially in urban settings and in
structures that were essentially monuments to western technology and industrialization.59
The revival of wooden architecture. it had no rivals. George Hamilton. Wooden pavilions. for example. an effort to create a utopia or paradise on earth through the total aestheticization of the Living and working environment. especially the heavily decorated peasant hut or izba. near
Moscow. the 1870 Manufacturing Exhibition at St. in both architecture and applied art. Kllstar' workshops such as those at Abramtsevo. we should emphasize once more that a it was the only stylistic movement in this period which could L y d i to being tnrly universal and comprehensive.way of life. provided some means for its preservation by patronizing the
kustar' movement. See Kirichenko 99-101. The Art and Architecture of Russia (1954. This trend continued until early in the twentieth century. Kirichenko. carefully copied fiom traditional peasant design. Petersburg. and Talashkino. near Smolensk. New York: Penguin.
58~or example. can be seen as an effort to provide an antidote or balance to the rapid changes threatening the ideal of Russian traditional life. 1983) 395. In the extent am of its dissemination and popularity. 1872 Polytechnic Exhibition in Moscow and the Paris Exhibition of 1878. 59~irichen 132.
The kustar' movement was in the same spirit as the earlier Arts and
Crafts movement in Britain. preserved and taught Russian applied art and also attempted to provide income to peasants whose livelihood was threatened by urbanization. writes: af Concluding our history of the Russian styLe of the second half of the nineteenth century. both in Russia and abroad. In the 1870s there was a revival of wooden architecture. were the attraction at manufacturing and polytechnic exhibitions in the 1870s.
61~irichenko 140. Vladimir Stasoo and Russian National Culture (Ann Arbor: UMI Research P. stylization. it is important to clarify his position and his role. a 63This section is based on Yuri Olkhovsky.36
Dostoevskyfs pronouncement.62 The art historian and critic Vladimir Stasov (1824-1906) was an ardent supporter of painters and musicians who attempted to reflect the Russian cultural heritage in their works. remaining active even in the beg-g of the twentieth. and of art with religion and philosophy. I Chapter II I will demonstrate how Roerich's work was based on this n foundation. 2983). materials. "Beauty will save the world"60 was fundamental to the commitment to beauty made by artists and intellectuals alike. 6 2 ~ i s o v and Stemin 6."~1 synthesis. there was a belief in the intercomectedness of all the arts. and themes found in artifacts of the Russian national heritage. and
because Roerich's work is often categorized by his brief association with Stasov. To this end.
. Because he was such a prominent and outspoken figure in the world of Russian art for over half of the nineteenth century. The Russian style of the 1850s to 1870s gradually gave way to the neoRussian style. The new style rejected verisimilitude and rationalism.63 Too many
scholars have labeled Stasov on the basis of some of his public conflicts.
Added to this was the conviction that the arts had a life-transforming or theurgic mission. it
turned to "lyricai transf0rmation. the creating of new sacred stories to guide modem man. As explained above.
6@These words were spoken by Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky's The Idiot. and creative
interpretation of the structural elements.
AU modes of discourse and all modes of knowing were explored. artists took on the role of rnifotoorchestoo (mythmaking).
both folk and
. Stasov was consumed by the struggle against
European dominance of the fine arts. The group included Modest Musorgsky.37
identifying him as a chauvinist nationalist. The Academy of Fine Arts had required
artists to work in the dassical style and limited subjects of paintings to scenes
of history. although in lesser halls. C6sar Cui. In the 1860s he had the opportunity to support. encourage. The institutions of Imperial Russia in the 1850s and 1860s were generally opposed to the intrusion of "the Russian. a populist. or mythology. The Imperial Opera was Italian. Although "The Mighty Handful" stood for the proposition that the native music of the Russian people. even though Glinkafs A Life for the Tsar and Ruslan and Lirldrnila had been performed in St.
Early in his career." viewing it as substandard. encouraging his followers to break with the German training and style that the new conservatories in St. not Russian. Petersburg (1862) and Moscow (1866) represented. the Bible. Balakirev fought to promote the Russian school of music. or an unscientific promoter of the theory of Asian origins of Russian culture. Alexander Borodin. It is important to
free our understanding of the role he played at the turn of the century from
labels that obscure rather than clarify. Circumstances gave Stasov an "army" to fight for Russian music and Russian musical education. Glinka's sad experience over the lukewarm reception of Ruslan and Liudmila in 1842 greatly angered Stasov and perhaps fueled his activities in the world of music for the rest of his career. and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. and guide a group of self-educated musicians-"The Handful" (Moguchaia kuchka) as he later called them-all Mighty
followers of Mili
For example.A. asserting the oriental origins of Russian
The growing opposition to European domination of Russian culture
and the turn toward realism i art made the investigation of the origins of n
Russian culture all the more attractive. was a worthy basis for an intellectual art music:'
they were not
conservative nationalists. Musorgsky was the most
innovative of the five. Shifnner in 1857. and dissonance in his effort to focus on content over form. Mifologicheskiin shkola o russkoi fol'kloristike. in his opera Boris Godunoo (1870) he evoked Medieval Russia largely through thematic material of his own invention.N. Balandin. Tibetan. harmonies-a new style. see A. "The Origin of Russian Byliny"
(Proiskhozhdenie rzisskikh bylin). although he quoted some folk song and Russian religious music. A. Their music was largely eclectic.
.religious. combining both Russian and European elements. 111. rhythms. Buslam (Moscow: Nauka. %eonard 108. that all Russian folksongs were of Greek origin to the more scientific works of A. I.67 In
1868 Stasov wrote a long article. he used distinctive harmonic innovations. He abandoned Italian opera form for a new type of music drama that he felt represented the unvarnished life of the pe0ple. they were innovators. and Siberiad6 The popularization of German orientahst Teodor Benfey's theory that India was the source of all of these folklores resulted in a flurry of publications broadly applying it. F. I. 6 7 ~ h i theory was published in a long introduction to Benfey's German translation of s Pantschantantra from Sanskrit in 1859. 6 6 ~ o a discussion of the development of this theory from the "improbable" statements of N. looking for new forms. Balandin. I the 1850s Russian folklorists were n already promoting the theory that their own folklore was borrowed from other folklores including Greek. a variety of
scales. Pypin and A.92. 1988) 109-2 11. r L'vov in his introduction to Jan Prach's 1790 Sobranie narodnykh russkikh pesen s ikh yolosami.
across southern Russian lands from the Caucasus to the Crimea and Ukraine
and on to the Danube. ornaments.39
epic folklore and culture.
melodies and harmonies. he was criticized for depriving the Russian folk epos of its national origins and for disparaging national ~ u l t u r e . 651-699.~ g question of the truth of Stasov's theory.
. or the view that Russia had no culture prior to Peter 1's contacts
with western Europe.
Archeological evidence of Scythian settlements in southern Russia began to disprove the canon. clothing. furnishings. i 69~alandin 126-127. "Prois khorhdenie russ k kh bylin" Vesleshik Eoropy 3 (1868) 225-277. buildings. and later with Greeks and
hi Scandinavians as they conducted t e r commerce on Russian lands.68 He wrote about the indisputable continuity of Russian and European culture from Asia that manifested itself in everything
including language. while interesting. was
much more attractive to many than the canonized views of Slavic historycultura.Uy unformed groups of Slavs welcoming the culture of the Greeks wholesale.
Russians had been fascinated with the Scythian
civilization at least since the early nineteenth century when French and German archeologists began to excavate burial mounds in southern Russia. oral epos (byliny). These excavations provided most of the Scythian artifacts that were on
6 8 ~Stasov. from the seventh century to the third century BC. customs. The Scythians were Indo-Iranian nomadic warriors who. The possibility of an indigenous culture made strong by its long interaction with various nomadic tribes from Asia. . and fairy tales. is The less important than the impact of this theory on Stasovfs contemporaries. This article put Stasov in opposition to nationalists.
1956) . 46. scholars began to argue against the commonly held view of Greek dominance in southern Russian culture. New York: Russell. I the last two n decades of the nineteenth century. He railed
7 0 ~ o r early twentieth-century view of archeology in southern Russia see M."7* Stasov's
theory has proved to be more and more substantive. 2969) 6. Stasoo i russluzia peredooaia obshchestoennuin mysl' (Leningrad. V. quoted in Oikhovsky 144. Stasov's ideas fueled discussions of Russian identity as separate from western Europe and contributed to the growing idea of Russia's messianic role in mankind's future. an hnians and Greeks in South Russia (1918.V. 7 2 ~ I. Throughout the ~~ nineteenth century archeologists continued to discover rich evidence of Scythian presence across the southern lands of Russia. Suvorova. 71~ostovtreff 7. "Soviet ideologists and official historians This point of view is
[found] Stasov's theory on the oriental origin of Russian culture particularly offensive. For many scholars the end of Stasov's career is defined by his
f vehement opposition to the activities of the World o Art group.
. P e t e r s b ~ g . They daimed this was a 'pseudoscientific' theory. Later archeological investigation has given credence to the idea that early Slavic culture was a blend of those cultures that interacted through commerce and invasion in the lands now known as southern Russia. 1922. Rostovtzetf.40
display in t!e Hermitage museum in St. Soviet scholarship was responsible for the general dismissal of Stasov's theory. Stasov was among those who attempted to promote the view that there was a rich native culture worthy of study in its own right? also prominent in Roerich's writings. The commonly held view of Scythians as barbaric nomadic invaders was challenged by evidence that they settled and practiced agriculture in some cases.
The entire decadence of our decadents consists of decadent conversations about the European decadents. quoted in Olkhovsky. 111: 215-26. In 1904 he corresponded briefly with Scriabin to express his positive response to his Third Symphony (The Divine Poem). .
European as well as Russian. What tasks! What plans! What strength and smoothness! There is so much passion and poetry in the second movement!
7 3 ~ Stasov." Dbr. be it the Academy of Fine Arts or the St. outrageous. "Vystavki. miserable imitation . Petersburg Conservatory. although he did recant many of his words in private letters. .against the "utterly idiotic. Certainly he felt it necessary to continue the battle
against blind imitation of the foreign in art. often conservative opinions made it easy to stereotype
him in later scholarship. he viewed it as a weakness to apologize in print. . 133. . . long after such a position was warranted.
In fact he was an avid listener of all kinds of music. anti-artistic. He held Diaghilev responsible for the artistsf blind
imitation of European decadents:
In regard to Russian decadents . and repulsive" works at a
World of Art exhibit. but this does not mean that he was chauvinistic. including the music of Scriabin.
. When the latter would finally fall silent and vanish our poor monkeys would immediately put their tails between their legs and would shut up forever?
Stasov maintained his goal-to achieve independence for Russian arts
from domination by foreign arts-throughout
his career. soch. Through a quirk of his personality.
maintained his opposition to the dogma of the academy. He admired Beethoven and Bach and found much to admire in the music of Richard Wagner. His letters reveal a
continuing interest in new art. His outspoken. Whatever they have is . . they have not accomplished anything which is decadent. .
It is the less tangible but no less important agenda of religious revival that is missing from most western surveys of Russian art from 1850 to 1917. among the Russians you already have great numbers of supporters and admirers. Russian sources. His published work on Russian folk ornament influenced artists of the time and artists that followed. however. usually acknowledge this important component of the impulse to express Russian traditional culture in the arts. Roerich sought out Stasov's expertise in these fields. oral epos. he was not searching for a mentor in chauvinistic nationalism. There seems to be a reluctance in western scholarship to address the moral and religious motivation for much of the art produced in the neo-Russian style. strong. even throughout the Soviet period. We must remember that Stasov's contributions to Russian culture were far broader than his polemic against the imitation of European art. and studies of ornamentation and medieval letter design.74
This is neither program music nor music that expresses national themes. For example. powerful. His life-long career was in archeology. sometimes tender and charming. His theory on the Asian origins of Russian culture fed a growing interest in archeology. nor did
he find one. early architecture. an exploration that Stasov finds most interesting.And the orchestration-it's marvelous. a field which also included ethnography. Scriabin has already begun to explore mysticism. in their discussions of
. both those who were dose imitators of folk design and those who abstracted the forms in their more modernist works. and sometimes brilliant! Yes.
both Taruskin and the art historian John Bowlt include a photograph of Roerich at work on his fresco i the interior of Tenisheva's n
church at Talashkino. "A Kindling Fever: A Study of Some Religious. but neither gives its title.. 1979) 46. and Schoenberg. Rutgen U.7~ Joan Acocella also writes from a European focus. Warren Bourne discusses "decadent religiosity" or the fascination with primitive and alternative religious experiences as part of the extra-musical ideas that influenced Debussy.Stravinsky 872. Stravinsky. or
makes any comment about its religious symbolism. 77~oanAcocella. John Bowlt.
and the concept that art is the product of a different kind of knowledge.Roerich's involvement with the kzlstar' workshops and art colony at Talashkino. Stravinsky and S~hoenberg. The Silver Age: Russian Art of the Early Twentieth Century and the "World of Art" Group (Newtonville: Oriental Research Partners. and Literary Themes in Music between 1890 and 1920 with Special Reference to Debussy.
75~aruskin." diss. 1909-1914. 1969.
Two studies of Stravinsky's music. I We cannot understand what Stravinsky and Roerich were intending to do with their ballet Velikaia zkrtva until we examine the intellectual context i n
which it was created. but she brings into her discussion major trends of symbolist art that include the transfer to art of religious yearnings (mystery. while Limited by their reliance on translated sources. other than describing it as "neo-Rus~ian. mysticism). nevertheless point to Stravinsky's debt to symbolism and to the presence of religious impulses in his music. Socio-Ethical."~5 will discuss the significance of this omission in Chapter II. The Queen of Heaven. 76~arren Bourne..77
These works touch on topics that this study will explore in greater detail and within the Russian context. "The Reception of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes by Artists and Intellectuals in Paris and London. 1984." diss. U of Auckland.
of terror. that the life-transforming task of art would have been familiar to readers of the journal and participants in the society's activities.'' Handbook o Russian Literature. "Their mission was neither to explore the world nor to transfigure it. "The Rite Revisited. 1985) 284. but in the f n l analysis it overlooks the active efforts to
7 8 ~ a mkin.
As a example of western scholarship. Taruskin's work is thorough. he referred to his new work more than once as a 'mysterium(!)' He dubbed the new kind of ballet he was pioneering a 'choreodrama which is bound to replace the type of our contemporary ballets. n
well researched. and however much Stravinsky may later have denied it. Stravinsky 437." 185-186. Taruskin has drawn a line separating religious revival from what he sees as the "art for art's sake" aesthetic of the Wwld of Art. "Russian Modernism. In interviews he gave the St. his goal was frankly 'Scriabinis tic'-the communication of ecstasy. based on Stravinsky's own comments:
The Rite of Spring.Taruskin also acknowledges the presence of religious ideas in The Rite
of Spring. and more steeped in the Russian traditions than most works
ia that have preceded it.
. would not tell a story of a pagan ritual. Russkii balehryi s t e a k 2 vols.'78
Yet. Victor Terras (New f Haven: Yale UP. 1971-2) 2: 232. Taruskin quotes from Krasovska ia. but to adorn it-"79 This misrepresents the
h purpose of t e journal. Petersburg press during a brief visit to his native city in the fall of 1912. then. it would be that ritual. Bowlt notes that. and by extension Diaghilev's and Stravinsky's aesthetic.80 It is dear.' indebted as they were to the impure principles of 'music drama. it was a vehicle
for the propagation of Russian symbolist philosophy. s 80~ohn Bowlt. 7 9 ~ a r ukin. e d . I will discuss the World of Art aesthetic in more detail in Chapter III. among other things. then. (Leningrad: Iskusstvo. One can detect here a prime tenet of early modernism with its insistence that genres and media not be mixed. But it was no less a derivation from the theurgic aims of Russian symbolism.
Tolkooyi slooar' zhiwgo velikorusskogo iazykx (1882.revive spiritual life in tun-of-the-century Russian culture.
air. For it already answered the as yet only half-articulate call of its time for the "great sacrifice" of kul'tura [German symphonic tradition] on the altar of stikhiya.
. Moscow: Cosudarstvennoe . subhuman destruction of refined tradition:
In a far more fundamental and insidious way than [high dissonance and crashing orchestration]. 1955).
conclusions about The Rite of Spring.
8 2 ~ Dal'. a barbaric. Sometimes this force was associated with the image of Scythian or Asian hordes plundering the lives
and property of the peoples settled on the southern steppes. Hs expertise in formal analysis of Stravinsky's developing style i leads him to a metaphor that aptly describes the revolutionary effect of this work. coming either from catastrophic natural disasters or from anarchic uprisings of the people. stikhiia had h
connotations of the apocalypse. He allows the revolutionary effect of The Rite of
Spring on twentieth-century music to influence his analysis of the ballet's
concept. In addition to the forces of nature. generally referring to the elements of nature-earth.
water. and fire. Stravinsky's ballet merited the Scythian label. primitivistic. izdatel'stvo inostrannykh i natsionalfnykh slovarei.82 took on broader metaphorical meaning in the writings of
t e Russian symbolists. but which fails to describe Stravinsky's conceptual intent and to account for the fact that Stravinsky shared Roerich's vision Taruskin concludes that the ballet is Scythian. as exciting and right on the mark as they may seem to someone unfamiliar with the Russian context.81
The word stikhiia. Straainsky 951. Alexander Blok
81~aruskin. nevertheless depend on hasty and sometimes dearly erroneous interpretations of Russian ideas.
For the symbolists.
. maintained through religious rikal and celebrated in the rich ornamentation he applied to everyday objects. "Zakliatoe zver'e. 850. Taruskin defines stikhiia as "primitive immediacy" and "elemental ~ p o n t a n e i t y . ever contending with the requirements of European kul'fura.
(Srnolensk: Izdatel'stvo Posokh."83 Roerich believed that the restoration of this ancient harmony could be a curative for the ills of modem civilization. Sbornik dokurnentoo. His condusion.uses this term in his essay "Sfikhiia i knl'tura" where he sees both natural disasters and revolutionary impulses as signs that modem civilization has made itself vulnerable thxough its materialism and the fragmentation of man's once harmonic life. ~~
especially to the idiom of their music. does not
address the concept of the bailet that Stravinsky and Roerich envisioned. however. He did not see ancient man as a primitive barbarian. "alluding to the age-old traditions of the Russian people." Tulashkino. Rerikh. Roerich's use of the word stikhiiu carries a slightly different connotation.Shaoinsky 1746. I will discuss Roerich's ideas in greater detail in Chapter II. He idealized primitive man's harmonious relationship with the powerful forces of nature. sf ikhiia carried connotations of Chaos and the irrational. This life
is not an idyll. 1995) 399. Larisa Zhuravleva ~ . It convinced many Western musicians that Russian drobnost ' [the quality of being a
8 3 ~ . It is
rather a description of the revolutionary effect of Stravinsky's new style: Stravinsky set free a stikhiya that had always been latent in Russian art music. ed. So magruficently realized was The Rite that it turned the tables on the historical struggle. but one o balance where the symbols of ritual and ornament f
testify to the "forever-frightened life of man. but rather
as the possessor of a way of life that could be a viable solution to modem
there is the problem of chronology. . It had f l e to Stravinsky to redeem aln with interest the debt Rubinstein had incurred to the West on Russia's behalf when.
. Russian as no music before it had ever been. . Roerich and Stravinsky began their collaboration in 1910. the evidence of elaborate. elements of Russian culture were not new. it Russianized the musical universe-and thus transcended the Russian. This view is misleading on
several counts. completing the outline of the entire ballet
in the summer of 1911. Themes of Pan-Mongolism and the Asian. Taruskin seems to suggest that Stravinsky and Roerich were clairvoyant: the ballet answers "the as yet only half-articulate call of its time for the 'great sacrifice' of kul'turu on the altar of stikhiyu. highly ritualized burial practices.85
The Scythian metaphor convincingly describes post-Rite-ofspring music
history. half a century before. he summoned a German staff to man his country's first conservatory. and Herodotus' fifth century BC eye-witness descriptions of the Scythian civilization a l l fed the romantic imagination of
85~aruskin.Stravinsky 965. they had appeared in the nineteenth century as elements of Slavophilism.
The abundance of
exquisitely-crafted Scythian artifacts. First. . hence
barbarian. However.sum of parts as opposed to developed form] was a viable alternative. Taruskin's enthusiasm leads him to misrepresent key
elements of the ballet and thereby to distort Roerich's and Stravinsky's original concept. Now kul'tura would be on the defensive. not merely an anarchic or incompetent deviation." Taruskin's
assertion that The Rite of Spring is Scythian Leads him to attempt to demonstrate that it reflects ideas held by the group of revolutionary artists
and thinkers who called themselves Scythians. made the Russian universalwhich is to say. The Rite.
and did not flower until well into t e Revolution. known widely as kurgnns. Yet. and the primordial harmony of their lives in contrast to the civiIization that later developed in Europe-8h The image of the ancient Scythians had become a powerful inspiration to artists and writers by the 1917 Revolution. He interprets Roerich's 1898 essay "At a Burial Mound"
(Na kurgane) as open admiration of the Scythians. contemporary references made to
this sacred hill commonly refer to Roerich's beloved northern landscape.
This assumption leads him to the
condusion that the sacred hill depicted in Roerich's scenic design for The Rite o Spring is a Scythian kurgan.48
Russian writers and thinkers and gave evidence to those who nurtured the theory of Russian culture's oriental origins. valuing their predecessors' fierce independence. but it was not Scythianism as such that motivated The Rite o Spring. barbarism.87 f However. he seems to understand
the word kurgnn in Roerich's title as a specific reference to Scythian burial mounds. The twentieth-century Scythians made a metaphorical h connection between the ancient Scythians and themselves. f Taruskin's assertion that The Rite of Spring is Scythian calls up images of the subhuman and barbaric that are not congruent with Roerich's images. as I will demonsbate in Chapter II. but he neglects to investigate thoroughly what he believes to be Roerich's fascination with the ancient Scythians.
. Taruskin views Roerich's writings and art through the lens of Scythianism. the movement that can be called Scythianism did not develop until well into the First World War. while several examples of musical compositions and poetry referring to the ancient Scythians were written before 1916.
Petersburg Province in the nineteenth century. The title translates "At a Burial Mound in the Vodskaia Region of the St. Millicent Hodson reconstructed the choreography. 1991) 15-32. for See also Krasovskaia 1: 439. WNET. Petersburg Province. V Vodskoi Piatine (SPb. based on
careful analysis of primary
88~ee. New York and Danrnarks Radio.88 Roerich's essay is
actually a lyrical description of his work excavating burial mounds in the St. 2989." Roerich specifically states that he
is describing the graves of Novgorod Slavs. as the subtitle of the essay indicates. It leads to the misunderstanding of
Roerich's work in particular and the necessary but false conclusion that
and Roerich did not share a common purpose in this project. The Vodskaia Region included the lands between the Volkhov and Luga rivers. Alexandre Benois. becoming part of the St. a detail important to him because it verifies the existence of artifacts entirely
among the Slavs that did not derive
horn contacts with the Scandinavians. 89~ikolai Rerikh.
n Petersburg region.gl
and enables us to experience the ballet almost as it was first
This reconstruction. Kenneth Archer researched the costumes and stage design. example.
. go~erikh.89 I this essay kurgan
has the generic meaning of "burial mound. Reminiscences of the Russian BaNet 347.). gub. "Na kurgane." This area was once part of the Novgorod Lands.
The Joffrey Ballet's 1987 performance of the restored first production of
Le Sucre du Printemps effectively strips away layers of subsequent
interpretations presented .90 This essay is an early
example of Roerich's promotion of the beauty of ancient human culture. B See "The Search for Nijinskyfs Rite of Springl" produced by Judy Kinburg and Thomas Grim. 91This performance was recorded and presented as part of the P S Great Performunces series. Taruskin's
choice of Scythianism as the motivating concept for
Stravinsky's and Roerich's work on The Rite of Spring effectively dismisses
the very important and serious role that the revival of religion was playing in
turn-of-the-centuryRussian culture." Glaz dobyi (Moscow: Khudozhestvemaia Literatura. "Na kurgane" 31.49
which was not part of the ancient Scythian domain.
a giant radar dish that sucks in and radiates out the forces of the universe. What was once perceived as Nijinsky's "crime against grace" is revealed in this ballet as "a denial of the authority invested in modern civilization. dispassionate. All is controlledpreordained. The community must repeat the ritual. "'Sacre' ballet reconstructed.sources . a different notion of the power relationships between
92~ee Millicent Hodson." 7% N m York Times. NGimky's Crime Against Grace.92 corrects many misconceptions about the ballet that have accumulated over time and brings out some features of the performance that lie hidden in analyses of just one aspect of the ballet. "Roerich's 'Sacre' Shines in the loffrey's Light. eye-witness drawings and accounts in memoirs. Nothing is haphazard in this scenario. Roerich's scenario is about the marriage of earth and sky. Turning
inward suggested a different set of social and
This balance is supported by Nijinsky's choreography which looks primitive not because of its heaviness. 93~arcia Siegel. and photographs that were used in the reconstruction. Perhaps the most
striking impression results from the intensified effect of the combined arts
that underscores the ritualistic nature of the ballet and the absolute balance between earth and sky. 12 November 1987:
26. 1996) for a description of the score. . . the stage is like some great cosmic machine-a cyclotron. 94~nna Kisselgoff. In Roerich's version every action has its ritual meaning as a distillation of communal customs. step for inexorable step-explosive. . . Reconstruction Score of the Origmal Choreographyfor Le Sacre du Printemps (Stuyvesant. . NY: Pendragon P. 22 November 1987: HlO. human community and the cosmos: From the first glimpse of the gorgeous scenic design and costumes . notes by Stravinsky and Nijinsky's assistant Marie Rambert." Christian Scimce Monitor. but because of the dancers' postures and patterns of movement. Nothing in the ballet is naturalistic. designs and actual costumes..
. . umfyhg and crue1.
. . 26. .93
" Quoted in Hodson. Nijimky's C h e 200. dance critic Anna Kisselgoff notes that "'Sacre' is a stamping dance." La Nouoelle R m e Franccise.^^ many of which exaggerated Nijinsky's earth-bound innovations. See [gor Stravinsky. "'if one can. diss. and the old ones. 96~arisian critic Jacques Riviere's 1 November 1913 essay. 97~isselgoffH 0 1. quoted in Hodson. and Nijinsky. in Truman Bullard "The First Performance of Igor Stravinsky's 'Sacre d u Printemps. stop confusing grace with rtc syrnmetcy and the arabesque." Ballet Rezliew 20.51
man and the universe. and before she fully collapses
the elders lift her body as an offering to the sky. Nijinsky's hand-picked Chosen One. but it may not be the weighted dance we have been led to believe. for once. the restored choreography has an unexpected lightness. As the Chosen Maiden dances herself to death she leaps and extends her arms. 1913.
." although he later denied authorship of this article. "Le Sacre du Printemps. paradoxical
to modem man. demonstrating how
the choreographer's art mirrored the concept developed by the other two. As one c i i asserted in 1913. remembers that the maiden's body does not touch the ground. 99~ronislava Nijins ka. Nijinsky's Crime. U of Rochester. 1971. creeping around her Like greedy monsters so that she will not touch the earth as she falls. they lift her high in the air and offer her to the sky. xix. She
95~illicent Hodson. who are guarding the sacrifice. Even after she f d s to
the earth her body continues to resist gravity. trying to reach the sky."' 3 vols. a high wave of the arms. xi..2: 9."96
Heaviness does not dominate this reconstruction. Stravinsky. "Ce que j'ai voulu exprimer dans Le Sacre d u Printemps. Stravinsky offered a similar account: "When she is at the point of falling in exhaustion the ancestors see this and. 98~ynn Garafola and Joan Acocella." Mantjoie! Organe de l'lmpi~lismeArtktique Francais.99
In her extensive notes about the reconstruction.. Nijinsky's Crime. "Rites of Spring: Catalogue Raisonnl."95 The idea of creation through sacrifice. catch the unbreathing body in their arms so as not to let it touch the ground."97 Shipped of t e layers of over h one hundred subsequent choreographic interpretation^. 29 May. "The last jump. Hodson reinforces the
dose collaboration of Roerich.' it can be found everywhere in Le
Snc~e. was an integral part ancient man's view of the cosmos.2 (1992): 71-92.
iloer (London:Macmillan. quoted in Hodson.o Nijinsky 's Crime 116. In
this reconstruction. the sacrifice does not exhibit the savagery and brutality that have come to be associated with The Rite of Spring in the more than eighty years since its premii?re. Stmuinsky 864. "the solo as [Nijinsky]constructed it is heroic. For
example. done for the benefit of
the human community to maintain the balance between earth and sky. this reconstruction brings Roerich's concept-seen
decor and costume design as well as the scenario-into
the spotlight. . ritualistic aspect of the dance that she feels is characteristic of Stravinskyfs music. and in the grouping and regrouping of the dancers. .loO While the idea of a maiden's sacrificial dance has been attributed to Stravinsky as someone "steeped in the traditions and
dich6s of the romantic musical theaterfWl0' Roerich may be most responsible
for its presentation as a willful though frightening act. lo2~arie Rarnbert. 1912. Quick. . The Chosen One-isolated from the community by an act of destiny.
. to Igor Stravinsky. Hodson also emphasizes the archetypal. lol~aruskin.
Finally. ."'~2Hodson reinforces this impression. 40. Nijinsky's Crime xi. dated 18 December.52
emphasizes the ballet's basic polarity. his assistant Marie Rambert recailed his "ecstatic performance. not by
the community itselfdances the solo as a demonstration of courage. in the colors of the costumes. s rdgisseur of the Ballets Russes.The source cited is a letter from Sergei Grigoriev. Observing Nijinskv's demonstration of the Chosen One's solo. as Hodson worked she noticed that the ground patterns of the choreography echo the lines painted on the costumes. not pathetic. evidenced in the tensions between the earth and sky. 1972) 64. 1 0 3 ~ o d s o nNijinskyrs Crime xi. the greatest tragic dance I ever ~aw."'u3
O O ~ o d n. it is known that Nijinsky had waited u t l he had the costume designs before he began his ni portion of the work.
will contribute a better understanding of The Rife o Spring as it was f
conceived and developed from its beginnings as The Exalted Sacri!ce. The analysis of Nikolai Roerich's work which follows
in Chapter 1 does not contradict Hodson's and Archer's restoration.
Hodson's and Archer's work corroborates the presence of images and ideas that support the view of this ballet as an attempt to solve modem man's
crisis through ritual.
Because his work was a synthesis of knowledge gained from all of these disciplines. Roerich is still well known
in Russia. undated letter from the beginning of 1913. he was deeply interested in more
than a few specialized disciplines. 2 vols. and religious philosophy. (Moscow: Izobrazitel'noe iskusstvo. Sergei Dingilm i rwskoe iskusstuo. 1982) 2: 120. 2 ~ o e r i c h Diaghilev. 1995) 52. Reprinted in Zil'bershtein to and Samkov. One must keep in mind that he valued the 'beautiful cosmogony of Earth and Sky"2 experienced in ancient civilizations. n
l~leksandr Rostislavov writes that familiarity with Roerich's scientific and literary works reveals the bmad horizons of his art. and the statement "the future resides in the past" can be seen as a sacred motto rather than as a paradox. These disciplines were archeology. arts education. K.
. and he worked to restore this wholeness to a modern world i crisis. history. R&kh (1918. However these achievements are filled with content that is unnoticed by those who dismiss some of the facets of Roerich's interest or the overall synthetic nature of his work. Kaliningrad: Knizhnoe izdatel'stvo. painting. it is a mistake to attempt to subordinate any of Roerich's interests to the one or two deemed the most important His contributions to Russian culture are deepened by his multi-faceted approach. however his portrayal in the West has usually been one or two
dimensional at best.Chapter [ I
"The Fuhue Resides in the Past/"' Nikolai Roerich's Concept of The Exalted Sacrifice
Nikolai Roerich (1874-1947) was in one important way typical of the leading cultural figures of his generation. Rostislavov. and he worked throughout his life to
integrate them into his own unified philosophy. N. A. A. religion. architecture. law. ethnography. stage design.
U of Washington.N. Petersburg. Roerich was born and raised in St. Petersburg during 1898-1900. "Nicholas Roerich. 1988. 1989). Before he entered the
university. Nicholas Roerich: The L$e and Art o a Russian Master. I will look at what Roerich inherited from his contemporaries
and demonstrate his participation in religious revival. K. Izvara. Rerikh 16.
.' His work was serious and scholarly. He simultaneously attended the Law Faculty of S t Petersburg University and the Academy of
3~ee Jacqueline Decter." Thesis. I will discuss his use of the past and his ultimate purpose in articulating this position. 4~ostislavov. and by placing that art in modem man's daily life. A study of his Life and Work 1874-1918. he read a series of lectures at the Archeological Institute of St. wl be helpful to the il reader.
This chapter will outline Roerich's career. In particular I will address
the charge that he is nationalist. continuing this work periodically throughout his years in Russia.55
Roerich's contemporaries and later Soviet scholarship have always recognized his broad background and the fact that his activities were part of a Larger goal. and also Brooke Daly. (Rochester: f Inner Traditions. he had worked with archeologists in the north of Russia. especially as exemplified in Velikaia zhertva. although he spent much of his time outside the city on the family estate. namely the search for spiritual enlightenment and healing by refmrning art to its ancient sacred fimction. his thirty-ninth year. Roerich had his own definition of
neonationalism that was quite similar to the messianic nationalism discussed
in Chapter I. While there are numerous works about Roerich including several excellent biographies available in English? a summary of his activities and accomplishments through 1913. Petersburg in the Tsarskoe Selo District. located to the
south of St.
graduation painting "The Messenger. the head of the art department at the St.
In 1895 Roerich became
acquainted with Vladimir Stasov. He graduated from the law faculty in 1898.56
Fine Arts in St. he was a member of the n
Society of Russian Architects. I addition. St. R&kh (Moscow: Molodaia gvardia. From 1902 to 1913 his paintings were part of fourteen World o Art (Mir iskusstoa) exhibitions i f n Moscow.5 While at the University
he attended as many history lectures as he could manage. Clan has risen against Clan" (Gonets. archeologist. Belikov and V.
and in 1903 he made a kind of pilgrimage to the ancient cities of Russia. 1991) 291 -295. Petersburg Public Library and an outspoken art historian. %rina Kharitonova.
I 1900 Roerich traveled to Europe to study painting. The World of Art Mooownt in Ear% 20th Centzcy Rush (Leningrad: Aurora Art P. 1972) 38. and Kiev. spending time in n
Paris. Venice. graduating from both. and critic. P. Kniazeva.
Roerich's paintings were widely exhibited.
Vosstal rod na rod) won the highest prize at the student competition and was
purchased by the Tretiakov Gallery in 1897.
. Stasov was very supportive of Roerich's work. He had akeady traveled to the south of Russia. Petersburg. Petersburg.6 His paintings were also included in the
Salon d'Automne exhibit in Paris in 1906 and in another Paris exhibit
5 ~ i examination composition for the law faculty was titled "The Legal Status of Artists in s Ancient Rus" (Prmovoe polozhenie khudozhnikuv drevnei Rusi). and Holland. ed. they had many ideas in common about the importance of history and the role of the Near East and Asia in Russian culture.
recording the architecture of ancient churches in his paintings and sketchesHe continued to lecture at the Archeological Institute on the necessity of preserving this valuable heritage.
9~elikov and Kniazeva 90. Berlin. was angry that Diaghilev had not shown Roerich's paintings as prominently as she would have liked at the 1906 Paris exhibit. Stmuinsky 851. an early. featured in the Russian journals Mir iskz~sstna.
In these years Roerich showed his commitment to art education. and Vesy.7 Between 1906 and 1914 Roerich's paintings were frequently shown in exhibits of Russian art abroad? His works were seen in Paris. an appointment delayed because of Academy politics. Tenisheva's efforts were a part of the kustnr' movement in Russia. near Smolensk. and set designs for the second act of Borodin's Prince Igor. 1995) 266-68. as Taruskin argues. Makovsky. that Roerich was "catapulted by Diaghilev to t international fame" in 1909 because of his curtain. Venice. In 1909 the Russian Academy of Fine Arts named
him an Academician. She organized her own exhibit to give Roerich the attention she felt he deserved.organized by Princess Mariia Tenisheva in 1907. the Luxembourg Museum in Paris and other European museums purchased his paintings. Talashkino. a response to encroaching industrialization and an attempt to return dignity to hand work and beauty to
'~enisheva. and Rostislavov. accompanied by articles written by art critics and literati including Voloshin. costume." they by no means introduced Roerich's art to Europe. Petersburg. generous patroness of Mir iskusstua." Tamskin. For Tenisheva's and Roerich's correspondence on this topic see Larisa Zhuravleva. While the designs may have "created a furor. Gidoni. The National Museum of Rome. In
1901 he began to work for the Society for the Preservation of the Arts in St.
He became a member of the Reims Academy in France as weU. He undertook a reform of the curriculum. Sbornik dokunrentov (Smolensk: Izdatel'shro Posokh. Vienna.9 His works were Zolotoe runo. Rome. and in 1906 he was appointed director of the Society's school.
. 8 ~ is therefore not the case. rescuing the school from its
reputation as mediocre. "The Polovtsian dances. and London. Zo~elikov and Kniazeva 90. Brussels. Tulashkino.Io Roerich also had a long association with Tenisheva and her workshops and school at her estate.
191 7. Roerich followed the scholarly work of Russian orientalists from early
in his career. Petersburg. By 1905 eastern themes began to appear in Roerich's works. Perhaps his most important project at Talashkino was the design and execution of the decorations in Tenisheva's private church. the Temple of the Holy Spirit.58
everyday objects. and in Zhuravleva 255-290. 1989. he also worked to send students from his school at the Society for the Preservation of the Arts to India to study. sometimes for extended periods of time." Roerich visited Talashkino.
He read Indian classical Literature: the Bagoadghita. early
Upanishads. peasants were trained in applied folk arts. f mul diss." was published in Vesy along
with his illustrations. He studied the t e a h g s of Ramakrishna and his pupil Swami Vivekananda.
In 1906 he published the essay "The Indian Way"
(Indiisky pzc f ') in which he celebrated the ancient civilization that produced
the artifacts he had recently seen in the collection of the Russian orientalist
l l ~ o r detailed discussion of the kustar' movement in Russia. His designs for furniture and other decorations incorporated applied motifs of folk design blended with his own particular vision of ancient ornament. The Ramakrishna
movement (Missiia Ramakrishna) was active in Russia from 1897. The a Modernization o Folk Art in Russia: The R i a of the Kustar Art industries. a parallel to the British Arts and Crafts movement a t the end of the nineteenth century. and artists were commissioned to produce works using the motifs of Russian folk art. Roerich worked to establish an Indian museum in St. from 1903 to 1915. "Devassari Abuntu.
his tale of a Buddhist girl.Sergei Mamontov's workshops at Abramtsevo are a better known part of this movement.
. U of Texas. see Wendy Salmond. Rerikh's activities at Talashkino are specifically discussed in DaIy 94-1 13. 7885 . Austin..
In these Russian
workshops. and Buddhist philosophical texts.
lskussbo i khudozhestoennaia promyshlennost' (Art and Artistic Industry). N. 1974) 25-26. ed. Subsequent volumes were never . Ibsen.. Iskusstvo (Art).15 He participated i the intellectual and creative cirdes of St. ed. He was drawn to plays that reflected his own interests: the primordial world.K. "Rerikh i teatr" in M. F.T. paganism. S t a y e gody (Bygone Years).K. Okhohik (The Hunter). Serov. Petersburg. 0 t c he t obshchestva pooshchrmiia khudozhesto (Chronicles of the Society for the Preservation of the Arts). N. 1 5 ~ K . 1978) 79-81. M.
He decorated musical as well as dramatic
productions including those by Ostrovsky. and the epic-heroic beginnings of civilization. Blok. Rerikh.. ed. K Rerikh. some for the pure joy of expressing his passionate response to the play. and Russkaia ikona (The Russian Icon). See also L.Pehograde (Leningrad: Lenizdat. the art historian and critic Stasov. archeology. n the artists Kuindzhi. and the symbolist press. Kuzmina (Moscow: Izobrazitel'noe iskusstvo. This book has been republished under the title of Glaz dobryi (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura.K. T . Rerikh: lz literaturnogo naslediia. V. Zapiski Russkogo arkheologicheskogo obshchestvn (Notes of the Russian Archeological Society). Kuz'mina. and Maeterlindc." N.
Wagner. M .'4
A volume of his collected essays was published in
1914. Gumilev. Lektsii o Arkheologicheskorn institute (Lectures from the Institute of Archeology). Rerikh. designing sets and costumes for both the Russian and European repertoire. and Syrkina. Rerikh. the Stone Age.k literaturnogo naslediia 528.13
Throughout these years Roerich published essays in a wide range of publications including journals about hunting and nature. "N. 1985) 144-146. He designed over f&y theatrical works. Korotkina. Vesy (The Scales). Zhizn i toorchtvo. Rerikh a Peterburge . 13~aly 119. 14~hese journals included Okhota i primda (Hunting and Nature). the world of fairy tales and legends. Rirnsky-Korsakov. the writers and poets Gorkii. 1991). 1914). Sbornik statei (Moscow: Izobrazitel'noe iskusstvo. the
12p.Golubev. Zolotoe runo (The Golden Fleece). Kniga pemaia (Moscow: Sytin. Belikov.
. published because the war intervened. Kuz'mina. Biograficheski ocherk. and Vrubelf. the middle ages. Borodin. the impressario Diaghilev.
Roerich became involved with Russian Theosophy during this
time as well-f Between 1907 and 1914 Roerich was actively connected with the theater.
K. In a . K.
peredvizhniki." Russkaia literatura 4 (1983): 173. purveyor of "exotic" Russian art to European audiences. Roerich's relationship with each of these figures. 1909) that proposes that Rerikh contribute articles on painting. He was also close to Belyl6 and acquainted with Briusov and Ivanov. Roerich's fascination with scenes from the Slavic
past and his use of authentic decorative detail lead easily to the label "nationalist.
To the western eye." Tenisheva.poet and philosopher Solov'ev. Eastern painting and ornament to the new journal they were planning. and the first school of Russian composers. any definition of Roerich solely through these particular relationships leads to a misrepresentation of this artist's work. "Pis'ma N. She also cites Bely's undated letter to D. organizer of the kustar' workshops at Talashkino and
collector of Russian folk arts. Roerich used the pseudonym "outsider" (izgoi)." Western
schclarship frequently lists some of Roerich's mentors and associates to lend support to this populist or nationalist view of his agenda as an artist: Stasov. This study will clarify Roerich's activities in relation to these figures by loolung a t Roerich's works themselves and at his scholarly and Literary writings.In some of his earliest writings. Briusovu. however. and the art critics Makovsky and Ernst ail visited Roerich's home. I believe that he considered himself an outsider throughout his life. prominent symbolists and fellow seekers of unified philosophies. "The Mighty
Handful. is only part of the picture. Ia.
the well-known supporter of the Russian realist school of painting. and Diaghilev. footnote Korotkina refers to a friendly letter Bely wrote to Rerikh that uses the informal form of address." too often with the connotation "chauvinist. he wished to act as a n individual rather than conform to the dogma of any
1 6 ~ Korotkina. Metner (ca. Rerikha V.
Russian thinkers were absorbed with several questions of social philosophy that were partly an outgrowth of industrialization."
He did not overtly identify himself with any
Many contemporaries sensed Roerich's uncom-
promising integrity. His essays and projects from the period when he was
working on Velikaia zhertva demonstrate that he was deeply involved in searching for the path to spiritual enlightenment and to mankind's salvation. In another essay written several months later he connects physical events on
earth to man's spiritual condition:
One simply must be spiritually blind." Blok makes his audience
see the failure of progress (kul'tura) to make any difference in the face of the powers of nature or social anarchy (stikhiia). Recent severe earthquakes in
Sicily and Calabria demonstrated the power of stikhiia and paralleled the
threatening volcano-like social uprisings that Blok considers inevitable. later published as "Stikhiia i kul'tura. An appreciation of Roerich's multi-faceted expertise and
his synthetic approach is essential in interpreting his responses to his rapidly
changing environment. In a
1908 lecture.particular school or "-ism. Alexander Blok was especially critical of the complacency of "civilized" men and their refusal to acknowledge the "ticking bomb" that progress had set in their midst. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. some admired this. others considered it the root of his
difficult personality. yet his works connect him to the current ideas of his day and reveal his eclecticism. uninterested in the life of the cosmos and insensitive to the daily tremors of chaos in order to suppose that the formations of the earth go on independently
. One of these questions placed civilization in opposition to the raw powers of nature. progress brought out feelings of loss and impotence in the face of historical and natural forces.
and in their own w a y . 1982) 4: 134. The Cry of the Serpent (Krik zmiia) 1913. The theme of the coming apocalypse. V. On December 28. Bely "Apokalipsis v russkoi poerii" (The Apocalypse in Russian Poetry 1905).1908 a massive earthquake devastated the city of Messina on the northeastern coast of Sicily and Reggio di Calabria on the mainland of Italy. he goes on t o describe the anarchic potential of the narodnaia stikhiia. 1908 and in other essays during the following year. Reprinted in Sobrnnie sochinenii. and Russian officers and sailors heroically came to the aid of the local population. Solov'ev "Panmongolisrn" (1894). A.
Blok's essay is not singular. lived dose to the earth and
accompanied by dreams of legends.000 people. lvanov "Drevnyi &as" (Ancient Terror 1909).
Washington. 1914: The Cosmos.I7
He calls this the revenge of stikhiia against kul'tura. The Cosmos. 6 vols. This theme is also found in Nijinskyfs two series of red and black watercolor
paintings f r o m c. the elemental power of the masses. killing more than 200.19 Most o f the
I'A. and The Doomed City (Grad obrechennyi) 1914. The Battle with the Serpent (Boi so z r n e m ) 1912. Images of the earthquake appeared in Blok's lecture delivered on December 30. one written b y a peasant and one written
by a m e m b e r of a religious sect.
. is found in numerous writings at that tirne.A Russian navy squadron had been stationed off the Sicilian shore. of
complete a n a r c h y o v e r t a k i n g civilization a s it w a s then known. "Gor'kii o Messine" Rech' 26 October 1909. Frye Art Museum. This earthquake made a lasting impression on Blok and others. Seattle.18 This theme is found in many of Roerich's
paintings o f the s a m e period: The Treasure
Angels ( S o k r o v i s h c h e
angelov) 1905. But he does not stop there. l8see. V. Blok. 1914. 19~aslavNijinsky. for example. In "Stikhiia i kul'tura"
he t o u c h e s on the idealized life of the peasant. e a c h painting a picture of unrest among the
R u s s i a n people and each s t a t i n g that the w o r d s o f revolutionaries had a special relevance t o the writersr o w n experiences. The Baftle (Boi) 1906. He quotes two letters. in no way influencing the f o r m a t i o n o f the h u m a n soul and human existence. (Leningrad: Khudozhestvemaia literatura. and The Faces of War. The S e ~ e n t ' sDaughter (Zmieona) 1906. c. and The Faces of War.
Taruskin manipulates the message of n Blok's essay by focusing on several paragraphs that present an idyllic view of the people that he finds very reminiscent of Roerich's paintings. Taruskin mistakenly calls this a description of "the 'elemental spontaneity' of the people. This discussion takes place in Taruskin. Taruskids erroneous linking of Blok's and
Roerich's views enables him to conclude that The Rile o Spring was Scythian f
in its concept. giving the impression that Blok
and Roerich share the same idyllic view of the people:
20~aruskin actually misreads the paragraph in which Blok compares kul'tura to the mindless society and activity of ants. In the previous chapter I discussed several ways that this
conclusion is misleading. He believed that contemporary
man could create a new reality if he returned to a life steeped in beauty and
the spirituality it represented. and in his novel Petersburg he symbolized it all with literally a ticking bomb. highly spiritualized life. instead. Roerich idealized age-old civilizations which served as models for this beautiful. Roerich's view of the people differs from Blok's. Blok recognized that n
this elemental force was still potent among the Russian people who Lived a
life centuries old. I addition. Stmvinsky 849-50 and ff. simple.
creative intelligentsia could not escape being overwhehed at times with the fear of an unknown force that would destroy contemporary civilization. the apocalypse was to be welcomed as the agent which
would allow for the creation of a new world i its wake. Roerich did not identify it with the anarchy of
the people's revolution. however.
. Bely found that force in the people." One wonders why Blok would then idealize such an ant-like existence. Acutely aware of
onrushing harmful change.20 He summarizes and then quotes Blok's message. i Russia's defeated n navy. he considered it the result of man's loss of
wholeness and the absence of spirituality and beauty in all aspects of his life.
Blok is not opposing civilization to the idyllic life of primitive man. .] Artists must renounce culture and become "elemental people" [stikhiinye liudi].
Z1~amskin. The earth is with them. incarnations of the Holy Mother." Sobranie sochinolii 4: 121. most prominently in his
1918 poem "The Twelve" and in other so-called Scythian writings. the whole earth will pass. will pass from the hills. It is this view of the anarchic power of the people and of revolution that reappears in Blok's writings.The urgent task of art was to renounce kul'tura and embrace stikhiya and thus transform itself into an amulet for restoring ol wholeness to the battered s u of contemporary man. however. Taruskin. Taruskin. t e woods along the slopes will pass. most powerful sentence of Blok's paragraph in w i h he sums up the hc
effects of the terrible power that he associates with these people of the earth: But everything in this plain is still asleep. 2 2 ~Blok. stops short of
the last. . they are with the earth. Shrminsky 850. . . Rather. the
This is indeed very dose to Roerich's view.
by drawing attention to this idyllic passage in Blok's essay. leads his reader to erroneously associate Blok's view of stikhiinye liudi with Roerich's view of primitive man. h everything as it exists will pass: the muzhiks will pass. "Muzhik" refers to a simple peasant. he strongly states that the anarchy
lurking in the lives of the simple folk is brewing a revenge against civilization and progress. and it seems at times that the Ml is alive and the tree is alive . . indivisible from the earth. and lakes will overflow their banks and rivers will reverse their flow. even as the muzhik himself is alive. an oversimplification that later permits Taruskin to invest the concept of the ballet with Scythian anarchy. who "see dreams and create legends. . and the churches. They are indistinguishable in its lap. it is not Bely's message. and when it moves. as Taruskin suggests. [This in itself is not entirely wrong. "Stikhiia i kul'tura. however.
What was Roerich's view of ancient man?
Rostislavov, suggested that Roerich's motto should be, "The Future Resides
in the Past-"23 Like many of his contemporaries Roerich Loved the past and
found in it lessons for modern civilization. particular lessons? But just what were these
They were not lessons of Russian nationalism,
chauvinistic in their evaluation of Russia's contributions to art and ideas. They were not lessons of Russian Scythianism, a celebration of the barbaric, elemental forces that brewed among the people. Nor were they a renunciation of civilization in favor of a savage life of oblivion, a model based on the view that man's development was a choice of one or the other. Roerich believed that at any stage of man's history he was capable of living life on a higher plane in unity with the spiritual realm. Ivanov also
expressed this view many times, for example in "A Corner-to-Corner Correspondence" (Perepiska i doukh uglov) he stressed the difference z between simply "going primitive" and seeking t e ancient wisdom of the h mystic, sacred unity.24 I will return to these views in Chapter III Roerich's lessons were closer to the view that Taruskin attributes to Blok, "The urgent task of art was to renounce kul'tura [westernized
civilization] and thus transform itself into an amulet for restoring wholeness to the battered soul of contemporary manrW25 although Roerich did not advocate the renunciation of Western civilization. To our eyes the word "amulet" looks trivial and naive; it was not, as I will demonstrate below.
23~ostislavov,N. R Rerikh 52. 24~iacheslav Ivanov and Mikhail Gershenzon. "A Corner-to-Comer Correspondence" Russian Intellectual History: An Anthology, e d . M . Raeff, trans. G. Vakar (1920; 1966; New Jersey: Humanities P, 1978) 397-398. 25~aruskin, Stravinsky 850.
Roerich expressed these ideas in an essay, "Joy i Art" (Rndosf' n isknsstvrr), published early in 1909. This essay carries the eamest message that art of the future must be purified; artists must recreate art's original sacred and ornamental function in the daily life of man.
In its soothing
ornament, ancient art expressed the harmony of man with his surroundings, and the ecstatic joy and harmony represented in that art can be reclaimed by modem man and used to heal his life. Speaking of the few stone age artifacts that archeologists had found to date, Roerich urges the drawing of this parallel: It is strange to think of the possibility that the behests of the stone kingdom stand dose to the strivings of our time. That which the turning point of history [the stone age] has shown us are those things that purely and spontaneously developed in the consciousness of the most ancient man. The earnest attempt to consider one's entire way of life, to thoughtfully and regularly shape all of its details, everything from the silhouettes of monumental sstructures to the smallest items for the hand, to bring everything to a strict harmony-these are the strivings of our art, strivings that are full of pain. They are reminiscent of the ancient one's loving concern to make from all of his surroundings something that was carefully considered, lavishly decorated and soothing to the accustomed hand? This is dearly the goal of Roerich's activities at Talashkino as well as of his entire Life in art. Roerich makes two important distinctions as he writes about the future of art. First, he uses words to describe the "audience" that imply quite a different relationship between the art object and the viewer than the one usually assumed, that is, the act of looking at a painting or work of art,
2 6 ~ K. Rerikh, "Radost' iskusstvu," Vestnik Emopy 1909 no. 2. Reprinted in Rerikh. Sobmnie . sochinenii, kniga p m i n (Moscow: Sytin, 1914). Citations are from the reprint Glaz dobryi (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1991) 89-124. 104-205.
analyzing it, and making an aesthetic judgement. Instead, Roerich refers to
preds toiashchie (those who stand before the art), suggesting a stance of
n veneration, as before a icon. To an Orthodox believer an icon is not art:
For Russian Orthodox believers, the icon serves as a life-giving ik source of grace. . . . The profound spiritual l n between the earthly and heavenly Church, and between the men living today and God and His holy men is manifested in the veneration of icons. . . . "He who venerates an icon venerates the Hypostasis depicted on it." Through icons we not only show our lo veneration to the Prototype, we a s pray, either individually or collectively, for intercession before God. Through icons the faithful receive grace, replenishing their spiritual strength, and also spiritual help and healing. Asserting the miracle-working power of every icon, the Church shows special reverence for icons that have performed rnira~Ies.2~
The visual image of an icon has expressive powers that transcend reason and
the power of mere words. Icons, like sacred objects made in any culture, are made according to strict ritual. There are striking parallels between Roerich's view of pagan sacred art and the Church's description of icon painting: The materials used in icon-painting have a profoundly h symbolic meaning: wood is the symbol of t e Tree of Life, Paradise, and the image of prayer by the plant kingdom; the priming, made of chalk and fish glue, is the symbol of the petrified sea of pure prayer offered up by Christian souls and by the Lord Himself, Whose symbol is the fish; it also symbolises "all that breathes" and praises the Lord; the paints themselves are of stone and clay, epitornising the earth and colour, mixed with egg, the symbol of Easter-all taken together symbofise the salvation of God's universe through prayer to God. The iconpainter is a tool of Divine Will which brings us into communion with the heavenly world through the beauty of the holy image. That is why icon-painting is a form of service to God accompanied by strict fasting and constant prayer. The
27~he Russian Orthodox Church, trans. Doris Bradbury (Moscow: Progress P, 1982) 212-213. Turn-of-the-century religious revival included a renewed interested in the collection and restoration of icons. The symbolism and power of the icon was an especially appealing example of non-rational cognition.
In this essay he also refers to the audience as polrzuiushchiesia (those who use the art objects). which is then collected and used to dilute the paints.28 Roerich views the art of the world's ancient civilizations as the same kind of carefully prepared incarnation of sacred truth. The primed board is also blessed and abundantly asperged with holy water. To adorn life so that artist and spectator. When an icon is being painted. Roerich hopes that with renewed interest in the art of the past people wiU again understand the exalted meaning of the word "to adorn.
underscoring his conviction that beauty must be returned to everyday life in the form of applied a t r. The entire essay traces how ancient peoples decorated their Lives. 2 9 ~ e rkh. are united in a creative ecstasy and. if only for a
r!9 moment.to adorn. they were surrounded by beauty. the water which runs off it is collected and priming is mixed on it." Decorativeness or ornament is the single path and basis of true
Thus once again the idea of the meaning of art has been purified . a l l the brethren in the monastery fast and pray. The second distinction Roerich makes is that the function of art is to adorn (ukmshat'). master and consumer. This is not merely the superficial decoration of everyday objects. all the while emphasizing the dose relationship of the ornament to the spiritual lives of the people. in fact Roerich would strongly object to such a thoughtless distortion of this function of art. "Radost'" 89. i
. rejoice in the purest joy of a t 2
T i idea is also found in Russian Orthodox tradition: hs
28~he Russian Orthodox Church 213.prepared board is asperged with holy water. Their life was an aesthetic unity.
31 Ancient decorations had an immediate purpose-to security for a life lived on the edge of the abyss. . it is aesthetically
and spiritually harmonious. while rejecting narrow nationalism. Roerich. 3 1 ~ ." Talashkino. . in a 1909 article "The Enchanted Beasts" (Zakliatoe zoer'e) Roerich describes the ornamentation
found in Tenisheva's collection of enameled objects. For example. The forms of bewitched wild animals were used as talismans to protect the hearth: The ornaments. like idols for someone .A striving toward the beautiful is a typical feature of Russian religious consciousness.
. realized that it is important for Russians to see the landmarks of their o w n artistic achievement on their own soil. . . . He notes the Russians' curious struggle to develop pride in their own achievements.30
Thus life is made beautiful in the temples of many religions. "Zakliatoe zver'e. Sbomik dokurnmtoo 399. particularly attract our attention. The meticulous elaboration of the ie outward aspects of religious l f was a result of the awareness of the transforming effect of the Divine energies which build the Church in the world. full of mysterious ideas. they have a history of longing for western approval before they can be comfortably confident of the value of provide protection and
30~he Russian Orthodox Church 212. The sacred function of ornament underlies many of Roerich's descriptions of ancient implements. In them are fixed forms that are necessary for someone. The offering of @s to the Church and the decoration of the church as the house of God was always inherent in Russian Orthodoxy. ~ . Rerikh. and many symbols preserve the forever-frightened life of man. one which has been vividly expressed in Russian ecclesiastical art.
Man is in a state of communion with the
spiritual world when his life is so adorned.
their own. where French specialists put them on a level with the best classical artifacts of Egypt. Dostoevsky. in the 1910 essay. lzbrannye stmnitsy. were saying the same things. even cultured people. "Ikony. ~ . Pushkin depicted this struggle more than a century earlier in his poem Eugene Onegin. M. Rerikh. wonderful." Glnz dobryi 155-156. "Pushkin (ocherk)" F. As it was. "if we want something with which to compare
the form and proportions of stone artifacts.32 He mentions this more than once in his essays. . an archeologist and orientalist.
"In general. "Radost"' 1 11. . Tatiana. still didn't understand me and looked upon my words as though they were an archeological whim. 1989) 527528."35
Roerich suggests that the level of art
32~ccordingto Dostoevsky. .those accornplishments. .33
In "Joy in Art" Roerich writes about the skeptical reception Russian
scholars gave to the Neolithic human figures he found on the shore of lake Piros in the Novgorod region around 1902. For example. then it is best to turn to the completeness of the classical world. His find created such a sensation that professor N. and a whole crowd of the best Frenchnen. Even ten years ago. I name the foreigners because [Russians] did not believe us. passed through Onegin's life "unrecognized and unappreciated by him. when I endlessly asserted the beauty and significance of our ancient icons. M." F." Roerich writes. had Childe Harold or even Lord Byron himself pointed out Tatiana's beauty to Onegin.
quickly pronounced them fakes. when they saw our art. 35~erikh. "Icons" he writes:
Still one more foreigner has come to believe in our ancient. many. . [WJe remember that Maurice Denis and Matisse . when we. . L Veselovskii (1848-1918). beautiful icons. Dnmnik pisatelin. . 3 3 ~ . gave our icons and our ancient art [the praise] it deserves. in rapture. he would have been amazed and astonished. 34~elikovand Kniazeva 73. the "apotheosis of Russian womanhoodrr and the positive protagonist of the poem. (Moscow: Sov remennik.
. But a year later Veselovskii continued the dig and verified the authenticity of the figures found by Roerick34 In 1905
Roerich shared his discoveries at an archeological congress in France. Dostomskii.
" Glar dobryi 32.
with enough expertise. "Na kurgane. compose a story?
It is this story making.
Benois somewhat cynically noted. "I do not believe in his Slavs and his elders.
. either in words or on his canvases. 38~erikh. "Radost"' 100-101. doesn't it seem to you that you have seen a patch of the starry sky with the naked eye?"36 This essay is a excellent example of Roerich's synthesis of his expertise n
in archeology and ancient history with his artistic imagination in the service
of the betterment of mankind. For this reason his
Roerich's contemporaries recognized his artistic restorations of myth. it should not be judged by the scaraty and worn quality of its artifacts. his interpretations. "Radost"' 101. then archeology must have a place in that nu1nber. 37~erikh. But when you have understood a part of the most ancient life. that can bring healing to the life of modem man: If there exists a series of topics permitting us even for a minute to come up for air from the maelstrom of routine Life. In this particular instance he refers to himself as not having sufficient expertise to compose a slmzka about the ancient Babylonians from the few "letters" that their artifacts represent. The theme of rediscovering ancient myth comes up frequently in Roerich's essays.of the stone age is equivalent to that of later civilizations. to cast a glance beyond the palace and above the gigantic factory smokestacks. In "Joy in Art" he refers to artifacts as "letters" from which one can. dusty artifacts lying in museums. in my opinion he made the whole thing up. He uses ancient artifacts as a point of departure for his artistic restoration of ancient myths. It is difficult to "see" the beauty of antiquity because "it is so distant from our perceptions of life. the bringing
to life of cold. carry the authority of his specializations.
Zil'bershtein and V. In this process the past will create the future:
3 9 ~ Benois. . he enticed me to follow as he embodied those long bygone times in form and images. *OA. Gidoni. In this painting. Speaking of the "passionate archeologist. VpecluzNmiia moei zhizni (1933. Samkov. Imagination took me to that place that only Nikolai Konstantinovich [Roerich] was able to see. I c a l l him Baian. gives evidence of the artist's unquestionable perception that antiquity must be portrayed not only through stories or through impressions about it. but they are not able to convey them in their fullness. one can sense an echo of ethnography. . an inevitable tribute to scientific
In her memoirs." she compares him to Baian. Leningrad: Iskusstvo. but through the creative method itself. 4 1 ~ K. "Tvorcheskii put' Rerikha. Benois unwittingly puts his finger right
on the crucial element of Roerich's work: he had a powerful ability to charm
because he could combine his academic expertise with his artistic vision. . Sergei Diagilm i russkoe iskwstw 1: 335. an inexplicable feeling overcame me. Tenisheva.
Gidoni discerned this combination in Roerich's painting ldols (Idoly) 1901:
"Idols" . the legendary bard who sang the epics of ancient Rus':
. all of my life I have dreamed of digging in the ancient graves
with someone expert.41 Roerich emphasizes the importance of the public's participation in coming to know ancient art in its original sacred ornamental function.paintings convey the feeling of boredom and strained interpretati~n. . quoted in 1. . perhaps unconsciously on the part of the artist. He alone gives us pictures of those things that we are not able to restore in our own imagination. . . together opening the pages of the ancient past. "Pis'ma so Vsemirnoi vystavki. Tenisheva refers to Roerich's ability to bring ancient
artifacts alive."~~ Even
in this critical stance toward Roerich. and this appellation fits him well. 1991) 226." Mir iskusst-ua 19-20 (1900): 158." Apollon 6 (1915): 10-11. Many are making dim conjectures about those times. .
. Each time that I found some kind of object that spoke about the life of people who had disappeared long ago.
all of society participate in the construction of the temple. and all of Hindustan. immersing itself in the best sources of creativity. and stone age "barbarians. kh. People must be participants in the task rather than passive observers.It is invaluable that the cultured part of society is now aspiring with particular urgency to become familiar with art's past. The Tatar yoke is remembered only as some kind of dark pogroms. . Rust again heard the tale of wonders w i h the Greeks and the clever Arab tradesmen of the Great Trade Route once knew -44
4 2 ~ e r i "Radost"' 89. painted yokes and embroidered sleeves.may everyone master ecstasy. il
In "Joy in Art" Roerich provides a corrective view of pre-Petrine
Russian art and culture: it is more than cockerels. 44~eri "Radost"' 94. . of course. This style wl bring an epoch that is completely unknown to us. In the flash of Tatar hc swords. . Scandinavian traders." All of these civilizations were steeped in beauty: From the Tatar yoke. And. These achievements will flow together into an apotheosis of a new style." In the fire of desire for ecstasy lies the promise of future brilliant achievements. In order for a harmonious epoch of art to be forged. It is forgotten that the mysterious cradle of Asia reared these remarkable people and swaddled them with the rich @s of China. dose to the first beginnings of art . May it be thus. it is necessary that. This kind of mental creation will consecrate all manifestations of life. . as though from an epoch of hate. Tibet. pre-Christian Slavs.
and the power of ecstasy to create a new epoch resonate with parallel efforts in
the other arb. kh.43 Roerich corrects the textbook images of Mongol invaders." the participation of all. society will once again understand the exalted meaning of the word "to adorn. following the artists. inconceivable at this time. time has destroyed whole pages of beautiful and elegant Eastern decorations which the Mongols introduced to the Rust. kh. as I wl demonstrate in Chapter III. il an epoch whose depths of ecstasy are.42 Roerich's references to the construction of a "temple.
. 43~eri "Radost"' 91.
Shchek. And l again there is no basis to consider the northerners wild enslavers of Novgorod's forefathers. We do not know how they lived. i
. . "Radost"' 98-99. perhaps dating to the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries
BC. and love.4~
Christian chroniclers had reason to demonize the pantheistic religion
of the pre-Christian Slavs because its roots were old and deep. they belonged to one of the most poetic religions. seemingly obscene songs that the chronicler explains are the result of his judgmental view. . demonic games. The bestial way of Life. a western-semitic goddess of fertility. Roerich
reminds his readers of recently discovered ruins in the Kiev region that are attributed to the cult of Astarta. Al the people accepted it. T i religion is the hs cradle of the best means of ~reation. . The zeal of the clergy-the chronicler-is completely understandable. He concludes that there must have been population centers associated
with these shrines. The
4 5 ~ e rkh. ruins give evidence of this culture's establishment in Russia's lands: It is without a doubt that the joy of Kievan art was established in dose contact with ~candinavi&culture. Everything they left is wise and beautiful. thus Kiev must have been a sacred site for centuries before its legendary founding by Kiy. maternity.ength to tell us about. and Khoriv:
Sil half blind we search for an authentic image of the tl inhabitants of these most beautiful settlements. All the people believed in it. and for so long the northern peoples honored the powers of nature. but in any case they lived long and lived in such a way that true art was close to them. Still not seeing very dearly. we can sense the charm of abandoned cults of nature which the most ancient chroniclers of Christian times did not have the sh. The proof is simple. To the Rus' the Varangians gave gods in human form.The Scandinavians were not just northern traders and invaders who passed through.
Roerich concludes his essay with a view of stone-age man. We dearly feel that the entire daily life and dwelling of ancient man cannot be something like animal dens. But art does not end.'~
The structure of "Joy in &t" makes Roerich's pronouncements on the
past immediately relevant to the present. This means we have arrived at the stone age. He marches his reader backward in time to prehistory. described in such a way as to refer directly to the present moment: But we sense that standardized (metalworking) life is ending. We sense that the usual baked colors of the environment should be changed in our imagination to beautiful colors. "Radostf" 100."Radost"' 11 1. "neonationalism. passing the landmarks of art and culture that were created as peoples came into contact. it crushed much that was also Seautif~l. 4 8 ~ e r i k h . The conditions of political economy are ending. draped with scraps of fur. Nationalism is ending. but a deiicate intricacy." which I will return to below. It underscores Roerich's prescription for the future. but he also points to his own extensive fieldwork and the work of others that has begun to reveal the Life and art of
the Neolithic age:
We can dimly imagine ancient dwellings.Church did not bring art. but originate from an orderly. in creating new forms. making the essay all the more potent. harmonious life. He admits
that much of this is imagined.48
4 6 ~ e rkh. i 4 7 ~ e r i k h . There is no crowd. not as a pompous hero with loincloths. A kind of new man appears. "Radost'" 101. And. The Church was founded on art. We can sense in lus implements not crudeness and roughness. We see ancient man.47
The reversal of historical time and the use of present tense give such
pronouncements an eerie tone of prophesy. He then moves to an even more distant time.
a connection that is missing in the contemporary world. The question of
Roerich's relationship to nationalism and nationalist painters also concerned Roerich's contemporaries. a n odd proposition for an artist whose works appear to be quintessentially "nationalist. others did not. the bear. an animal that
embodies the harmonious reconciliation of opposites: The joy of life is spread throughout the free." While Roerich celebrated the heroes and events of the Slavic past using a style composed of ancient Slavic motifs and ornaments. i
. stone age. at once powerful and tender.
He compares stone age man to the bear."49 Roerich focuses on the civilized harmony of these historical peoples as a way to bdance the commonly held view that they were
all barbarians. Although some colleagues and critics quickly
recognized the universalism represented in Roerich's work. unyielding and compliant-"
This view is represented in Roerich's 1911 painting Hrrrnan Forefathers
(Chelooech'i praotsy) where a lone figure sits on a hilltop before spreading
lush green lands and plays a pipe to an audience of his kin. "Radost'" 105. he honored the contributions of other cultures as well.
4 9 ~ e rkh.For Roerich. The
ancients lived their lives in close contact with the forces of the sky and the
earth. "Radost'" 109. Roerich's prescription for the future requires an end to nationalism. a group of bears. thrifty in the care of his family. satisfied with the abundance of food. swift and heavy. as evidenced in the motifs used to decorate their tools and their dwellings. each of these civilizations possessed a connection to ancient truth. but the tsar of the woods. i 5 0 ~ e rkh. "It is shameful for our times: in antiquity there was not one object without decoration. ferocious and benevolent. What kind of man is stone age man? He is not the ravenous and greedy woIf of succeeding times.
" Zolotoe runo 4 (1907): 6. Hs historical realism is said to possess only "slight poetry. and for his paintings of folktales and historical scenes. I the catalog for a 1906 exhibit in Paris. for his restoration of paintings in the Cathedral of St. In a review published in The World o Art in 1900. . was known for his work on Russian historical themes. . V. "Pisfma so Vsemirnoi vystavki. A.
Later he was willing to compare Roerich's work to that of ~asnetsov. especially on themes of social criticism and national pageantry in Old Muscovy. 53s.
imitating archaic Muscovite style. . the art critic Gollerbakh.In some cases it took years for Roerich to rid himself of the stigma of his early
association with Stasov. [In his works there] is a penetration into the universal through the Russian." i See Hamilton 395-97. . in my opinion he made the whole thing up.~2 who
is well known for designing the facade of Moscow's Tretyakov gallery in 1905. Makovsky. . "N. It is a pity that he still has not found his niche. w s more outspoken in his dismissal of Roerich's early a f works.
It was only much later in his career that Benois
recognized the deeper contents of Roerich's work. . Riabushkin (1861-1904) was a genre painter who focused on scenes of seventeenth century
Moscow. Another contemporary. a penetration that is only possible because in Roerich there is
5 1 ~ Benois. For this reason his paintings convey the feeling of boredom and strained interpretstion. ." Sergei Diagilm i russkoe iskusstwo 1: 335. who favored the eighteenth century in his own retrospectivism. Vladimir in Kiev. Benois. 5 2 ~Vasnetsov (1848-1927) was a genre painter in the manner of the Wanderers. this young painter does not possess these masters' gift of historical clairvoyance. Rerikh. but.53 Other critics took Benois to task for failing to look at the
whole of Roerich's work. K. unfortunately. a Wanderer. but not a nationalist. Surikov (1848-t916). recognized the
essence of Roerich's neonationalism:
Roerich is a Russian. I do not believe in his Slavs and his elders. He is known . he wrote:
Roerich's agenda closely resembles Surikov's and Riabushkin's. n Benois refers to the paintings of Vasnetsov and his principal rivals Nesterov
After a lengthy description of the various themes and faceless
figures in the paintings depicting the ancient past. Is it the dream of national antiquity? If you like. his thought desires the depths. No matter what he sees i his daydreams." He recognizes that Roerich does not confine his interest to the national past. Makovsky interpreted the nature of n n
n Roerich's "nationalism" one year before Roerich himself made it explicit i
"Joy in Art. the primitive barbarian of the earth. His images draw us to the farthest distances of the faceless past. whatever epoch he resurrects with the care ar. instead he is one of the other group of artists
. Makovsky concludes:
We look: it is all the same uninterrupted dream of hoary antiquity. a soul penetrating a l the elements of Life."54
I a 1907 article i Zolotoe runo. to the depth of prehistoric Life. a blind. . not Scandinavian. Roerich's "human" is not Russian." Rerikh (Riga: M u e i Rerikha.
S6~v(akovsky 3. for him.
.always the feeling of the "elementally Russian" [stikhiinonrsskoe] i contrast to those who continued to paint the tinselly n "Holy Russia. and it is based on that primordial granite o f the tribal spirit on which lie the layers of the centuries. faceless soul. although it is accepted to consider Roerich a "national" painter. to the sources n of human fate.55
Makovsky asserts that Roerich's faceless figures set him apart from that group of artists who see individuals.56
5 4 ~ Collerbakh. not Slavic. 5 5 ~ a k o v s k y4 . He is ancient man. . . [who]are attracted by the mystery of the soul. common to whole epochs and peoples. It is not the most important thing because. a soul in w i h separate individuality l hc perishes like a weak brook in the dark depth of a subterranean lake. "Iskusstvo Rerikha. But this is not the most important thing. the national-historical theme is just a decoration.d expertise of a n archeologist. 1939) 24. the utmost beginning beckons it.
Rostislavov is referring to Roerich's individualism in the first sense only." Zolotoe runo 4 (1907):8.I the same issue of Zolotoe runo. "Individualizm" 9." He begins by n
suggesting that this concept might be the very solution to the problems faced
by contemporary a r t
Can we purify our art? What shall we adopt? Where shall we turn? To new misinterpretations of classicism? Or shall we descend to ancient origins? Shall we delve to the depths of primitivism? Or will our art find the new radiant path of "neonationalism. n Roerich's contemporaries recognized his contributions and valued them-
Roerich addresses "neonationalism" early in "Joy i Art." "Among us he is singular.
. It seems he miraculously sees and comprehends the beauty of bygone times.
t e Divine Sophia. Rostislavov writes about Roerich's n
"individualism. enigmatic mystery. See the discussion of individualism as a part of the World ofArt aesthetic in Chapter III. It is as though a small corner of the soul of distant. 58~ostislavov. the particular beauty of w i h he hc attempts to convey i the precise forms of contemporary arts8 n
Roerich was not alone in his belief that art carries the power of healing. and Dostoevsky's statements i his "Pushkin" speech h n
about the strength of Russianness." surrounded by the sacred herbs of India.
5 7 ~ Rostislavov. a different. We must separate the individualism of the artist that was promoted in response to the group program of The Wanders from themes of individualism in the works themselves. his views echo Solovfev's promotion of the unifying power of the World Soul. he lives a l f of old. there are hints and flashes of an unsolvable. Roerich's work is directed toward
restoring man's access to collective consciousness by encouraging his partidpation i the ecstasy of art. ."57 Roerich is gifted with intuition and daiwoyance that take him beyond his scholarly knowledge of the past
In Roerich's individualism there is something fantastic. fantastic world. completely alone. "Individualizm Rerikha. mystical forefathers Lives in him. ie he senses the remote culture that is so enigmatic for us.
the kind of resurrection of ancient myth that culminates in "ecstasy in art. kh. First. and simply Living side by side with others. . it was formed by the synthesis of many artistic traditions through centuries of invasion. . then the cornerstone of its treasure will be [."
will he be able to take part in creating the future:
5 9 ~ e r i "Radost'" 88-89. he poses the question. [.
As Roerich reveals his concept of "neonationalism. and lofty with the flight of ideas of the so-called Slavonic peoplesl59
He resists defining "neonationaLism" at this point.strong with Finnish magic. 6 0 ~ e r i "Radost"' 90 kh. He implores his readers to "throw out all that is narrowly nationalistic.
. contact through trade. . Unknown wanderers leave cold ashes in their hearths. Mysteriously the majestic Aryans appear. he develops the concept
slowly through the pages o the essay in the accumulation of images he paints f
with his words. instead of the tendency toward dulled nationalism.] the truth and beauty of exalted antiquity.61
Second. . How many of them there are! A synthesis of really neonationalist art collects itself out of their @. the power of neonationalism Lies in modern man's participation in the rediscovery of ancient beauty through the creative act of unraveling or imagining its original splendor and context.] If. captivating "neonationalism" were fated to take shape. "Was there beauty i that life that
flowed through our territory in particularlW60 Throughout his corrective view of pre-Petrine culture. Roerich underscores the synthesis that produced
this past beauty:
The coiorfui Finno-Turks pass us by." he stresses two of
its features. kh." Looking beyond the dichPs that are generally associated with
n Russian culture. . . 6 1 ~ e r i "Radost"' 100.
This is Roerich's prescription. And many things-as dreary as they appear-will become illuminated then by the joy of penetration."63 Roerich's neonationalism is based on archeological evidence of the synthesis of ancient cultures. It is forbidden for a man who is unable to understand the past to think about t e future.64
62~erikh. Wtiter's Diay 2:1293.
Sometime during this period Roerich wrote an
epigraph for The Flowers of Monia (Tsvety Morii).It is time for all people to begin to understand that art was not only there where it is obvious to everyone. Above every beautiful thing there is one Beauty that leads to Knowledge of the Cosmos. "Radost"' 99. Moscow: Sovrernenni k. 63~ostoevsky. 1988) 13. a cycle of poems depicting the search for spiritual enlightenment: Above every Russia there is one Unforgettable Russia.
Roerich's neonationalism is an ideal that transcends national borders
and chauvinistic views of national culture. Neonationalism is the desire to experience the Divine Unity that regulated the balance of Chaos and Cosmos in ancient cultures. In this lies the charm of the past and of the future.Tmety Morii (1921.
. and the viewer will become a creator. It echoes Dostoevsky's evaluation of the strength of the spirit of Russianness in its "ultimate aspirations toward universality and the universal brotherhood of peoples. combined with his belief in the power of beauty and his gift of retelling the old stories with his words and paintings. it is time to believe that time has hidden much more art from us. Above every love there is one Panhuman love. a desire renewed as a goal both by Solov'ev and
in Russian Theosophy. A
For Roerich the act of discovering the beauty and harmony of ancient art replicates the spiritual state of its creators and original users. Makovsky writes of Roerich's early love of stones and how that manifested itself in his style of painting: The Stone Age! How often have I found Roerich at his work table. Roerich is attempting to recapture this spirituality for himself and for his contemporaries." they must also offer the greatest potential healing power." that for his generation had become distant memory. the dwelling place of earliest peoples' faceless soul. a
realibus ad realiorn. Stones. Perhaps this is why Roerich repeatedly returns to the stone. air. Close to "Izvara. both contemporary and historical. considered for so long to be incomprehensible whims of nature: faceted arrowheads. the
"ecstasy in art. Since stone artifacts demand the maximum participation in recreating primordial "ecstasy in art. . and fire. there were ancient burial
. . I will discuss Ivanov's ideas in greater detail in Chapter m. man's place among other races of men. carefully fingering these wonderful "flints".This mirrors Ivanov's urging artists to go beyond the real to the more real. they inspired his first artistic sense. and man's place among all the other creatures." where he grew up on his patrimonial estate. man's place in the balance of the elements of earth. hammers and knives from burial mounds. The ancient truths revealed in the ornament of stone and metal artifacts represent what Roerich perceived as universal spirituality. [Roerich] has been certain of them since childhood. water. universal human state of harmony with all aspects of life: the physical with the spiritual. in their search for sacred and spiritual knowledge that
will transform modem life. . His concept of neonationalism means recreating the
essential. scrapers. on the hilly fields next to coniferous forests where bears and moose roamed.
hard. as if these forms had felt the pressure of a stone chise1. The entire style of his drawing is simplified at times to paradoxical boldness. only her bony foundation-the stone.67 Voloshin emphasizes the opaqueness of Roerich's paintings in this essay.
. . as we will see in his response to Roerich's Queen of Heaven below. But there are [canvases] thickly painted with heavy. and opaque stone of displaced skata. Thus small stones of the "cave man" bewitched [Roerich's] dreams. This can be clearly seen in his decorative compositions. i 6 7 ~ Voloshin.mounds. as though the artist
was groping for the skeleton of the earth. He writes of the "certainty of the stone. and in the earth. but the heavy. Among Roerich's canvases there are those delicately touched by his brush.65 Makovsky was not alone in remarking on the stony quality of Roerich's work." Liki tuorchestoa (Leningrad: Nau ka. . and even in his manner of painting. pottery shards and flint implements."66
I a 1909 article "Archaism in n
Russian Painting" (Arkhaizm o russkoi zhivopist]. Voloshin focuses on the stony quality of Roerich's painting: [Roerich] is indeed an artist of the stone age. they seem hewn out of stone paints. rings. 6 6 ~ i d o n15. Gidoni noticed the earthiness of Roerich's The House o God f
(Dom bozhii). As a result. "Arkhaizm v russkoi zhivopisi. As a boy he dug here and found bronze bracelets. layered seokes. 1988) . 279. . in his graphics. but elsewhere he calls Roerich prophetic. the love of stones gave a particular nuance to his quest for primitive forms. The article was first published in Apoilon 1 (1909): 43-53. not crystal that returns the sun's light and flame. velvet carpets with carefully executed details. Not mineral. . He was very aware of the spirituality of Roerich's works. but because from the four elements of the world he perceived only earth. not because he sometimes attempts to depict the people and edifices of that epoch.
65~akovsky 4. .
Mordvinian legend a goddess shatters a piece of flint and creates the gods of earth. 7 k e r i kh. pick one up with your own hand on the shore of a lake. 'l~erikh. find one yourself on site. These and other legends and sayings give evidence that somehow the indecipherable origins of the stone age are still alive. Turn it over in your hand slowly and a smile comes to your face.69
For Roerich. "Na kurgane" 26. the venerable crust of antiquity covers the stone. fire. "Radost"' 102. A portion of beauty is in your hands. "Radost"' 104.70 "A particular mystery surrounds the remains of the stone age. In your hands a necessary implement comes to life. the stone is directly connected to heaven.Roerich considered stones to be sacred objects in themselves. 69~erikhf "Radost"' 110. You do not notice its former purpose. the woods. Simply stated. Remnants of the forests. you have managed to take hold of the stone in just the same way that its ancient owner used it. For with the exact fingering you have hdppened upon all of the well-thought-out hollows and bumps. and dwellings from the gleaming shards. You understand the entire subtlety and sculpted quality of its finishOut from under the grayed deposits the tone of jasper or jadeite begins to shine through. stone remains have always been related to heavenly
68~erikh. it will tell you of its own long life. The stone itself will answer your questions. In a Mexican legend a flint knife is thrown from the heavens and its shards form one thousand six hundred gods and goddesses.
. In his essay "At a Burial Mound" he describes the positioning of rare stones at the head and feet of the body that is also aligned with the east-west path of the suna68 Stones are also bearers of ornament and other evidence of the purposeful life of ancient man:
If you want to penetrate to the soul of stone. He begins the second
section of "Joy in A & ' by recalling several ancient myths about the stone.
3. 1970) 35-42. ultimate reality that manifests itself in nature and through the helping hand of man. beauty is both a divine principle and an objective.74
Roerich understands that ancient art expresses man's relation to the Absolute. the immortalization of its individual phenomena. 2nd ed. 73~olov'ev."Obshchii" 398. "Beauty will save the world"
(krasota spaset rnir). "Krasota" 351. the spiritualization of natural beauty and. first because of Solovfevfsdialectic. Ideas put forth in Solov'ev's essays "Beauty in Nature" (Krasota o prirode
1889) and "The General
Meaning of Artff (Obshchii smysl iskusstua 1890) formed part of the key assumptions of many symbolist theorists and artists at the turn of the century. 1990) 2: 35144. "What is beautiful in n
the aesthetic sense must lead to a real b e t t m e n t of reality. stone artifacts become windows to ancient man's spirituality. is kusstva. A Study of Vyacheslao luanov and the Russian Symbolist Aesthetic (London: Methuen. Sochinmiia. "Obshch ii srnysl .
. .'Z "Beauty in Nature" begins with an epigraph. I this essay Solov'ev writes that." and that beauty is
~ransfigtrrationof material through the embodiment in it of some other.." Voprosy f l o s f i i i psikhologii 5(1890). Roerich's stone is the most material manifestation of the spirit. 2. common among symbolist poets and artists. Vol. For a more complete discussion of these ideas see James West.Roerich's ideas clearly reflect Solov'ev's influence. This is the
transformation of physical life into spiritual Me. The direct objectification of those profound inner attributes and qualities of the living idea which camot be expressed by nature.
. 2 (Moscow: Mysl'.
higher-than-materiul principle. Russian Symbolism. "Krasota v prirode. 358. and later articulated
7 2 ~ Solov'ev. Both essays are reprinted in Vladimi r Sergeevich Solov'ev."73 Solov'ev sets forth the mission of art:
Thus the triple task of art in general is: 1. through this. This image is but one example of the neo-Platonic idea. Dostoevskyfs famous
words spoken by Prince Myshkin in The Idiot." Voprosy filosofii i psikhologii l(1889). 74~olov'ev.
Russirm S y m b o h 48-10676~arlson 6-1 77. begun during that time. 11 "~erikh. a chord whose third note is the beauty of 'the m y s t e r i ~ u s . see West. a religious philosophy of Divine Unity based
partly on neo-Platonism. traces the journey of a seeker of spiritual enlightenment
using images that pardel Ivanov's philosophy of art. Rerikh o Petnburge." Glaz dobryi 73-74. Roerich invests stones with the power to heal modem
7 5 ~ i a c h elav Ivanov developed this theory most fully throughout his writings. See M.V. was very influential in Ivanov's life from 2907-1910. "K prirode. Korotkina writes that Rerikh was a close friend of Andrei Bely. light and darkness.
Armed with the evidence of ancient legends and earliest man's sacred ornaments on stone. Russian Theosophy.78 Roerich's cycle of poems The Flowers o Moriin. Korot kina. in 1906. he needs darkness to understand the light.Petrogrnde 150. in his 1901 essay "To Nature" (K prirode) Roerich writes that urban beauty and the beauty of nature do not cancel out one another. For a s summary and discussion of Ivanov's philosophy of art. 7 8 ~ Ivanov met Anna Mintslova. Mintslova . also recognized man's need for polarity and the
reconciliation of opposites. Apollo and Dionysus." L. " ' ~ ~
Roerich was acquainted with Ivanov at a time when both were studying
f Russian Theosophy. from
the material at one end to the spiritual at the other?
Other manifestations of
polar opposites include male and female.76 Roerich was familiar with this thought. order and chaos. but "in their opposition they intensify a mutual impression giving forth a chord.more completely by Ivanov. they often met at Ivanov's Wednesday evenings at his home. an active promoter of Russian Theosophy. that reality is arranged along a vertical axis. Both poles are essential: there is a
simultaneous attraction between them and an apparent irreconcilability or antinomy. Divine Unity appears as duality in man's
consciousness. the "tower. Carlson 89-90.
" Tmety 19-20."Sviashchennye znaki./ Zelenyrn mudrym. Kamen' mai. Kamen' khrani. He saw the Slavic past as closely connected to man's ideal primordial state. one that others commonly exemplified i Hellenic culture. Know the stone alone.
Roerich was not the only artist who looked for answers in the archaic and primitive. stones are "sacred signs" (sniashchmnye znaki) that
remember the past and point the way to oneness with the Spirit./ Sinim spokoinym. Preserve the stone. a harmony that could be redaimed by modern man as he
79~erikh./ Ogn' sokroi. Russia had not lost her link to this past." Tsvety 18. -79
cycle of poems./ Znai odin.. He viewed traditional Russian culture as a synthesis of cultures connected to the ancient and universal ideal of beauty. Karnen' khrani.man's spiritual crisis. . it represents the interco~ectednessof earthly elements to the spiritual world and the
unified harmonic context for the ritual that the ballet portrays. ." $O~erikh./ Krasnym srnelyrn. incantation:
He begins The Flowers of M n i with a ritual o'a
III. Treasure the fire.
Know the stone. ("Zakliatie" is dated 1911) "III.
. as I will point out in Chapter ID.He n viewed the past as a manifestation of the harmony between the material and spiritual world. Ognem zazhgisia.80 The stone
n boulder i the center of the first act backdrop for The Rite of Spring is nothing
less than the presence of ancient sacred mystery in that world. . not as barbaric invaders who brought destruction and chaos to the land. He considered ancient peoples to be surrounded by beauty and living life in harmony with the earth and spirits. ."Zakliatie. not as something narrowly and superficially unique to Russia. Set yowelves aflame With brave red fire With calm blue fire With wise green fire.Preserve the stone.
Many of the objects created at Talashkino. the very cradle of the movement." S. incIuding interior design.participated in discovering. and again in 1900 as Russian pavilions. Sergei Makovsky seems rather carried away by the fairyhis tale details of the design.
. and these remarks have become an easy answer to the question of the ballet's concept:
And how fitting." in the Russian context they represented part of the much broader spectrum of retrospectivism. something extremely Eastern and Slavic. This broad view of Roerich has been obscured by the rather picturesque circumstances that surrounded his meeting with Stravinsky in 1911. Elsewhere Taruskin has defied neonationalism as the artistic use of folk materials as a source of a new styIe. complicated. "working on the scheme of 'Sacre du Printernp~." Roerich recalled. KI. the very kind of Russian revivalist architecture that had been exported to Paris exhibitions as early as 1878. 408.
8%aruskin. Makovsky. Both Stravinsky and Roerich remarked on this setting in their later reminiscences of this meeting. Tmeshmoi (Petersburg: Sod ruzhestvo.82 In the Parisian context these buildings were "exotica.
82~amilton 394-5. They use this setting to underscore Roerich's more
8 1 ~ n description of the termok. after all. This is what Roerich offered to Stravinsky as they worked together on Velikaia zhertua in 1910 and 1911. "In them one can sense a kind of 'Berendey-like' beauty. "We sat in the colorful fairy-house. Stravinsky 560. however they see it primarily from the Parisian point of view. understanding and preserving ancient beauty. were clearIy a combination of folk design and art
nouveau. kdeliia masterskikh kn. M . 1905) 45. They
worked together in a "little fairy tale house.8~ Every surface was decorated with the best examples of folk art. Shminsky 871.'~3
This is the context that western scholars have traditionally accepted for the creation of The Rite of Spring. barbaric and cozy. Talashkin0." a feremok built by Sergei
Maliutin at Tenisheva's estate. that final plans for h s culminating landmark of neonationalism should have been concluded in Talashkino. Talashkino.
62. I discovered that I would have to wait two days for the next t a n ri to Smolensk. Straninsky in Pictures and Documents 75-100. still excited by his
"dream" vision a year earlier. Rerikhu. I therefore bribed the conductor of a freight train to let me ride in a cattle car. located some miles from Smolensk. In one letter Stravinsky asks Roerich to send him copies of the notes they had made.. in others he refers to their "future It wasn't easy to get to Roerich during that summer of 1911. 85See Stravinsky's letters to Rerikh on 7/12/1910. though I was a l l alone in it with a bull! The buli was leashed by a single not-very-reassuring rope. Taruskin. since he had lost his. "Pis'ma I. I must have looked an odd sight in Smolensk as I stepped from that corrida carrying my
84See V. however. I .visible ethnographic and historical contributions to the ballet's concept and design. and 7/15/1911 in Vershinina 5860.
This meeting between Stravinsky and Roerich is well known by those
who study the beginnings of the ballet!* Stravinsky. He was working at Talashkino. Stravinsky 860-881.
contribution to this ballet is generally acknowledged by vague remarks about his obsession with the past. ed. planned to meet with Roerich to work on the Libretto for their new ballet Velikaia zhertoa. years later he remembers:
I journeyed from Ustilug to Brest-Litovsk. where." Sooetskaia rnutyka 8 (1966):57-63. Stravinsky and R. and as he glowered and slavered I began to barricade myself behind my one small suitcase. Roerich had designed the costumes from garments in The rest of Roerich's
Tenisheva's extensive collection of folk clothing.7/27/1910. however. Craft.
. Stravinsky underwent considerable discomfort to get
there. meeting several times in S t Petersburg. They had begun work on the
ballet in 1910. Stravinskogo N. and he
was reluctant to leave. Vershinina. After all. They corresponded
several times that year.
I expect to start composing in the fall. Craft. I think at 5 o'clock in the morning." 613. Stravinsky and Craft. I set to work with Roerich. to f n s in the spring. Please write. and in a few days t e plan of h action and the titles of the dances were composed. and that the Talashkino trip will be unnecessary?8*
8 6 ~Stravinsky and R. Igor Stravinsky Is it possible that you wiU be in Smolensk yourself. 87~travinskyand Craft. telling me the best way to get there horn Smolensk. Another reason why we must meet now is that I will not spend the winter in St. 1981) 140-141. not tramp-like) bag and brushing my clothes and hat. but I must also have looked Stravinsky is more explicit in his remembered discomfort than he is regarding the setting at Talashkino: The Princess Tenichev gave me a guest house attended by servants in handsome white uniforms with red belts and black boots. "In 1929 Stravinsky told his biographer Andre Shaffner that the incident with the bull occurred on the return trip to Volhynia. at least. I feel that if is necessary to come to a final agreement about our child. n
. 60. I send sincere regards to you and to your wife. 88~enhinina See also V. Perhaps if it is not too far. Petersburg-all of us will go to Switzerland and from there most likely to Paris. 141.87 Why was Stravinsky willing to go to such trouble to meet with Roerich? His later memory may have magnified the difficulties he encountered. Berkeley: U California P. 1911 a s expresses a mixture of lo
urgency and reluctance:
Dear Nikolai Konstantinovich. In a note in Strauinsky in Pictures and Documents. and health iih permitting. Expositions and Dmelopmmts (1962. Craft writes. but his letter dated July 15. Please write immediately on your arrival in Talashkino. It is difficult to give you a definite answer why we must meet. Yours. Shminsky i Pictures and Ducurnmts 82.expensive (or. could some horses be sent to fetch me? Keep in mind that my train from Warsaw arrives very early. . There are questions about the staging. Expositions.
I became quite fond of him in those early years.Straninsky 871. I knew he would not overload. "I had
admired his sets for Prince lgor and imagined he might do something similar for the Sacre. 901. Stravinsky recalls. however. Petersburg
8 9 ~ e t t e rto Nikolai Findeizen dated 2/15 December 1912. He knew enough of Roerich's work and ideas."90 This was not a l l he knew of Roerich: I met [Roerich]. Hs wife was a relative of Mtusov's. who if not he is privy to the whole secret of our forefathers' closeness to the eartht"89 Later in his conversations with Craft. "Who could help me if not Roerich. . as Taruskin writes. 1. . and I often saw the [Roerichs] at MitLLMvfs Saint Petersburg house. F. Kalmudc-eyed. as I will argue in Chapter IV. in L.S. Conversations with fgor Stravinsky (New York: Doubleday. Repin directed Tenishevafsschool in St.91 Stravinskyfs collaboration with Roerich was not by chance. Strauinskii: stat'i i mterialy (Moscow: Sovetskii kompozitor. . ed."92 Roerich was one of many artists who worked in the kustar' workshops at Talashkino. though not of his painting. pug-nosed man in 1904. There is more to this meeting at TalasNcino than "fairy tale houses" and several days' work. to choose Roerich and to undergo some discomfort to meet with him.
15travinsky and Craft. . Craft.
. not by others' recommendations. a blond-bearded. .
Why couldn't Roerich meet Stravinsky in Srnolensk? Roerich was
unwilling to leave Talashkino because. Stravinsky and R. Conoersations 106. my friend and coi librettist of the Nightingale. D'iachkova.Why did Stravinsky seek out Roerich's help in realizing his dream of pagan
sacrifice? As he explained in 1912. 1973) 470. Above all. "[he] was
designing and supelvising the execution of a series of murals and mosaics in
'neo-Russianf style for the interior and exterior of [Te~sheva's]private church. 1959)
105. it was initiated by Stravinsky himself. 92~aruskin.
The Siloer Age 39-46. rev. exactly as if it must be so. however. that in resurrecting lo1k Art from the dark past." Reviews of the same objects in the French press are much more enthusiastic. The review originally . Korovin and
Polenova also worked there at various times. 9 4 ~Dib. Roerich himself did not have a very high
opinion of many products of the kttstarf movement. after all. Benois."94 to those that represented the synthesis of folk art design with something new. Roerich accompanied her apprehensive return to Talashkino nearly three years later.93 The products of the
Talashkino workshops ranged from furniture and objects that were
considered by at least one contemporary critic to be uncomfortable." Realm of Light 314. Rerikh.
. the rnoderne. And they will tell you in such a tone. either creating their own works or designing works to be made in the workshops.
Bilibin. of Talashkino. Nesterov. by Sergei Makovsky. Vrubel'. This critic and others. Tenisheva had taken her priceless collections to Paris for safe keeping and for exhibit. this is the revival of 'the old' Russian style.' If you attempt to express surprise that these things are essential for everyday life they will undoubtedly tell you that. John Bowlt. Fearing the worst from social
w e s t in 1905. of 'the true' form of folk art. ~ . Roerich spent periods
of time living and working at Talashkino. "Crude. Levitan. "Zakliatoe zver'e" in Zhuravleva 398. Serov. and they were but dumsy allusions that give the public the impression that the legacy itself was crude and unworthy of the modem "enlightenedtr eye. See Zhurav leva 386-391. did single out Roerich's and Vrubelrs work as well as Tenisheva's
enamels from general criticism. useless things are for some reason considered our Russian 'applied art. appeared in Zolotoe runo 5 (1906). Zhuravleva 384-86. MaLiutin. It was on this
9 3 ~ e r i k h "Princess Tenisheff.95 From his first meeting with Tenisheva in 1903.92
from 1895-1898 and worked closely with her at Talashkino during those years. he felt they failed to communicate the refined beauty of ancient applied arts. joining her in Moscow. 9 5 ~ . Diks seems especially annoyed that these objects are being thrust on the public. . we must preserve it exactly as it was 150-200 years ago. dumsy and interesting only as "curiosities.
I 1900 the newspaper Smolenskii oestnik noted that the n
church would be built in an ancient Russian style and decorated with mosaics
and ceramics.97 However. To the right and left of the center image in the lower part of the mosaic are three trumpeting archangels. "The pictorial composition of the mosaic is fairly simple." fskusstoo 3 (1962) : 61-62. 9 7 ~ Zelinskii. Indeed. Roerich himself designed one of the
mosaics. She commissioned models of these churches for exhibit at the 1900 World Exhibition in Parismg6 Several artists had contributed designs for the exterior of the church at Flenovo including Prakhov and Vrubelr."
. nerukotoornyi refers to a legendary portrait of Christ miraculously imprinted on a veil during His lifetime. painted
96~huravleva 319-322. and red.93
journey that Tenisheva asked Roerich to work on her private church at Flenovo. begun in 1900 in the name of the Transfiguration
of the Savior. the exterior facades of the
church are decorated with mosaics and ornament in imitation of the ancient
Russian churches Tenisheva loved. closely following twelfth. "2abytyi parniatnik russkogo iskusstva. In later descriptions of the project. The color scheme is in tones of gold. the image of the Savior Not Made By Hands (Spas nerukotoornyi).to thirteenth-century tradition. embroidered dothing. Christ's eyes look straight forward. but Maliutin's designs were ultimately selected. the "neo-
Russian" style of the design is emphasized. Tenisheva had been especially inspired by the style and richly carved ornament of the seventeenth-century tent-shaped churches in Yaroslavl. near Talashkino. On a journey around the historic towns of ancient Russia. brown. and his expression is severe." in the common western definition that associates his artistic output
with the style of carved wooden objects. The central part is occupied by a representation of the head of Christ against a background of a towel decorated with the folk patterns of Smolensk. Spas . there
is no reason to assume that Roerich's designs for the interior were "neoRussian. Groups of angels ascend and gradually diminish in size until they conclude their upward flight in a small schematic representation of the church.
Makovsky. . Artists lived there with the "freedom
9 8 ~ e n iheva. 1905). years later. if God deigns it so. Talashkino. . What an undertaking for an artist! ie What a huge ground for expression! So much creative work can be part of the temple! We understood each other. ." unless otherwise indicated. KI. a view that will be repeated in "Joy in Art'' nearly four
Life at Talashkino was founded on the belief that beauty
transforms life. through him God's truth will be told.
.spoons and balalaikas. In 1905 he
wrote a n introduction to Makovsky's book ~alashkinogg in which he
comects the activities at Talashkino to his vision of t e place of art in h contemporary life. Roerich's designs for the church clearly reflect the ideas he has written about and expressed in his paintings since early in the century. The Holy Spirit is the energy of divine spiritual ecstasy. Tenishaoi (St. . The text originally appeared in S.. s . it attempted toreplicate the unity of ancient man's life and his synthesis of the best from all cultures. chosen by the Lord's flame. In her memoirs Tenisheva recalls her reasons for enlisting Roerich:
I merely dropped one word and he responded. M. he understood the Holy Spirit. The temple will be completed in the name of the Holy Spirit. Nikolai Konstantinovich fell in love with my idea. connected to all-encompassing l f by a mysterious power. she knows Roerich's mind. Citations are from the 1931 translation. will I complete itHe is a man living in the spirit. The original text bears the title "Vospominaniia o Talashkine. "Talashkino. Vuechntlmiin 250. Only with him. ." it is reprinted in Zhuravleva 363370. and she has chosen wisely. Izdeliia m t m k i k h Kn. Petersburg: Sodruzhes tva. Amen-98
She has in mind something more sigruficant than a nostalgic replica of ancient Russian Christianity. where the essay is dated 1908. 99~his introduction appeared in Realm o Lightf an English translation of Rerikh's writings in f 1931. The wordtemple.
working. to the excited discussions of exhibitions-is close to all of us."Talashkino. All phases of art are d e a to the workers in the art shops. to the works of new artists. We are reminded of the covenants of our forefathers and of the beauty and solidity of anaent works. this civilization is alive." Realm 299.lo3 To Roerich. 103~erikh."Talashkino. The domestic hearth fully attentive to the best contemporary publications." Realm 301. albums. designs. "Even Mikllla digs the beauty of life out of the soil. and is transmitted unto many generations."1°4 Roerich describes the products of Talashkino in the same way that he has described artifacts from ancient civilizations. all aspects of life at Talashkino were in harmony. "Talash kino." each artist felt the "special pulse" that "develops in the students and young masters a specially penetrating mien:"102 Here lie no secrets of austere augurs. and celebrating its life with rituals: A procession of keen memories: loO~erikh." combining the best of the past with the "latest utterances of the Ocadent. "Radost"' 105." Realm 300. the people create again newly conceived objects. lavishly decorated and soothing to the accustomed hand.of art." Realm 299. to his delight. lO1Rerikh. lo2aerikh."lOl Talashkino was likewise a place of "conscious creation. "Talashkino. Every student creates his Holy of Holies in the execution of the selected craft. without servility.
. copies and compositions.100 As ancient man used "loving concern to make from all of his surroundings
something that is carefully considered. 104~erikh. away from the contamination of the city."
On the sacred hearth. The beauty is impressed on the life of the village. without the trade marks of factories--creating lovingly and freely.
Gates and posts designed with figures. tufts of grass and roots. Nastebkn is a quilted fabric. Dye-shops with the mystery of colors. Dances. padded nnsbbka. . that highest creation of our spirit?1*6
105~erikh. A profusion of patterns. unrestrained sweep of h external reliefs on t e walls of the Cathedral of Yuriev-Polsky. Where else could we wish more the apotheosis of beauty than in a temple. From the top-most cross to the smallest illuminations of the speciallywritten prayer books-everything is being planned with the utmost care. . how they rehearse their parts. masking Rerikh's emphasis on carefully selected detail and the distant paths of The Spirit. sharp festoons. velvety and soft to the sight. [. . pIain textiles. the translation in Realm is somewhat condensed. Fairy-like chambers. . the ancient witch of Mordva in antiquated garb of cotton thistlethe witch of the combination of fast colors."Vospominaniia o falashkine'' 368. A theater really ingenious. "Moscow weaves. . the realization of his ideal: Thus I witnessed the beginning of a temple to this life. ."Talashkino. Even the distant paths. and the rake." back-stitch crosses. Io6~erikh. and the impressiveness of the Prophets of the Novgorod Sophia-all our treasure from the divine being must not be forgotten. ] Staging. to get into ancient garments. They are adding to it all that is the best. though it is far from completion. . . hooked cloth.
. transparent weaves. the phantasmagoria of Rostov and Yaroslavl churches. In this construction it is possible to realize all the miracle-working traditions of ancient Russia with its refined feeling for ornamentation. the scythe. May the covenants of beauty be M y realized in this venture. open sack-cloths. Village life-a theater. Choruses. checked linens. the Temple of the Holy Spirit is a temple to the way of life at Talashkino. animals and flowers. Let the years go by in quiet work. unlike many of our new collaborations. Even the temples of Aianta and Lhasa. woolens. after working at the carpenter's bench. And the unusual. They are building a church at Talashkino. ." Realm 302-303. 1 have translated from Rerikh's Russian text. And it is difficult to believe that they are students! How they hurry. how they move in their dances and play in the orchestra!l05 For Roerich. . Music. Embroideries.
my paintings Human Forefathers and Drevo preblagoe aragarn ozloblenie [sic] and sketches for The Queen of Heaven were completed. it is one that Europeans had come to equate with the essence of Russia and were contented to accept as the foundation for Stravinsky's and Roerich's work. Probably even now some fragments of Stravinsky's inscriptions remain there still."Sacre. we sat in the colorful fairy-house. The hills of Smolensk and the white birches. and white lotuses like ancient lotuses of India
1O7~erikh. Taruskin." Realm 186. Talashkino in Smolensk. the estate of Princess Tenisheff. However.
Seen in this larger context of Roerich's work. I have found a page dedicated to the production of "Le Sacre d u Printemps:" "Eighteen years have elapsed since with Stravinsky. By September 1912 the ballet's name had been changed from Velikaiz zhertva to The Festiad o Spring (Prazdnik oesni ) which became the French Le Sacre du Printmps. Stravinsky 871-872. yellow water-lilies. the "fairy-tale house" at
Talashkino cannot serve as XIemblem for his meeting with Stravinsky. Roerich synthesizes the traditions of ancient Russia with other traditions. Roerich's often quoted memories of his meeting with Stravinsky begin with this one facet:
In my Diary. But who knows if the present inhabitants of this house realize what is written there upon the beams?"l07
This image is exotic and appealing. especially the fresco The Queen of Heoven (Tsarifsa nebesnaia) that
covered the entire wall behind the altar. "Sacre" was an address at the Wanamaker Auditorium under the auspices of the League of Composers in 1930. working on the scheme of 'Sacre du Printemps. Roerich's
reminiscence does not end with the words cited above.Just as ancient man fused together the art and wisdom of the peoples with whom he came in contact.
. The Russian title f was soon changed to Vesna miashclrmnnia. but continues:
It was a pleasant time when the Temple of the Holy spirit. for it represents only one facet of life there. both eastern and western in his designs for this
church. (Sacred Spring).' And Princess Tenisheff asked us to write on the beams of this multi-colored house some excerpts from 'Sacre' as a memento.
Krishna and the Gopis. because it appears that Rerikh has conflated the titles of two of his paintings. Zhizn' i tuorchesfoo. this portion begins midway through the paragraph and not as a new paragraph as it appears in the English translation. I did not translate the title. Ostrovsky and into an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov." N. an image found repeatedly in Roerich's life work and
. These photos are all that remain of Tsaritsa nebemaia. Rerikh designed costumes and sets for both the play and the opera between 1908 . However. K. K Rerikh. attempts to show more of Roerich's work at Talashkino by including a full-page photo of the artist at work in this chapel. In Slavic folklore the shepherd Lel is a character in the pagan pantheistic fairy tale Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden). "Khudozhestvennoe naslediie N. and Prechistyi grad oragam ozloblenie (The most pure city. The Russian text is one long paragraph. The Queen of Heaven on the Shore of the River of Life (Tsaritsa nebesnaia
na b e r e p reki Zhizni).108
Roerich makes the context of his work on Velikaia zherfva explicit.ed. I h w e quoted from the z Russian text of this lecture at this point because the 1931 translation partly eliminates Rerikh's emphasis on the universality of his images. Kupnua or Kupala is associated with the summer sotstice. Sbornik statei . Kuz'mina (Moscow: Izobrazitel'noe iskusstvo.1912. Korotkina 185."Vesna sviashchennaia. In these eternal concepts the wisdom of the East has been interwoven with the best images of the West.109 He does not even identify this image. The same photograph in larger format and printed with better contrast can be found in Decter 66. Infuriation to the enemy). 1978) 271. 109~aruskin. See V. transformed into a play by N.reminded us of the eternal Shepherd Lel and Kupaoa. Sokolovskii. but most
scholarship has stopped at the familiar "fairy-tale" house. D r m preblagoe glazam uteshenie (The Tree Bearing the Gift of Solace to the Eyes). Due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances the interior plaster crumbled and fell taking the fresco with it. One must point out that the sons of the East would definitely see the exalted Krishna and the Gopis in the figures of Lel and Kupaoa. Rerikha (perechen' proizvedenii s 1885 po 1947 god). or as a Hindu would say. Taruskin. leaving the impression that
the fresco is a new interpretation of traditional Orthodox decoration and
religious folk art and nothing more. M. Drwo preblagoe oragam ozloblenie.Straninsky 871-873. he fails to see the connections between the symbolism of the fresco and Roerich's writings." i literahtrnogo nizslediia 359-60. in his most thorough treatment of this collaboration.
Seeds planted much earlier by Stasov began to grow and flower in Roerich's
by work. cherubim. V o l o s h wrote:
llOl(niazeva. The Queen of Heaven lifts up prayers for the human race following a difficult path.N1
The earliest sketches of Tsaritsa nebesnaia date from 1906 and coincide
with Roerich's renewed interest in ancient Indian history and culture. The base of her throne rests on the firm ground. 1973) illustration 13. lll~erikh.ll3 The Buddhist elements of Tsaritsa nebesnaia were apparent to contemporary commentators on Roerich's work. along the stormy river sail the wretched masses. all of creation rejoices in her presence. evocative of the Holy Mother (Bogoroditsa)." GIaz Dobryi 205. there is a procession of saints above the apse: [The] Queen of Heaven is all powerful and omnipresent. Her prayers touch both the stormy waves of the world and the fantastic cities of the heavens. Poliakova. seated on a throne beside
the River of Life in which human travelers are struggling to find their way
and not perish.110 She is surrounded by h e a v d y beings: archangels. He was also greatly ~nfluenced his wife Elena's interest in Eastern religions and philosophy. Nikolai Rerikh (Moscow: ~ Is kusstvo. 1968) 37.
. not knowing where good is located or where eva. Above her rise heavenly cities guarded by angels. R & (Moscow: Iskusstvo. Past her. 1 1 2color reproduction of a 1910 sketch can be found in E. seraphim and swarms of angels who are amazed by her good works. She sends prayers to
the Holy Spirit.an image that captured the imagination of Russian philosophers and poets at
the turn of the century. "Tsaritsa Nebesnaia. N. Tsaritsa nebesnaia is a symbolic composition that shows a female image. Il3~ecter 65.
Not all responses were favorable. the image must have been shocking to
Orthodox believers. however. His large church fresco at Talashkino. commissioned by Princess Tenisheva. According to one account. horrified me.Shcherbatov. or holding the Holy Infant. and perhaps what attracts one to this composition is the fact that. "Khudozhestvennye itogi rimy 1910-1911 g. . or the crush of heavenly powers above the colorless expanse of earth that gives this impression. the first version of her face was
masculine." but subsequent versions were more traditional to iconography. quoted in Zhuravleva 272."5
At first glance it appears that Roerich is presenting his own version of the Bogorodifsa for the apse decorations. Tibetan character. . "the mask of Buddha.
Rather than the typical
position of the Holy Mother's hands either in an open position with palms raised. Whether it is the white dothing of the Mother of God among the purple throngs.
Russkaia rnysl' 6
. it bears a purely Buddhist. ) l15s." Vozrozhdenie 18 (1951):117. and that greatly offended the Princess. her image extends from her earthly throne into the lofty heavens. Moskva. ready to bestow a blessing. although all of the elements are apparently Byzantine. beginning with her enormous size. 116Zhurav1eva322.What strangely startles one. Roerich's Queen
of Heaven holds her hands palms together in the Buddhist "namaste"
position." (1911 :30. . one can sense in this icon something extremely ancient and eastern. In a Russian church in the Smolensk region there sits enthroned a Tibetan-type Mother of God whose composition borrows from Tibetan and Siamese religious frescos. The artist and collector Sergei Shcherbatov recalls:
A certain stiltedness and unconvincing contrivance made many of his [Roerich's] works unpleasant.116 Roerich's contemporaries commented that the
Voloshin. "Russkie khudozhniki. His interpretation is dearly not canonical.
K. In Buddhism. Tokarev. the lotus also symbolized a universal power that directed the world and developed life in the world."B
The medallion in the center of the Queen's body does not contain t e h
expected image of Christ instead it contains the lotus. is
also part of Roerich's later memory of that summer. As I will demonstrate below. 2nd ed.N. lI81. In abstraction. Denisova. he remembers working
on h s painting The Tree Bearing the Giff of Solace to the Eyes ( D r e a o i
preblagoe glazarn uteshenie). (Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia. the lotus is also associated with life at
Talashkino. the Tree of Life. the stars
also connect her image with the Tree of Life which was commonly depicted
in Russian folk design with the polar star at its top. the place that holds the promise for the future of mankind. 2 vols.
Another conspicuous symbol in Tsaritsa nebesnaia. She also wears the red veil decorated with stars that is symbolic of her intercession. 1995) 190.119 These symbolic meanings are conflated with the promise symbolized by the image of Christ in such medallions in Orthodox iconography. "Lotos. a symbol frequently found in ancient Egyptian. Near Eastern and Indian ornament In India the lotus was associated with the womb and symbolized the goddess-mother's sacred creative powers.l17 At the same time. Tsaritsa nebesnaia wears the crown of the Mother of God. l19s. Voprosy izucheniia kd'ta miashchenno~odereua u russkikh (Moscow: Institut etnologii i antropologii RAN. Roerich used this symbol often in his own
7~ostislavov.face in the final version strongly suggests Indian beauty." Mify narodm mim. M. it shows the place for the sacred tree of Buddha. 2987) 2: 71-72. typical of the Roman Catholic tradition.
As Roerich writes in his memoir
"Vesna Sviashchenaia" quoted above.. Rerikh 77.
.A. the lotus was also connected with the beginning of a new cosmic era.
With its roots it lodges deep in the earth. With its roots it lodges itself deeply in the earth. .works. it also occupies the central part of a cyde of canvas panels he
painted for a private re~idence. His poetic image of the Tree of Life appears to be the symbolic equivalent of Roerich's Queen of Heaven: With its roots it lodges itself deeply. and in the eternal subterranean fire.337. The vertical axis connects the spiritual and material worlds. With its top it ascends aloft. It extends its blooming emerald branches into the unrestricted turquoise expanse. disappearing radiantly in the sky. With its crown it ascends so high. With its crown it ascends to the lofty crags. New Del hi: Asian Publication Services. I Theosophy the image is connected to the goddess n
from whom all things proceeded.
1986) 77.Blavats ky.121 Konstantin Bal'mont's poem "The Slavonic Tree" appeared in his 1907 collection of poems Zhar-ptitsa (Firebird).
It embodies the concept of the eternity and u i y of all things as well as the nt creation of life itself. especially embroidery. while the whole
image symbolizes man's connection to the gods and mystical forces in nature.
. It extends its green branches to the unlimited azure distance. and it is common to Slavic folk design.
12O~orotkina287-189. his 1905 painting The Treasure of Angels (Sokrovishche angeloo) shows angels standing near the Tree of Life.12~ The Tree of Life is found in many ancient cultures. guarding a radiant stone.
l 2 I ~ P. Theosophical Glossary (1892. The
Tree of Life appears in Roerich's sketches for his memorial to his teacher
Kuindzhi. It extends its green branches wide to the infinite blue distance. variously called the Immaculate Virgin or
even primordial Chaos. so high. And it knows gaiety.
The divine unity inherent in the image of t e Queen of Heaven illustrates h
Roerich's lines from The Flowers of Moriia. . the artist embellishes and restates the concept of
the World Soul in his collocation of synonymous images and in the repetition of the Slavic Tree of Life across the fabric of the Queen's silverywhite dress. also links the material world to the divine. each time embellished with more detail.
. and Slavic paganism. "Slavians koe drevo.
the spiritual as well as the material. spiritual
122~onstantin Bal'mont. Even the distant paths. Tsvety 13. all of which testifies to her power as creator and protector of all Living things. . 1907) 152. Tsaritsa nebesnaia is a complex symbolic composition that reflects
n Roerich's convictions about the role of art i the whole life of modem man. it is a visual representation of "the new that radiant path of 'neonationali~rn~'"~24 Roerich expressed in "Joy in Art. a l l our treasure from the divine being must not be forgotten. 124~erikh. Buddhism. Roerich's Tsaritsa nebesnaia.
123~erikh. . "Above every beautiful thing there is one/ Beauty that leads to/ Knowledge of the cosmos."123 Likewise. .103
And it knows sadness. This combination of ancient sacred symbols follows his own statement in 1905. "Radost"' 89. "Vospominaniia o Talash kine" 368. 125~erikh. ." Zhar-ptitsa (Moscow: Skorpion. evokes an image of descent and ascent that penehates farther with each return. The visual effect o Roerich's design i a parallel to the poet's f s
ritual celebration in words.I22
The poem's ritualistic repetition of lines.'r125 Tsaritsa
nebesnnia links the material world of earthly creatures to the divine. since it is a synthesis of images from Russian Orthodoxy. that ". sitting on her earthly throne and with her starry veiled head extended to the heavens.
Christ. This purposeful journey appears to b e directed towards an achievement of.: Wilfrid Laurier LIP. . the EarthMistress.126
This single feminine archetype appears as Solov'evfs Divine Sophia
and the Divine Feminine. She is the feminine principle of nature. she is Christ and the Buddha. it is but one manifestation of the concept of the Divine Feminine espoused by Solovfev in the last decades of the nineteenth century and reappearing in art. she is the Mother of the World and the World Soul. She is both the spirit of material manifestation. history and mankind are not random creations but all possess meaning and are progressing towards specific ends. Vladimir Soloo'ev nnd the Knighthood of the Dioine Sophia (Waterloo. Roerich's
2 6 ~ a m u e lCioran. God Himself has sought to inspire man with the wisdom of His divine plan by providing him with archetypes or prototypes representative of the union of heaven and earth. poetry. Ont. such as the perfect Godman. God and man Mankind is capable of gaining this end if it can discern the purpose or wisdom of God's creation. The universe. connected to earthly nature and darkness.
.world. God's purposeful scheme for the universe. 1977) 1. with Sophia. The Queen of Heaven is more than the Mother of God. the world. The image of the Queen of Heaven is not unique to Nikolai Roerich. wisdom lies at the root of the scheme. the World Soul. the wisdom He displays in its formulation. or the Divine Wisdom of God. and the perfect Church in which mankind as a whole is united with God. Indeed. and summarizes it in this way:
As the word implies. or restoration off oneness between heaven and earth. This wisdom is in the possession of God who in creating the universe
did so with a dear purpose in mind. . was associated. and essays in the first decade of the twentieth Samuel Cioran refers to this philosophical and religious tradition in modem Russian thought as Sophiology. while at the same time she is attracted to the divine principle of God's Wisdom and Light.
"Bred. Blok abandons the image of the Divine Feminine.
. the poet. as expressed in "Stikhiia i kul'tura.
. I heard the trembling of the life of the world. "Stikhiia" 121.129
Finally the Divine Feminine is realized in her most material form as
the Stranger (Neznakomka). . "Zemlia-vladychitsa! K tebe chelo sklonil ia. After 1905. And through your Fragrant veil I sensed the fire of a kindred heart.127 Blok's realization of the Divine Feminine as the Beautiful Lady (Prekrasnaia dama) in his early poetry gained him recognition as Solov'ev's "legitimate successor. replacing it with the unpredictable." quoted in Cioran 58-59. will pass from the hills. . And from the fire of love life's suffering Is borne away like fleeting haze. Solov'ev. irrational power of nature. 129~10k." where even "the churches.''I30
127~. the "Ancient Maiden."~28 By 1905 she had become the White Maiden (Belaia deoa). the incarnation of mystery and beauty as an
ordinary urban female. And freely flowing river and rustling forest Bore a melodious greeting to the silent gleam. he longs for the White Maiden to bring him relief.Tsaritsa nebesnaia echoes the image of the Earth-Mistress in Solov'ev's 1886
poem: Earth-Mistress! To you I have bowed my head. 128see Cioran 139-261. In the mid-day rays with such a burning delight Descended the blessing of the radiant heavens." searches for the White Maiden. incarnations of
the Holy Mother." Sobranie sochinenii 1: 377-378. In the manifest sacrament again I see the union Of the world soul with an otherworldly light. 130~lok. in the poem "Delirium" (Bred)." His soaety is dead to the old Life. through the ravings of his "impoverished sod" and clinging to the "hoary past. . but she remains asleep in a doud of
not in geopolitical terms. but as a battle of
world terrors (chaos) against the unity of the World Soul (cosmos). then nationality [narodnost'] is the first sub category of humanity. "Apokalipsis" 41 1. including his 1905 essay "The Apocalypse in Russian Poetry" (Apokalipsis n Russkoi poezii). w i h he closely allies with religion. l ~ ~ Bakst expresses in a Hellenic context what Roerich depicts in his synthesis of Christian. is to hc find that muse's image and express the eternal truth of the whole world in that image. 132~lok. In this way poetry is theurgic.Many of Bely's works. Buddhist and pagan images in Tsaritsa nebesnaia. Bely recalls Solov'ev's insistence that one can struggle successfully against the mask of madness that is encroaching upon the world only by delving more deeply into the eternal
feminine wellspring of the spirit and by setting her image before all people. 1994) 408-417. to come to
earth to exercise her theurgic powers to recreate unity. Thus artists take on the role of priests in facilitating the
recreation of the world. Citations are from A. when unity is restored to man's consciousness the world will be transformed." Simuolizm kak miroponimnie (Moscow: Respublika. the image of the Woman Clothed in the Sun.
131T'his article first appeared in Vesy 4 (1905):11-28. The image of the muse must crown the development of national ~ 0 e t r y .
Bely writes that the goal of poetry. "Apokalipsis v russkoi poezii.'31
In this essay Bely responds to the war with Japan and
the following civil unrest in 1905. Here before us is the way to unity through free and spontaneous development of the people's strength. also contain the image of the Divine Feminine. the Woman Clothed in the Sun is a particularly Russian muse: If humanity is the most genuine unity.
. Bely also invests
the World Soul with tones of Russian messianic nationalism. He wants
the World Soul. Bely.
when many felt that civilization was
again facing destruction. The panel shows the
n imminent destruction by flood of a ancient Greek city.107
Bakst's 1908 panneau Terror
represents the constant presence
and power of the Eternal Feminine. Chaos was not to be feared. The presence of the World Soul and the cydic nature of the cosmos are affirmed. However. and
ant-sized inhabitants of this ancient civilization. and sky. temples. n
. but to be
celebrated and embraced as it brought new creation. even in the face of the cataclysmic end of
civilization. stony earth. and her position in the panel tells the nin viewer that she is constant and faithful and will survive the chaos that menaces the twentieth century. serene statues. The original Chaos from
which the world was created according to Greek myth was a prominent image
at the turn of the twentieth century. She is seen against the ancient battle of
elements: sea. He gives the viewer a sense of the cosmic nature of the events depicted by his use of an almost aerial perspective. The original work can be seen in the permanent collection of the Russian Museum i S t Petenburg. as Bakst embraces it in this work. she holds a dove. Ivanov made it the
133~his panel is reproduced in Kharitonova 83. images of chaos-the
storm and raging sea-threaten the buildings. the survivor of another ancient flood. Her serenity balances the cataclysm. The smiling Cretan goddess in the foreground of Terror Antiqtilcs represents the World Soul that preceded the civilization and its worship of Apollo that is depicted below her. Bakst brings her into the world of the viewer by placing her feet and the hill she stands on completely out of the frame of the panel. fiery lightning. Both Blok and Ivanov found important reflections of their philosophy in this work. She has survived the destruction of this a c e t civilization.
and Bakst. the Virgin Mary.
This theme is fundamental to Roerichs work. the image of the Queen of Heaven presiding in the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Velikaia zherfva is but one part of Roerich's temple to the healing
power of beauty. Roerich shares this belief in the World Soul. In 1910 in a published interview Roerich had stated.13"
The Eternal Feminine is seen as a constant of the universe. and he used those disciplines to one end: his entire oeuvre can be viewed as his own temple to the World Soul and his belief that beauty has healing power.subject of a lecture and an article.
Ivanov. who were willing to embrace the chaos
that they believed would precede the transformation of the material world. the Queen of Heaven. the very temple of the new Life in art. A dose look at Roerich's own description of the ballet leaves
no doubt about this. the Beautiful Woman. "I
Unlike Blok. the Woman Clothed in the Sun. she is a divine manifestation that artists reflected in many different images: Divine Sophia. Ivanov. Bely. "Ancient Terror" (Drmii zizhns) published
in 1909. Roerich cherished the cosmic order held in place by the Queen of Heaven and
marked through time by the rituals and ornament of ancient civilizations. "Drevnii uzhas." Zolotoe runo 4(1909). It also appeared in his collection Po
zoezdarn in the same year. his essays reinforce this message through scholarly discussion and through his lyrical recreation of the idealized ancient world. Aphrodite.
. Roerich embodied expertise in a wide range of disciplines. attests to Roerich's belief in her powers and the power of beauty to transform the world. series of paintings capture the beauty and order of the ancient world while also depicting the everthreatening presence of Chaos.
a series of ritual ancient Slavic dances culminating with the offering of a sacrifice. I won't list the program of dances. girls conduct mysterious games and select the chosen victim whom they exult with songs. and I find beautiful traits in it. I will only point out that the first scene. K." and "the circle dances."'35 wrote to Diaghilev:
In answer to your questions. in the second scene we are brought to the heavenly mystery [mysteria]." "city against city. Here is an old sorceress who tells the future.want to express a bright summer night at the summit of a sacred hill. I wanted t~ present scenes of the joy of Earth and the exultation of Sky in a Slavic context. After the bright earthly joy. conceived by Stravinsky and myself. and only now have people come to understand and believe in that beauty. 1910: 15. to green glades where Slavic clans are gathering for spring games. but I have seen that the better part of the public is ready to fall in love with ancient delights since they are necessary stages of future creation. 30 Sept. U N. here are the games "the abduction of the women. I can say that I have been studying Russian (and Slavic) antiquity for twenty years now. No 1187. In the whirlwind of contemporary life the public often forgets about the distant life when people knew how to rejoice. I celebrate this. "A kiss to the Earth" [Potselui Zemle] transports us to the foot of a sacred hill. Now she will dance the final dance and the witnesses to that dance will be the elders who have domed bear skins as a sign that the bear is considered
135~1: "Nashi besedy. Rerikha. Talented Nijinsky has beautifully stylized the mystical terror of the crowd at the moment of that mystery [taina]." Finally the most important moment comes: They bring the oldest and wisest one from the village so he can give the sacred kiss to the budding earth. Among enchanted stones on the sacred hill. Sometimes people have tried to tell me that passion for the beauties of antiquity are merely mine alone.the program is not important to the scenes. Even fifteen years ago I spoke numerous times about the authentic beauty of Russian icons. Quoted in Zil'bershtein and Samkov 430.
Early in 1913 Roerich
. wellknown in the history of the stone labyrinth." Obozrenie teatrov. wonderful scenes which the pubLic must be reminded of. when they understood the beautiful cosmogony of Earth and Sky. . In the ballet Same du Printemps.
has the power to transform consciousness and therefore transform the material world. Zil'bershtein and Samkov 2: 120. Reprinted in ~ . these sources were the foundation for the creation of a new ritual that could restore order and harmony to contemporary man's troubled Life. both in the creation of art and in the appreciation of its beauty. lofty in its joys and deep in its intentions [designs]. For the ancients art was inseparable from the ritual that preserved their life. The meaning of Velikaia zhertva goes beyond its more obvious sources in folk arts. Roerich believed that art can regain that power by helping contemporary man remember and reconnect to the spiritual realm represented by the beauty of ornament. archaeology and ethnography. The elders hand over the sacrifice to the sun god Yarilo. Rerikh to Diaghilev. I love antiquity. Reinvested with their ancient connections to the spiritual
world. undated letter from the beginning of 1913.
1 3 6 ~ .
.the forefather of humans.I36 The experience of ecstasy.
as exemplified in the work of Viacheslav Ivanov
and Alexander Scriabin." rev. of Art and Enterprise in Diaghilm's Ballets Rrrsses. Taruskin claims that Stravinsky's musical advances in The Rite o Spring "left the f dreamy pastoral visions o Roerich and the rest far behind. New Republic 9 Oct. Roerich's contribution was not confined to what Taruskin calls
I~aruskin. Next. First. "How He Did It. by Lynn Carafola. in part by a return to ecstatic ritual. Elsewhere Taruskin states. in most analyses Stravinsky becomes the primary focus. I wl also discuss the prevalence of these attiiudes il
and ideas across educated and artistic cultureAs noted in Chapter I.
. 1989: 30. I will demonstrate that the common interpretation of the ballet as subhuman barbarism fails to take into account the Russian intelligentsia's search for religious renewal. Stravinsky 949.Chapter lII
Ecstatic Ritual and the Mysterium:
The Intellectual Context in Which The Exalted
Sacrifice Was Born
This chapter will describe the intellectual context that gave impulse to Stravinsky's and Roerich's collaborative efforts. attempts in western schoiarship to account for
the ideas motivating Stravinsky and Roerich still fail to find a unified concept. subsequent disavowals and dissociations on Stravinsky's part are not evidence that he did not share Roerich's view as they worked on this project. he may not have left Roerich's views entirely behind. "Stravinsky's music certainly subverted the rosy idyll that desgner/scenarist Nikolai Roerich conceived his Sacre du Prhtemps to be."' f
While it is true
that Stravinsky later abandoned the extra-musical elements of the project. I will argue that the collaborators were unified in thcir vision." Richard Taruskin.As I have demonstrated
in Chapter 11.
a sentimental view of Slavic antiquity. Furthermore, Taruskin reconstructs
an intellectual context as a motivation for Stravinsky's later work, Soadebku
(Les N ~ c e s ) ,that dearly derived horn the intellectual climate of Stravinsky's ~
and Roerich's Russia; he also documents Stravinsky's contact with these ideas
as early as 1911.3 These Eurasian and Scythian ideas that were so attractive to
Stravinsky in emigration grew out of the ideas that the philosophers Solovfev,Sergei and Evgenii Trubetskoy, and others discussed in philosophical journals and religious-philosophical societies from around the 1890's. Taruskin, however, points to Lev Karsavin and Nikolai Trubetskoy (the son of Sergei) as the influential parties. He discusses Karsavin's messianic view of Russia that stressed all-in-oneness (oseedinsfoo), the simultaneous selfaffirmation and self-surrender of the individual, the wholeness of the church (specifically the Orthodox Church) both within itself and in connection to all aspects of "the worldly," and the wisdom of a people who are uncontaminated by Western empiricism. Nikolai Trubetskoy's Eurasian
writings idealize a Turkic proto-culture (which he extends to include the Slavs) that possessed qualities of nonreflective, "organic" wholeness. Taruskin links these ideas directly to nineteenth century Slavophilism, and while he briefly notes para11eis to Saiabin's and Ivanov's mysticism, he skips a generation of thinkers and writers, one of whom is Sergei Trubetskoy, the philosopher who asserted that the Russian mind, through its ability to synthesize reason and belief, could offer an antidote to western philosophy's dependence on reason. The reader wl see similarities to the ideas Roerich il expressed throughout his writings: the integration of religion into all aspects
Defining Russia Musically, Historical and Hemeneutic~i Essays (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1997) 393-409. 3~aruskin, Dflning Russzh Musically 400401.
2~ee Richard Taruskin,
of man's life, the wholeness of an apparently dualistic world, the collectivity
of primitive society. In this chapter I will demonstrate that not only by his
association with Roerich, but through contact with artistic and intellectual
circles including the W r d o Art, Stravinsky was familiar with these ideas ol f
well before he emigrated to Switzerland. We must also remember that the dissociation of Stravinsky's music
from the scenic and choreographic elements of that first production was the
result of circumstances that had nothing to do with any disagreement about
the concept of the ballet before its premiGre.4 Stravinsky's letters to Roerich,
written between 1910 and 1913, show his dependence on Roerich and his delight with Roerich's designs, with his own music, and his hopes for Nijinsky's choreography.5 I believe the perception that there is no unified concept in this ballet is due to an apparent reluctance to recognize, to understand, and then to accept as a motivating concept of this ballet Roerich's conviction that in order to strive for something new, man must first know "the refined primitiveness of our ancestors, for whom rhythm, the sacred symbol, and refinement of gesture were great and sacred concept^."^ Roerich
4 ~ Garafola~suggests that the original mounting of The Rite of Spring disappeared from the y repertoire of the Ballets Russes because of Diaghilev's sense of enterprise. See Richard Taruskin, "How He Did It," 31-32. Millicent Hodson cites a backlash from opera house managers, financiers, and critics who urged Diaghilev to abandon "this path of Nijinsky's." because it was too avant-garde for their taste. Diaghilev had also expelled Nijinsky from the Ballets Russes in the summer of 1913 after the dancer married Romola da Pulska. See Hodson, Nijinsky's Crime Against Grace, xii. In a letter to Benois written in October 1913, Stravinsky expresses deep concern over the future of "his child," given Diaghilev's change of attitude toward both Nijinsky and this work- Stravinsky can't imagine Sacre without Nijinsky. See L. Diachkova, 477478. Whatever the reason, what has come to be called Nijinsky's Sacre effectively disappeared after its first and only season. S~travinsky makes several references to "our child" in these letters. He writes to report his own progress and to get information from Roerich. On December 1, 1912, after receiving Roerich's sketches for the costumes Stravinsky wrote, "I have seen [the sketches] and my Cod, I really like them, they're a miracle!" See Vershinina, "Pis'ma I. Stravinskogo N. Rerikhu" 5763. 6 ~ o e r i c h"Sacre" 188. r
continued t o profess his ideology in poetry, essays, and paintings for the rest of his life- For example, in his 1930 lecture "Saue" w e can see that his w o r k
has p r o c e e d e d along the same path of celebrating the "constructive striving of
the spirit. . . in connecting our e a r t h l y existence with a SupremeM7 that h e
f o u n d e v i d e n t b o t h in a c e t rituals and in primitive societies that live nin scattered across the world. I this somewhat r a m b l i n g account o f recent n
travels and reminiscences, Roerich's agenda is stated as clearly and in the
same i m a g e r y as it had b e e n in his writings in the first d e c a d e o f the century.
I t e context o f New York in the 1930s Roerich's message seems s o m e h o w n h
marginal, even "crackpot," and therefore e a s y to dismiss.8 Yet, as I h a v e
shown in Chapter 1 , Roerich was serious in expressing this message and w a s 1
taken seriously by his contemporaries. The Rite of Spring must b e r e t u r n e d
to this religious c o n t e x t as I will demonstrate below, this b o d y o f thought w a s neither marginal nor something to b e dismissed lightly.
Roerich does not seem bothered that Stravhsky's m u s i c Lives on alone; a s late as 1930 he reports that it is "acclaimed everywhere ;ind there no longer
any conventional prejudice against this expression."''
It seems that for
Roerich the music f u l l y e m b o d i e s the o r i g i n a l c o n c e p t and continues to
disseminate its message:
7 ~ orich, "Sacre" 188. e 8 ~ v e n the late 18' Roerich's work was haunted by westerners' ignorance and condescension. in 90s In an editorial "The Two Roerichs Are One" the writer devotes one paragraph to the recent revival of The Rite of Spring performed by the Joffrey Ballet and the remaining seven paragraphs to Roerich's unseemly influence on Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace in the 1930s, including influencing Wallace to persuade the Treasury to engrave the Great Seal's mystic pyramid on new dollar bills. By the time Wallace became Roosevelt's running mate in 1940, this scandalous involvement with Roerich and his ideas was kept quiet by the Democrats' threatening to bring up Wendell Willkie's adulterous affairs should the Republicans publish Wallace's letters. See Karl E. Meyer, "The Two Roerichs Are One," New York Times 22 January 1988: A30. 9~oerich, "Sacre" 189.
it is the great serpent ring touching the great past. Stravinsky touches the eternal in music. and sacrifice is eternal. . We are trying to discard old forms and to create something new." as satisfying as it is. My primary task in this chapter is to redirect critical focus to this intellectual context. certainly are the essential feelings of "Sacre du Printemps. The identification of musical and folkloric sources and the verification of ethnographic authenticity. T i is the natural festival of the soul. But in order to strive for something new we have first to know the old. Only then can we attain the true enhancement of life. He was modern because he evoked the future. and love is eternal.This constructive striving of spirit. dishacts scholarship from asking other questions.. This should be very dose to us all because today we are striving toward the next evolution. in connecting our earthly existence with a Supreme." We cannot consider "Saue" as Russian.10 Throughout this chapter the connections between Roerich's speech and the intellectual context of turn-of-the-century Russia will be made dear. nor even Slavic-it is more ancient and pan-human. Thus in this new conception. once this larger purpose is revealed. . while interesting and informative in assessing the artistic achievements of each of the coIlaborators.
The meaning of the ballet lies in the motivation behind these selections and reworkings. but in exuberance of spirit. . . This is the joy of love hs and self-sacrifice. ti joy before the beautiful hs laws of nature and heroic sacrifice. not under the knife of crude conventionality. . should not be the main focus of understanding the ballet. And still "Sacre" is new and the young ones are accepting "Sacre" as a new conception. Each successful
"find. the innovation and skill of
each collaborator's art can be seen in relation to this motivating concept The
Rite of Spring was a n attempt to recreate the power of ancient myth by
. and perhaps the eternal novelty of the "Sacre" is because spring is eternal.
with religion permeating
every aspect of man's ritualized." trans. He synthesized his knowledge of ancient peoples into his grand view of
man in absolute harmony with his surroundings. 1966) 372401. trans.116
returning an act of ritual worship to the temple of the theater. the model of oproshchenie represents embracing subhuman barbarism and rejecting westernized.
Taruskin. and Eric Walter White. and some see a foreshadowing of the
violent sacrif5ce of youth in the coming world war. 1975) 13. As noted in Chapter I. "A Corner-tocomer Correspondence. Gertrude Vakar. he sees the ballet as oproshchenie w i h he hc a defines as "'going primitive. ed. influenced by barbaric images created in Blok's later Scythian writings. but there has also been a failure to
recognize the spiritual content of their work. Marc Raeff (New York: Harcourt. ed. Stravinsky 855."~2 term he borrows from Viacheslav Ivanov's and Mikhail Gershenzon's "A Comer-toCorner Correspondence" (Pnepiska i dvukh uglov)."
In this mindset it is
difficult to understand the seeming paradox of the ballet-that life. generalizes Blok's apocalyptic view of the
anarchic potential of the masses and. Jean Cocteau. In Chapter I1 I discwed Roerich's use of the past to restore spirituality in the life of modem
they see destructive. "Le Sacre du Printemps. Not only has there been a failure to understand the view of primitive
man intended by Stravinsky and Roerich. St raoinsky's Sacrifice to Apollo (London: Hogarth P. Minna Lederman (New York: Da Capo P.' the vulgar rejection of cult~re. highly refined but spiritually bankrupt culture (kul'tura).1. Frederick Fuller (London: Oxford UP. for example. barbaric violence.1~ z Simply. Russian lnteilectuni Histoy: An Anthology. a 13v. written in 1920. decorated Me. Stravinsky. Western scholars have been distracted by their interpretation of the powerful forces depicted in the ballet. See also Roman Vlad." Straoinsky in the Theatre. 1978) 35-36. 1930) 43. Taruskin's adoption of this model
llsee. Genhenzon. for example. I 2 ~ r u skin. Ivmov and M.
the Primeval Memory of man. . the misrepresentation continues. unified form. . He refers to Ivanov's role in this correspondence as "the unregenerate voice of kul'turu. . which recognizes only uproshchenie.14 Further
investigation of this text. it has a spiritual component that is crucial to Ivanov's vision of modern man's path to salvation. This is the way of
The magic formula. oblivion.and the related metaphor of Scythianism depends
and misinterpretations of Roerich's ideas. of perfection over imperfection.
able to feel that they have roots. . to our intelligentsia. perfected. joyous. I developing the concept of n oproshchenie. to connect with the spiritual realm that has been
available to him throughout time. akomprehending return will come. Everywhere-I repeat this again and again-there is a Bethel and a Jacob's ladder-in the center of anyone's world. Ivanov's model depends
on man's ability to ascend. But it is Memory. that is. They think that by "becoming simple" they will put down roots. rational. defection-a cowardly. this shows to what extent they are severed from the roots. however. hs An era of great. the reduction of a complexity to a simpler. The idea makes as little sense in relation to culture as it would in mathematics. . is oproshchenie. even if there are as yet il no signs of such a change. that will bring t i miracle about. s
. uproshchenie. crowning achievement. . my dear friend. the victory of completion over the incomplete. Taruskin draws our attention to a text that reveals a message quite different from the one he infers. . Straoinsky 854-855. westernized culture. It is reached not by defecting kom a given society or country but by moving upward. Simplicity is the supreme. listless reaction. Oproshchenie is betrayal. . be
1 4 ~ a r u kin. reveals the true nature of Ivanov's preferred model." implying with the aid of an ellipsis-filled quote that Ivanov stands for enlightened. . He writes: This is how it w l be. Culture will become a cult of God and of the Earth. The way to this longed-for and lovely simplicity leads through complexity.
and by himself forgot.
. it describes all of its manifestations in man's history. mathematics. Culture is the c u l t of ancestors and. and no wonder-even the savage has already forgotten i t The philosophy of culture I put in the mouth of my Prometheus i my philosophy: s They will invent and practice commerce. to experience the universal spirit. and l65ee my discussion of Blok's essay "Stikhiin i kul'tura" in Chapter 1. the freedom of oblivion is a stolen. not freeborn men.genuine. The only way to avoid becoming "a dull guest on the dark earth" is to die in the fire of the spirit15 This passage contains a theme found throughout Ivanov's work. to help them to forget In dreams the straight and solid purpose of existence. their resurrection-as culture vaguely knows even now. The culture he defends is one in which man reclaims "Primal
Memory" and finds access to the spirit. the restoration of spiritual life to man's daily life. and being slavesSo that their days may pass in noise and fretting And sensuality. And governing. war. While in his desert The savage roams despondent. nor does the man who succumbs to the lure of oblivion and "simplifies" himself into the likeness of a savage. The way man must follow is an ever-clearer consciousness of himself as a "God-forgotten. Art. According to Ivanov. he is dejected and sad. creative freedom. man has always been able to ascend to the "more real'' world above the material one. hollow freedom. Ivanov's use of the word "culture" is neither positive nor negative.16
15~vanov Genhenzon. Those who forget their ancestry are runaways or manumitted slaves. active." He has trouble remembering his primogeniture. of course. The savage finds no joy in his pointless freedom. "A Corner-to-ComerCorrespondence"398-399. his description of this culture is reminiscent of the ant-like kul'fura described by Blok. He shares Prometheus' critical view of present culture's ills.
the 'second sense' of The Rite of Spring plunged it down beneath. suggesting the prehuman or subhuman reality that civilized consciousness cloaks but does not replace. "So where Scriabin's occultism sought to elevate human consciousness above the human plane. 1 8 ~ a n i e lAlbright. then." Taruskin.
understands the ballet strictly from his own western framework. As I will demonstrate in Chapter IV. 1989) 14. The
bearskin-clad dancers demonstrate that "the ballet consisted of men so primitive that they were themselves half-bears. mortals and gods. musical analysis that supports one framework-the Scythian-like destruction of western musical traditions-can ritualized venturing into chaos as a
also support another framework-man's
means of h s salvation." or transport them to an animal-like oblivion.
17~awkin states. before sexual differentiation. male and female. The ritual is not the glorification of the terrible powers of the universe that can transform
humans into "subhuman. when it is still only a provisional manifestation of nature. The Music Box and the Nightingale (New York: Gordon & Breach. This second framework reflects ideas expressed by i Roerich and Stravinsky before the ballet's premike.17 Daniel Albright. this framework was shared by Roerich
and Stravinsky and communicated to Nijinsky when he joined the
coilaboration. concerns the human race before it has become human. it is not contaminated by events surrounding the riotous first performance or by subsequent history.Taruskin's real contribution lies in his analysis of Stravinsky's music. but as I will point out in Chapter W ."18 The ritual synthesis of
man and nature.ll too often assumed. as
many critics have a. Defining Russia Musically 379. for example.
One must understand the nature of ecstatic ritual in order to
comprehend the religious framework of The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky. cosmos and chaos is
seen by Albright as evidence that The Rite o Spring is about the subhuman: f
The Rite of Spring.
the glorification of the universal spirit that
underlay his work."20 does not take into account Roerich's famed role as a myth-maker. . Taruskin and others m s the point that the goal of this ritual was to is transcend the individual.
. While it is plausible. The Rite of Spring depicts the pre-human. to achieve a collective consciousness or sobornost' and finally. These religious rituals were recognized by Russian intellectuals to be a essential aspect of n ancient civilizations. to experience a mystical oneness with the deity. It is strange that Stravinsky despised Disney's cartoon of this ballet. . Once we understand the importance of the past for movements of religious revival in turn-of-the-century Russia. " "the idea of a ballet about a maiden sacrifice would never have occurred to Roerich spontaneously. as Taruskin asserts. most importantly. and once we see the religious significance of works that appear on the surface to be merely nostalgic or ethnographic. Stravinsky 864. the conclusion of The Rife of Spring with a maiden's selfsacrifice should not seem out of place witJx either Roerich's or Stravinsky's ideas. the other part of his assertion. for he was too scrupulous a c o ~ o i s s e u r authentic of Slavonic antiquity. . his awareness of the universality of sacrificial rituals in ancient
cultures. in Fantasia (1940)-Stravinsky called it a "unresisting imbecility"-for by n making the action a minuet of dinosaurs and volcanoes Disney succeeded in eliminating the human presences that were always to some extent an embarrassment to the spectacle-19
Albright. Zo~aruskin. that the idea of a maiden's sacrifice came from Stravinsky as "someone steeped in the traditions and dich6s of the romantic musical theater. We must remember that Roerich was one of many artists
l 9 ~ 1 b r i g h t15. . . or..
Every form of life was sacred and there was no action that would not be linked with the worship of divine power as there would be no divine ritual which would not be a function of life and a necessity for existence. Novyi putr 9 (1903): 100-123. (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura. "0 teurgii" [On Theurgy].2' Ivanov's thorough study of the Hellenic cults
of Dionysus is a n excellent example of the attempt to heal modem culture. reconstruct in ourselves the spirit of that distant time. with heartfelt conviction.
damaged by individualism and rationalism. if we are able to sense how inseparably religion and daily life flowed together into a unified whole." The similarities between Ivanov's and Roerich's descrip-
tions of andent Life are immediately apparent. "Poeziia zagovorov i zaklinanii" m Poetry of Magic and e Spells].
In a 1905 essay. 22~iacheslav Ivanov. "Religiia Dionisa. .and intellectuals active in attempts to apply universal spiritual teachings to their endeavors. Konstantin Bal'rnont. There would be no separation between prayer and the stewardship of everyday
21~eefor example. Sobranie sochmenii 8 vols. with a return to ecstatic ritual. Iar': Stikhi liricheskie i liro-epicheskie [Iart: Lyric and Lyro-epic verses] (St. Zhar-ptitsa [The Fireb ird] (Moscow : Skorpion. Poeziin kak oolshebstoo poetry as Magic] (Moscow: Skorpion. Alexander Blok. Ee proiskhozhdenie i vliianiia." Voprosy zhizni June 1905: 283-220.
Numerous essays and poems attest to the fact that ecstatic ritual was of great interest to the inteIligentsia. Petersburg. Sergei Gorodetsky. then we shall.
. Zelenyi oertograd [The Green Garden] (St.July (1905): 122-148.
Sacrifice in The Rite of Spring takes on an altogether different meaning
when it is put into the context of tun-of-the-century religious revival. Petersburg: Kruzho k molod. (1960-1963) 5: 3665. . Andrei Bely. 1907). 1907). 1909). this is an example of man possessing and
using the capacity for ascent that he referred to later in "A Comer-to-Comer
Correspondence.rkh." Ivanov sets forth his ideas about
the origin and nature of man's religious consciousness as evidenced in the
early cults of Dionysus.22 Ivanov describes ancient man's connection to
religion at every moment of his life.Ivanov writes:
. 1915). plus numerous essays and poems by Viac hes lav Ivanov. "The Religion of Dionysus.
.matters. Man's devoted companions. Everything. sat as members of the household at all of his meals. 6 24~vanov. the illusiory nature of each individual. not to live in a god-pleasing way meant not to Live at all. The awareness of one's own "I" outside of its individual boundaries incites the individual to a negation of itself and to a crossing over to the
23~vanov. he surrenders completely to the whole community just as the community surrenders to the chaos: In religion one needs a presentiment of the unity of the individual with everything that is outside him. countless dangers. but as the last four lines indicate. ceaseless threats both mysterious and manifest-all of this made his life a race along the edge of the abyss."Religiia" 6: 195-196. ." In ritual ecstasy the individual abandons consciousness of himself
as a separate individual. And in the ocean roused to fury Among the tempestuous waves and stormy darkness."Z3 The synthesis of religion and daily life was absolutely necessary because man's existence was filled with danger: Fear of death and fear of fate. "there is ecstasy
in battle. And in the Arabian hurricane And in the plague's breath. the deity was inseparable from man and was like his own relative. everything was "full of gods. the helplessness and uncertainty of mortal existence. the hostility of natural and supernatural forces. And on the edge of the gloomy abyss. man must engage the chaos of the abyss in order to have access to the mystery. his lord. HoweverThere is ecstasy in battle.
. Like a gigantic shadow. and his double. truly. .24
Man's existence was punctuated with ecstatic ritual in an attempt to appease
the terrors of the abyss. "Re[igiiaW : t 90. the gods. and through that. everything that threatens destruction conceals from the mortal heart inexplicable delightsPerhaps a pledge of immortality.
Early religion was orgiastic. it depended on the frenzied
rhythms of dance. See "Religiia" 7: 136-148. . To Ivanov the constant presence of both order and chaos is an essential antidote to the order imposed on m n s consciousness by his submission to a life governed entirely a' by reason:
25~vanov. man's religious consciousness originated
in ecstatic states. Ivanov describes the ways in which ritual leads man into the abyss. . "Religiia" 7: 143.
. 27~vanov. and song.26
First. . We must renounce ourselves and become ancient in spirit in order to restore the now diminished image of man. 26The concluding section of this article makes explicit ivanov's prescription for the revival of religion in modem times." the essence of dionysian ecstasy. but at the same time it protects him as it provides a "religious order" within the primordial chaos.
humanity will not ascend to high places from its contemporary low place if it does not become like ancient humanity. the tyranny of cosmos and [the tyranny] of order in everything down to the very bottom has transformed our internal primordial chaos.25 While Ivanovfs essay is a detailed investigation of the history and influence of the cult of Dionysus. . "Relieiia" 7: 138. suggestions of rhythm rush past like a light ripple along the surface of our soul and the expressiveness and increasing intensity of the music barely keeps pace with our proportionately increasing power of resistance to its orgiastic magic. incantation. he draws conclusions about the nature of religion and religious experience that provide direction for the spiritual remaking of modem
man."not I. . This consciousness is the very origin of every mysticism.27
The past is vital for modem man because.
priest. intuitively perceived. whom he held as an nin
2 9 ~ Ivanov.30 This is antinomy. 30~vanov." Nooyi put' 2 (1904): 59."29
In ecstatic ritual all distinctions disappear: between spectator and
Myths figured prominently in Ivanov's discussion of ancient
religion. Russian Symbolism 76-88 for a discussion of the function of myth in Ivanov's theories. a mystical union that insures
n fertility and abundance i the coming season."Religiia" 6: 214.Ivanov wrote. myths were quite separate from the Limited
truths made known by science and empirical reason. 31~ee West. myths inspired writers and painters
in large part because they were evidence that mortals and gods were in active
contact. they externalize human experience and give man a way to
n collectively understand his place i the divine world (realiora). between victim
and the deity. cosmos
and chaos. between participant. and the music all support this concept. that hold the constant potential of either sustaining life or destroying it. Not only did Ivanov
analyze the myths and rituals of the a c e t Greeks. but the thirst for synthesis. the costumes. .
In the context of religious revival.
. if momentary. The scene. "Elinskaia religiia stradaiushchego boga. It will become dearer below that in this context The Rite of Spring
can be seen as a ritual aimed toward maintaining the balance between man
and the elements. matter and spirit. both natural and supernatural.3
presented an alternative way of knowing. "what draws our minds to the pagan pole of our dualistic culture is not the romantic dreamer's nostaZgie du passe. man and god. the
choreography. synthesis of polar opposites-male and female. The sacrificial victim becomes the "bride" of the sun god Yarilo. the absolute. They were a revelation of ultimate reality. and sacrificial victim.
. Quoted from West. . . overcoming too the "Euclidean mind". .example of people who lived in a "wholeness of spirit. and glimpsing the faces of the divine. . . . . and indeed it is already sprouting from the subterranean roots of popular language." but he promoted modern mythmaking (rnifotoorchestno). The artist imperceptibly widens our horizons in harmony with the whole elemental striving of the s o d of the people. . . Alexander Scriabin saw his role along just such lines. Petersburg.Through the strata of contemporary knowledge.
whom he sees as bearing a dose connection to the collective soul. the drama for music.32
The aspiration to a synthesis of the arts and the desire for the spiritual union of those who participate in the artistic act or celebration are essential in this view of art. the theatre strives to unite in one "action" the whole crowd gathered for the celebration. Overcoming individualism as an abstract principle. 1909) 226. (St. Through the overlying layer of everyday speech. At any stage in his history man is capable of living his life fully engaged with the divine world. and Action. first published in the journal Zolotoe runo 5 (1907). Thus art looks towards the sources of the soul of the people. . and the arts have an essential role in facilitating this process. The article is the transcript of a public Lecture. . 244.
m a d a m . (poetic] hl knowledge is destined to surge up in a c i l spring from the depths of the subconscious. the language of poetry+ur language--must send forth shoots. . . . Russian Symbolism 70-71. architecture craves public gatheringplaces. Myth. Stat'i i aforizmy. through his association with the philosopher Sergei Trubetskoy and regular attendance at the Moscow Religious-Philosophical
3 2 ~ Ivanov. . ." Po . . Painting craves frescoes. Through his study of Solov'ev. "0 veselom remesle. music calls for the chorus and the drama. [poetry] engraves upon its hipod the words: Chorus. a task especially suited to artists. Artists can
facilitate the return of art to its original sacred function in ritual:
A true talent cannot help but express the ultimate depths of the consciousness of his age. .
N. unfinished work. Scriabin. 6. Scriabin's entire literary output was published posthumously. "may be described as a dream of the unification of mankind in a single instant of ecstatic
re~elation. 1987) 103. 6 vols. the Mysterium. he lost his inner unity. See "Zapisi A.120-247. Berkeley: de UCP." Nineteenth Centuy Music 3 (1979):42-52. through his friendship with Russian mystical symbolists. "Skriabin and an Russian 'Mystic' Symbolism. 'a young unknown philosopher-musician-poe t. the Mys teriu rn promised to restore the integrity of self-unity. Skriabina.
the force of miraculous and boundless love. Scriabin created art that was directed toward the transformation of mankind through ecstatic ritua1. but he became b h d . several drafts. 36~ch~oezer 161." Russkie propilei. (Moscow: Sabashnikov.33 Scriabin's scant writings and the memoirs of his dose friends reveal the constancy of his vision throughout his short career."3~ Boris de Schloezer's description of Scriabin's artistic impulse
echoes the attitude of many members of the creative intelligentsia: To a man divided within himself. both in prose and poetry."35
Scriabin's final. Gershenzon.34
The outline of a early. It was based on the myth of Eros and Psyche: "The hero. for Le p o h e de I'extase ( P a m ekstnza). through his immersion in theosophical texts and periodicals. wrestling with himself. For man had once aossessed innocence. It included an unfinished libretto in verse for an opera. and integrity." and two drafts of the text for the Prefatory Action (Predvnn'tel'noe deistuie). As soon as he developed consciousness of himself. 34~oris Schloezer. 2919) vol. Artist and Mystic. including a "poem of orgy. ed. and the might of wisdom. Nicholas Slonimsky (1923. The task of the Mysterium was to recreate this unity in the light of
3 3 ~ o r overview of Scriabin's intellectual biography see Malcom Brown. 35~rown 45-46. n
unfinished opera seems to encapsulate his life. trans. deprived of immediacy and pristine innocence by a intensified n self-consciousness. and through his own intuition. M.Society. for him art was synonymous with spiritual transfiguration.
.' promises to transfigure mankind through the power of celestial harmonies. sincerity.
M." Slavonic and Westem Music. Malcom Hamrick Brown and Roland John Wiley (Ann Arbor: UMI Research P. he attended many of the lectures. as he began to envision it
37~chloezer 190. Petersburg in 1909 and his return to Moscow in 1910. eds. "Alexander Skriabin and the Russian Renaissance. P. recalls Scriabin's early description of The Prefatory Action. Cooper's essay is a fairly well-informed. Tompakov (Moscow: Muzyka. 39~artin Cooper. He would then be clarified to himself.N. They both emphasize the transcendence of the individual through this ritual. and after 1909
they formed a dose friendship. Bely. Merezhkovsky. (Acfe priulable) or preliminary to the Mysterium. so that man could acquire wisdom and knowledge of himself and yet preserve his innocence. ~ ~ Scriabin was well acquainted with Ivanov's writings. but biased account: he provides useful details surrounding this period. and all participants will achieve a spiritual collectivity. are recorded in detail in Letopis' zhizni i toorchestva A.
art exhibits. Scriabin's dose friend from 1910 until the composer's death. and literary discussions of aesthetic and philosophical matters
that were sponsored by the Moscow Literary-Artistic Circle and the Society of
Free aesthetic^. Leonid Sabaneev. Scriabin was active in musical and intellectual circles. he portrays ideas and movements as distinct and compartmentalized.^^ The writers who most dosely associated with him were Briusov. and I v a n ~ v . B a y s for Gerald Abraham. 38~rown Scriabin spent most of his time in Europe between 1904-1909. Scriabin's activities 47. musicales. and he ultimately marginalizes the theurgists.consciousness. 1985). ed.
. 1985) 235. all will become participants. while retaining his sincerity and integrity? Following the Russian premiere of Le poPme de Z'exfase in St. Skriabina. Priashnikov and 0. but he betrays a condescending attitude toward mysticism. The parallels in their philosophy of art are
clear: both studied the ancient Eleusinian mysteries and understood the necessity of reviving this ancient way of knowing in a modem form of ritual. Bal'mont. Baltrushaitis. M.
It will be a colledive (sobornyi) creation. . and
not by their negation or forcible unification-a Imagery i Scriabin's poetic text to Le P o h e de I'extase reveals the necessity n of conflict and contradictions. ." is attracted to and derives energy from its negation. to call up extreme discord in his soul. at the end of a long analysis of Saiabin's philosophy and a t
Lapshin puts Scriabin in the very landscape Ivanov used i his description of n
primitive man's dangerous existence: Scriabin loves to walk along the edge of the abyss. 32Sch loezer 63. a coIlective act.There will be no question of the individual in the Mystery. Lapshin. It will be as one all-embracing. 1925) 150." Khudozhestoennoe tuorchestuo (Petrograd: Mysl. quoted above. quoted in Brown 49. Vosporninaniia o Skriizbine (Moscow. I. 1922) 325. . poraries as well. The spirit. like the sun n refracted i a thousand droplets of water. tvanovrsdescription is from "Religiia Dionisa" 195-196. "pinioned on its thirst for life. 41~.
*teonid Sabaneev. multi-faceted individuality.* The parallels i Ivanov's and Saiabin's ideas were dear to their contemn r.
. the dark chasm:
In the wondrous sublimity Of pure aimlessness And i the collision n Of counter-aspirations. "Zavetnye dumy Skriabina. When he was writing Le P o h e de I'extase. he already realized that oneness could be attained only by deepening and sharpening contradictions. the disharmony of the soul is reconciled i a higher n synthesis when it seems we were just a hair's breadth from falling into the abyss31 Scriabinfs ideas reflect his theosophical and neo-Platonic world view. concordia discors is realized. Schloezer wrote:
[Suiabin's] ideology was essentially a theory of oneness and the
means by which it could be achieved. where mystical enlightenment is achieved through the seemingly impossible
reconciliation of opposites. When it seems that the last harmony of the spiritual elements is destroyed.
. "Pevets ekstaza-A.
emotional essence of music. syncopation and broken rhythm.In a common consciousness.
." Musical Times 113 (1972):26. 45Alexander Scriabin."45
In a speech delivered to the Moscow Scriabin Society." Ivanov also describes the ecstatic effect of Scriabin's music. In an article first published in
1910 he analyzes the "toolsrr Scriabin uses in achieving musical ecstasy:
chromaticism. written in 1906 to accompany Le P o h e de I'extase: Ecstasy is the supreme synthesis of a new world. and the bites of panthers and hyenas have become but a new caress. To summon from the depths of the soul the most forbidden and contradictory desires and. Scryabin. the
4 3 ~ l e x a n d e rScriabin. "The National
and the Universal in Scriabin's Work (Suiabin as a Nationalist Composer)." K muzykal'nomu ideal11 (Petrograd. "Poema ekstaza. And eternity resounds with the joyous cry. "I
am. to take pleasure in their ultimate n reconciliation i miraculous harmony: the unending surge of free will and heavenly power-this is ecstasy. 4 4 ~ l e x a n d e rKoptiaev.43 The composer and critic Alexander Koptiaev recognized the relationship of Scriabin's music to his ideas. and the sting of the serpent [is] but a burning kiss. summoned into Life by the mighty will of the artist. 2916) 204-205. It understands That it desires battle. that which terrified is now delight."Words and Music by A. Skriabin. full orchestration. To Ivanov. and the
shuggle against the force of traditional cadences that restrict the elemental." quoted in Koptiaev 209. As a supreme synthesis [ecstasy] is able to extricate pleasure from evil: that which threatened is now excitation. a new torment. In a common love The spirit perceives The nature of Its divine essence." trans. "Poem of Ecstasy. Hugh Macdonald.44 He concludes his article with Scriabin's own definition of ecstasy. quoted in Hugh MacdonaId. after a battle.
while the melody embodies o r d e r 9 As evidenced in this lecture and in several other essays dedicated to the composer. then.
In this way
46~iacheslav Ivanov. The Russian genius." Pamiatniki kul'tury: h y e otkytih 1983 (Leningrad: Nau ka. 3 (Brussels: Foyer Oriental Chretien. Like the ancient Greek pagan priests. Ivanov believes that the
desacralization of western music has resulted in empty. (Brussels: Foyer Oriental Chretien.47 According to Ivanov." Sobranie sochinenii. "despotic" f o r m 9 Ivanov celebrates Scriabin because his music embodies the solution to the problem that has plagued music-and philosophy-since
the beginning of
time: the problem of order and freedom. the first anniversary of Scriabin's death. M~vanov. but still distinct hypostases of one world-creating being. Apollo and Dionysus il together. Like two inseparable. and "Vzgliad Skriabina na iskusstvo. but is careful to put this "nationalism" in the context developed by h i m s e l f and other "nationalist" philosophers: Russians have the special gLft of being able to reconcile reason
and belief. The speech was delivered on April 14. has succeeded in reconding these opposing forces: This reconciliation was primarily the work of the Delphic priesthood. vol. "Natsional'noe" 102. Suiabin. "Natsional'noe i vselenskoe v hrorcheshre Skriabina (Skriabin kak natsional'nyi kompositor). V~vanov.failure of the West that is apparent in its rationalism and i its adherence to n order at all costs is also apparent in its music." Sobrunie sochinmii. 49See "Skriabin i dukh revoliutsii. vol. 1985) 98. 1985) 203-1 25. Scriabin's harmony embodies freedom or chaos. cosmos and chaos.
. Both articles along with a speech delivered before a memorial concert in 1919 are reprinted in Parnintniki kul'tury: Nonye otkytiin 1983 (Leningrad: Nauka. the spiritual-legal body representing by their authority the divine wl of both brothers. transcends the
national as it looks toward the salvation of all mankind."Natsional'noe" 101. 1979) 171-189. 3.1916. 1979) 190-194. Suiabin represents to Ivanov the ideal artist-priest whose successes have implications far broader than the realm of music? Ivanov links Scriabin's genius to s o m e k g particularly
Russian He calls Scriabin a "national" composer.
kin. He examines how Scriabin's harmony induces "a quality of
He hovering. tantalizingly glimpsed and tasted in advance."
Perhaps Scriabin is singular in the sense that he succeeded in producing art that communicated the essence of his mysticism. 52~aruskin. . an agonizingly prolonged structural anacrusis that at the very last moment achieves cataclysmic resolution/consumrnation. . understands that Scriabin's mysticism is an integral part of his
music and therefore analyzes the music to discover how these ideas are manifested. of time-forgetful stasis. and a crushingly asserted tonic."5~ discusses the composer's elaborate methods of delaying harmonic resolution
oaiy by prolonging ambiguities of t n l t and by the use of dissonance. .
50~aruskin's technical analysis of Scriabin's music in Chapter 13 of D e n i n g Russia Musically
integrates the composer's mystical ideas with his stylistic development. . Taruskin gives a summary documentation of the dismissal of Scriabin's mysticism since ca.Scriabin's "national" talent is messianic and universal. scholars have once again realized that his mysticism is inseparable from his music. it is the interaction between two planes of consciousness. He gave music a new language. and they are exploring this relationship instead of sweeping the embarrassment of Scriabin's beliefs (some would call it his madness) under the rugs0 Taruskin. graded and variegated dominant that in its ceaseless flux and nuance is almost palpably sensuous. what Roerich would
call pan-human. 1930. 51~arus Defining Russia Musically 330-331. Defining Russia Musically 336. Taruskin concludes:
. The functional relationships in the P o h e de I'extase are thus reduced to a single essential dualism: an almost infinitely extended.
for example. and after a hiatus of some f&y years. altered consciousness. Speaking
of Le P o k e de I'extase. . Indeed the dualism is more than just a harmonic functional relationship. but for the most part withheld. or tran~e. Scriabin's symphony consists in most general terms of a single fundamental gesture.
1912: 5. (Montreal & Kingston: McCill-Queen's UP. Scriabin was not singular in the realm of ideas. quoted in Krasovskaia 2: 432.55 Below I will demonstrate the widespread and
open interest in religious mysticism in Stravinsky's and Roerich's Russia. 1980)." Birzheoye vedomosti 25 Sept. Roerich was as much 1
a mystic as he was a archeologist and ethnographer. including Ivanov. recent
scholarship is reversing the trend of dismissing or completely ignoring
un various manifestations of the occult in the arts a t the t r of the century. sensationalize the account.S. (Cambridge. Dvinskii. H . "No ReZigion Higher than Truth. Eliot. 2953) 150-154. Cross. T. NichoIas Roerich" begins with the words. 55~ee. the entry for the year 1071 in The Russian Primary Chronicle: Lnurmtian . For a discussion of this account see Russell Zguta. 1993). This alone is sufficient grounds to take
Stravinsky's words at face value when in a 1912 interview he refers to Le
Sucre du Printemps as a mysterium and a c h ~ r e o d r a m a .'' Richard Taruskin's chapter on Scriabin in Dening Russia Musically. "Mysticism and Money. a fact that could not n
have been hidden from Stravinsky. Williams. not at all unlike accounts of
pagan practices told from a hostile point of view in The Russian Primary
Chronicle. k t . where pagan priests (oolkh.
Where scholarship once had the tone of expose. and Stravinsky.State Department records. Chapter 1.for example.oy) conduct a ritual "stabbing" of the most distinguished women of Rostov. in fact. See M. Christian &ronicIers.S. a ritual against k i n e . M A : Haward UP. His concerns mirrored those of numerous other intellectuals. The Birth of Modemism: Ezra Pound. ed. W.
.B. See also note 8. A modem equivalent of this kind of hostite account can be found in Robert C. Roerich. Russian Art and American Money 1900-1940 (Cambridge.While he may appear a unique genius in the world of music. looking for ammunition against the still active pagan priesthood. 5 4 ~ e e for example. "U Igoria Stravinskogo.54 there is now serious scholarly investigation of the imagery and influence of the occult evidenced in the works of many artists of this period
in Russia and elsewhere. Yeats and the Occult.
As I have demonstrated above and in Chapter 1 . "Nicholas Roerich always saw a close connection between art and money" (111). "The Pagan Priests of Early Russia: Some New Insights. Maria Carison's study of Russian Theosophy. and Leon Surette. concealing that it was.
53~travinsky'swords are taken from an interview in S t Petenburg. S. It appears that Williams' major source was U." Shvic Revim33(1974): 259-266. MA. ~ ~ In addition.
An apocalyptic movement called mystical
anarchism developed after the Revolution of 1905. and participatory theater where.' to make holy and to become holy. . ". they experimented with theater as ritual. "Theatre as Church" 128-1 29. "Theatre as Church: The Vision of the Mystical Anarchists. Dionysus. too.56 The social ideal was sobornost'. to attract the divine presence and to receive the divine @-a and a 'goal pathetic and passive. the movement was eclectic. Intellectuals envisioned a new theater that could take over the psychological and social functions formerly served by religion." Slavic Rmiew 36 (1977): 608-624. and Bernice Rosenthal. each participant in the rites had a dual role: to partidpate in the 'orgy of action' and the 'orgy of purification. At the t r of the century un there was a preoccupation with restoring the original religious function of theater as a potential solution to the problem of man's fragmented Life. 57~osenthal. was part of this movement. One can see the attempt to put into contemporary practice the conclusions Ivanov reached in his studies of the cults of Dionysus. and the World Soul was
'goal theurgic and active'
5 6 ~ o a detailed discussion of the development and theories of the mystical anarchists see r Bernice Rosenthal. theater as religion. theater as transformation. theater as a d y i n g force in avilization. sought a broader 'religious synthesis of Life' and based their vague concepts of 'religious activity' and 'mystical experience' on a kind of pantheism in which the relation of Christ. "The Transmutation of the Symbolist Ethos: Mystical Anarchism and the Revohtion of 1905. ." Russian History 4. "The mystical anarchists.Theater.2 (1977): 122-141. .'"57 Characteristic of the times. discussed above. . it exemplifies the impulse
to create a new culture and a new society in which alienation would be transcended and conflict resolved. society would be ruled by aesthetic and religious principles including collective creativity.
The Golden Fleece (Zolofoe rzlno). And in the name of this new life to come we. Ivanovfs Wednesday "salons. amid the urgent questions raised by our time. seethes the rebirth of Me. We are in sympathy with a l l who work for the rebirth of life. for many.
however. provided a forum for discussing mystical
anarchism among other topics of current interest-59
In 1906 a Moscow art journal. it proposes a healing role for art:
We embark on our path at a formidable time. but those plans were never realized. fades and passes away.
5 9 ~ oar description of ivanov's salon see V. on that which cannot be rejected.not at all dear. the seekers of the Golden Fleece. after university reforms following the Revolution of 1905. like a raging whirlpool. Around us. although in a more avantgarde direction. 1986). the principal theorists of mystical anarchism. the reflection of the Eternal i the temporal. They were. began
. were able to lecture frequently to large audiences of
students and young workers. able to spread their ideas. we believe that we must preserve for them the Eternal values forged by many generations. n
58~osenthal. The preface to the first issue reflects an attitude similar to
that held by the mystical anarchists. amid the bloody answers provided by our Russian reality. we renounce no task of our contemporaneity. New York: Orfey. one that is illumined by the sun and induced by tireless search. A r t is symbolic for it bears within it the symbol. that together with our institutions we must attain a free and brilliant art for our descendants. but we believe that life without Beauty is impossible. Transmutation" "The
623. Vstrechi (1929. taking up where Mir iskusstva left off. Art is whole for its single source is the soul. In the thunder of the fight. Georgii Chukov and Ivanov." a focal point of
the S t Petersburg intelligentsia. unfurl our banner: A r f is eternal for it is founded on the intransient. the Eternal."58 The mystical anarchists had planned to stage ancient myths
in a Theater of Dionysus.
outbursts of pure feeling. the mass action of the entire corps de ballet." clearly Benois' o w n voice. the balletomane responds. in dance they were replaced
by the "expressive omnipotence of the body.. ed. Quoted in to John E. one of the mastering of oneself in the expression of simple emotions.60
The idea that art is deeply c o ~ e c t e d religion was not confined to to
groups that could be considered marginal or extremist Ballet was also caught up in retrospectivism which manifested itself. (New York: Knopf. gestures. Theory and Criticism (New York: Thanes and Hudson. Straoinsky: Selected Correspondence 3 voIs." Robert Craft." debates the future of ballet with "the artist. one of the control of the body in all the nuances of time and space.
"the balletomane. It is an art of sacrifice that requires in addition a special technique. 1 (1906). Benois wrote n
"A Conversation about Ballet" (Beseda o balete). As soon as the situation demands poses. a method for integrating the rhythms of music into bodily movement. In early 2913 he wrote to Stravinsky.
. The artist's arguments are not new to the balletomane.
sobornost '. attributed to the editor.
I a 1908 volume of essays dedicated to the new theater. 2 982-1985) 2: 78. Is it not possible to discuss art without touching on theological
60~reface Zofotoe mno.135
Art is kee for it is created by the free impulse of creation. and trans. when he speaks of ballet's liturgical quality. Bowlt. recognized Russian dancers' contribution to "new" ballet. the dancers are as admirable as can be. Russian Art of the Avant Gnrde. As in the other arts. "What is necessary to create a consummate work of art is an intimate coupling of [plastique in motion] with [expressive dance music]. in large part. where the voice of tradition. 61~rnile Jacques-Dalcroze. Swiss movement theorist and originator of eurhythmics. Nikolai Riabushinsky. and the use of choreodrama. As soon as-in the Russian ballet-the sacrosanct frenzy of movement intervenes. 1991)8. in a turn toward hellenism and re-infusing dance with religious spirit. the conventional ballet technique paraIyzes the emotions and substitutes virtuosity for the spontaneous externalization of inner states. the conventions of the academy were challenged. "I knew you would bring up liturgy."61 the exploration of dance
traditions other than western European. God. a natural one. its power to express without words.
Benois is careful to add that this divine truth must also include the truth of Slavic myth. . Further references to "Beseda o balete" in this section will be given in the text. encroaching industry (1
Benois' vision of new ballet was not wishful thinking. and our one and only God . From the very moment of this selection a temple and liturgical service are created. . The priests continue to delight in their own actions. he described ideas that were widely practiced. [E]verything comes from God. and ancient Rust. . dance. and Aphrodite. We must give heartfelt thanks to the divine presence for bestowing this supernatural joy (109). and Hermes.. a high art on the level of
embodies the diversity of ancient Olympus. especially at a time when c o ~ e c t i o n s it are threatened by to
14). . . and Cronus. that results from the prayerful ecstasy of the entire audience. "Beseda o balete. . and Eros (109-110). but at the same time they are lifted and carried by a particular mood. Fokine staged "The Evening of Terpsichore" at the Mariinsky Theater in 1908. Kniga o nooom teatre (St. Our God is not only Zeus. . and Dionysus. Ballet is about divine truth:
A selection of artists [dancers] creates a theater. present. . setting apart these priests from the masses of the devout.
. in the publicity he described a program of "dances of the past. Benois couches his description of the new
ballet entirely in the context of religion. and Ares. Rome.question^?"^^ Indeed it is not. Greece.has a role to play in the remaking of the theater into a temple of a
religion far broader than conventional Orthodoxy:
. k 1908) 104. and future" including dances from ancient Egypt. but Apollo. . Benois explains that in the temple of the ballet theater dancers become priests who make possible the powerful unity of ail present. as well as dances in the style of Isadora
62~leksandr n u a . ." Teatr. Petersburg: Shipovnik.
measured farandole (a spirited circle dance)
no and transformed it i t "an orgiastic round-dance. [a response] to symbolist
'communality' in a theater that united performer and audience in dionysian ecstasy. once again meeting and again. . struggling.67
631nterview by "Teatal. 64~ndre Levinson.. outrunning. conquering and drawing everything with it. tangible beauty-a museum recollections. "Tantsy v 'Kniaze igore. and only the circumstances of its reimportation to France forced it to become truly Russian. when a l the lines of this severe design blend l into one no less well-formed. one jumping across another-everyone . onto the square. the street.
.~uncm.Russian ballet before Firebird (1910) was actually French.
Duncan's dances were received as ancient artifacts by a public that preferred to ignore their implausible authenticity and the fact that Duncan preferred to
discuss them as dances of the future. quoted in Tim Scholl From Petipa to Balanchine. quoted in Schol152. If the curtain had been delayed for a second. "64 cult nourished on beautiful
Realism and historical authenticity were replaced This same critic commented that
by imagined worlds and new myths. This evidence refutes Taruskin's statement that ".
.."66 One reviewer wrote: Here is the finale.65
Fokine's boisterous choreography of the Polovtsian dances in Prince
Igor (1909) took the traditional. . seizing. with more furious rejoicing. quoted in Scholl 65. whose banner is bodily freedom. "From Firebird to The Rite: Folk Elements in Stravinsky's Scores.63Her
dance was viewed by one critic as "coincid[ing] with the rather
simpIified and vulgarized hellenism of our day. 65~choll 52. renewing their assault."' Apollon 1 (1909):30.. al running in streams of complex figures." Peterburgshin gazeta 21 January 1908: 4. 66~cho11 65." Richard Taruskin. crashing the footlights. Classical Revival and the Modernization o Ballet (New York: f Routledge." Ballet Reuiezu 10 (Summer 1982): 74." Apollon 8 (1911): 43. rushing the h l with a thunder. the cult of plastic. a stream. 1994) 54. "0 novom balete. it seemed that it couldn't have held and would have torn out into the hall. overtaking. 67~ergei Auslender.
The discussion of mystery plays that follows is based on Kalbouss 23-26. 7 1 ~ erge Ka lbouss.
. Sergei Vokonsky
wrote i Apollon: n
Le Same dn Prinfemps isn't a "ballet. "Russ kii balet v Parizhe. In a 1902
article "The Forms of Art. When drama draws near to the mystery play. that is. 31-56. There was considerable public interest in the past as evidenced in Petersburg charity balls on classical and neoclassical themes.68
This retrospectivism spread beyond the dance stage. They were seen as original form of drama. then will it inevitably descend from the stage and move out into life. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich. Do we not see in this an inkling of the transfiguration of life into a mystery play? Are people not
%ergei Volkonsky. drama is destined to return to it. The Plays of the Russian Symbolists (East Lansing: Russian Language o Journal.70 In the years between 1890 and 1917 one hundred eighty plays that can
be linked to the Russian symbolist tradition were published in Russian art
and literary joumaIs." ApoNon (1913):72.69 The ball held at the Winter Palace to mark the bicentenary of the founding of St. quoted in M o l l 75. an ancient ceremonial rite." Bely writes: Drama emerged out of the mystery play.
a form of religious worship that was integrated with daily life.7~ Mystery plays were an important part of this dramatic
Literature. Nicholas II wore the costume of Peter 1's father. 1982) n. pag. Nothing could be less appropriate to prepare one for this spectacle than the word "ballet" and all the associations it carries with it. 70~ee Kirichen ko 258-259 for photographs. Petersburg was attended by guests clad in rich costumes of late Muscovite Russia." It is a ritual. returns to it. although they proved far more interesting and important in theory
than they were in practice.In Russia the idea of new theater based on dionysian ritual was so widespread that the concept of Vesna sviashchennnin was quite dear. 69~choll 54.
"The only way for the resurrection lies in the spectator becoming a participant in the mystery. phenomenal world through the imagery of poetry. -'f73 The stage was intentionally artificial. quoted in Kalbouss 19. quoted in Kalbouss n. through the liturgical rite. Mystery plays were undramatic and pretentious with their poetic language. Petersburg: Shipovni k. they were often unsuccessful. "Formy iskusstva." Teatr.
In his survey of Russian symboList drama George Kalbouss states. i Bugaev is better known by his pseudonym Andrei Bely. . This does not
72~oris Bugaev. although they contributed to the overall experiment in theater. Fyodor Sologub's article "Theater of One Will" (Teatr odnoi voli) is an attempt to apply his concept of the Platonic universe to stage practice. noumenal world is revealed to the real. 1908) 185. By 1908 symbolist drama was moving away from the mystery play to other forms of experimental theater. ss
. symbolism had found a place in the theatrical repert0ire. they attended cabaret-type performances instead. The drama reveals the presence of the all-knowing "I" or "world will" to all of the participants through ritual and liturgy. 7 4 ~ a ~ b o u12. 73~yodor Sologub.pag. ."~4 Kalbouss states that experimental theatre did not attract large audiences. in short.preparing themselves right now to participate in some kind of multi-colored mystery?72 Mystery plays also depicted a neo-Platonic universe where the ideal. "Teatr odnoi voli. "By 1906.
The central moment of the mystery play is usually
associated with a communion ritual with the other world.
ritualistic and non-representational theatre was no longer regarded strange or threatening. often presenting a stylized two dimensionality. kniga o nooom teahe (St." M r iskusstua 8 (1902): 360.
and it encouraged discussions on a wide if esoteric range of issues. . hosted many important cultural events during its brief active life (1911-1915). commissioned lectures and recitations.We recall Maria carlson's observation: The Russian Spiritualist journal Rebzts reported in 1906 that "according to our correspondent. the French magic revival." . Balmont. Neo-Platonism. People knew about these things. however. The Stray Dog. Jacob Boehme. . The Stray Dog did not espouse the cause of the avant-garde as represented by Malevich and Tatlin.indicate an aversion to the ideas motivating symbolist theater.~~ John Bowlt also documents the wide range of esoteric topics that were discussed at cabarets and dubs: The St. cults. for example. . and the monks of Athos. Diaghilev. This movement embraces both the upper and lower levels of society. . including the Tarot. but it was at the head of Russian intellectual life and counted Anna Akhmatova. especially the Stray Dog and the Comedians' Halt. all of Petersburg is caught up in an unusually powerful mystical movement and at the moment a veritable maelstrom of little religions. . Alexandrian Christianity. .. even though they too were indebted to the new middle classes for financial support. ." They were at once more international and more provocative. Petersburg cabarets. public Spiritualist seances. . Every educated reader who was not a recluse had at least a nodding acquaintance with Theosophy and Spiritualism. gypsy fortune-tellers. even if their knowledge was based only on cafe gossip and sensational newspaper artides in Noooe Vren~in. And not only Petersburg was caught up in the trend. Admirers of Theosophy are uniting and are even beginning to discuss the question of building a Buddhist lamasery (a dormitory) and a Theosophic-Buddhist temple. Nikolai
. . and secret sectarian ecstasies (radeniia). . Among the upper levels we find the Theosophic-Buddhist trend. and Led debates and polemics on "hot issues. Moscow and the provinces buzzed with new secret societies. and sects has taken shape there. attracted prominent intellectuals from all disciplines. theosophy. demonstrations of hypnotism. Russian Orthodoxy.
he also lived in two rooms that he rented in Ivanov's apartment. Alexei Radakov. The ties that members of this constellation of artists and intellectuals had with one another and with "starss" not mentioned in this passage reveal the dose contact members of the creative intelligentsia had with one another." Vera met Stravinsky in 1921.Evreinov.
. Evgenii Lanc&ray. active member of the World o f Art society.. 1911-1912) indude
7 6 ~ o h nBowlt. Savelii Sorin and [Sergei] Sudeikin among its habitues. ed. and the pastorale.
In spite of this complication. the site of the "tower" evenings. symbolist painter. was married to Olga Glebova. The web of connections continued even into exile: Sudeikin later married Vera Bossett. Sudeikin began a homosexual affair with the poet Mikhail Kuzmin. Catherine. Kuzmin was closely associated with symbolist circles. The Salon Albom 13-14. who happened to be sharing their apartment. medieval morality plays. the year after their marriage. Their repertoire included Greek
tragedies. became his mistress and companion. Tamara Karsavina. Yet in 1908. For example. Glebova. 1995) xiii . and poetry readings. Sergei Sudeikin. The Salon Albom of Vera Sudeikin-Straoinsky (Princeton: Princeton U P. miracle plays. n~owlt. and in the years 1917-1920 they socialized with "leading representatives of Russian Symbolism and Cubo-Futurism. eventually marrying him in 1940 after the death of Stravinsky's wife. and trans.
Sudeikin. an enterprise that attempted to restore "pre-realistic" dramas
in their original settings and costumes. and Kuzmin continued to collaborate on plays. [Mikhail] Kuzmin. musical evenings.xiv. others
involved with the two seasons of this theater (1907-1908. Olga Glebova.76 The program of The Stray Dog reflects the eclecticism of the age. Pallada. and designer of several of Diaghilevfs Ballets Russes productions. Lanceray
was one of several World of Art artists connected with this theater. [Boris] Grigoriev.77 Nikolai Evreinov was one of the founders of The Antique Theater
professor at St. 79~aruskinf Dflning Russia Musically 400-401. Essayist. I.and early twentiethcentury messianic and religious philosophy discussed earlier in this chapter. "Not only these biographical circumstances but also many detailed and ideosyncratic ideological affinities identi+ Lev Karsavin as a thinker whose proto-Eurasianist 'ideocratic' impact on Stravinsky came early I11 enough to have affected both the conception [ 9 2 and realization of Suadebkn. ~ ~
Stravinsky had occasion to be familiar with Karsavin's messianic religious
philosophy during the period in which he worked on The Rife of Spring. 1984) 28-44." "The Dove." and "The King of the Stas" (Zuezdoliki).Benois. Roerich designed an eleventh century lyrical drama. and. 78 Tamara Karsavina was Diaghilev's first prima ballerina and sister of Lev Karsavin. and Ivanov. the khlysty and the skoptsy. Vlasova."
. This was not the only
7 8 ~ o r discussion of the activities of The Starinnyi Theater see R. Blok. historian of religious philosophy. Petersburg University. and the designers Dobuzhinsky and Bilibin. and he spent the spring of 1911 in close
association with the Karsavins before the Rome premigre of ~ e f r u s h k n . The Three Magi (Tri uolkhva). in later emigration. "elder statesman of the Eurasianis t movement. h s family lived in an apartment below i
the Karsavins in St. The Siluer Age 716-117. novelist and prolific poet. Russkoe a teatral'no-dekoratsionnoe iskusstvo nachala u ueka (Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR. and in 1911 he designed Lope de Vega's Fuente ovejuna. who was general artistic and historical consultant as well as designer. See also John E. Bal'mont influenced many other symbolist poets induding Bely. The last two poems are from Bal'montfs collection Zelenyi omtograd and are based on Russian spiritual verses and songs connected to Russian religious sects that practiced ecstatic ritual. In the early summer of 1911 Stravinsky set three of Bal'mont's poems to music. "The Forget-me-not. Bowlt. Taruskin writes. Petersburg.
Stravinsky knew both Karsavins well. for example. Bal'mont leads us to a n important connection with Stravinsky. in 1907." a movement derived from nineteenth.
in a song. " K h i y ~ t . . He used sectarian a' music and song in the final chorus of Khooanshchina (1913). inspired by and patterned on the apocalyptic songs of . Straninsky. thus Stravinsky could treat it as a simple. which." was appealing not because of its esoteric subtext but because "it
managed to h e this lurid sectarian vision with the long-standing tradition of Promethean 'fire poetry' that had always been a hallmark of Russian Symbolism. ."82 I this analysis Taruskin arbitrarily d e s out the possibility n that S t r a v h k y had anv interest in the esoteric aspects of these songs.. . "Sektantskaia" (1919) and in an incomplete work. . Straoinsky 789."~1 He continues that the poem Zoezdoliki. ed. and he identifies the source of Bal'mont's poems that Stravinsky probably used: twenty-one poems from the forthcoming
socraft. he concludes that it was simply the case that the songs were widely popular and lyrically appealing to numerous composers. . Taruskin brings together important information in his discussion of Bal'mont. "a masterpiece of eschatological imagery. In 1908 he composed "Mystic Song of the Ancient Russian Flagellants" (Khlystovskaia) based on one of Sergei Gorodetsky's poems from his collection fr. Like the radeniye [ecstatic ritual] itself. kin. he shows the textual relationship of Bal'mont's poem to khlyst songs published in 1861. .
. " ~ ~ According to
Balmont removed most of the overt religious content from ["The Dove"]. [the]
skoptsy. $l~arus Straoinsky 787. 82~aruskin. .time Stravinsky employed Russian sectarian verse. pretty lyric. gradually gathered momentum toward a blazing "vision of the end of the world and eternal gl0ry. Selected Correspondence 1: 421-422. The poem's relative "neutrality" was the result of its early appearance in Balmont's book.
which Taruskin himself recognizes as the chief organ of the Russian Symbolist press. First.
83~aruskin. cafes."85 does not stand up to the evidence. While Taruskin asserts that evidence does not support the assumption that "poets. The section "Bahont and Neonationalism" is on pages 780-791. The title [Zelenyi vertograd] itself was a clue. and not limited to groups too long perceived as marginal to
Russian culture. if we acknowledge the context of religious revival discussed above. Bowlt. and composers traveled one path.
and cabarets. s 85~aruskin. Gorodetsky's and Bal'mont's poems are acts of restoring the power of myth to contemporary Life. and others have documented. Stravinsky 784-785. Sraoinsky 784. . we can argue that these poems were popular precisely because they recreated ecstatic ritual. it is dearly wrong. . Petersburg.
The image of Stravinsky as somehow "aloof from avant-garde literary
circles. newspapers. for the word omtograd was not only an archaic poet's word for garden.D@ning Russia Musically 393. artists. Here Taruskin uses "avant-garde" in a general sense that includes theurgic symbolists. as Carlson. and especially the way they were addressed as a congregation by their prophet-evangelists. . . .83 Taruskin explains the "code" contained in various titles: "White Doves" was the name by which sectarians referred to one another. discussions of art and religion were everywhere in pre-war St. in journals. to whirl) -84 Once again Taruskin f d s to see the sigruhcance of the information he has so carefully gathered. However. These poets reshaped ancient spiritual poeby to create art that could provide a way for the spiritually impoverished intelligentsia to r e c o ~ e c t their lost. 8 4 ~ a r ukin.it was also what the "white doves" called the circle in which they whirled as the radeniye came to its dimax (from oertet'. nonto western roots. .volume Zelenyi uertograd were published in the September 1907 issue of Vesy.
" Mir iskusstva 1-2 (1899): 52. their art was left to turn i on itself."88 Bowltfs observation concerning the graphic and decorative art i The World of Art is n
also cited as evidence of the journal's emphasis on the forms of art:
The graphic expertise i the decorative pieces of these artists n might be seen. g g ~ u o t e d Taruskin. quoted in Taruskin. but rather that the journal did not promote any
8 6 ~ a r ukin. or "the theurgic strain o Russian symbolism." did not mean the
absence of social. as Taruskin suggests. color. mass. to manipulate to the fullest extent its own properties of line. as the result of their nonphilosophical approach to art. because without definite n ideological justification. and formalist. and above all. Straoinsky 784. a path that steers dear of the obstacles of utilitarianism
and messianism. "art is free. . s 8 7 ~ a r ukin. in broader terms. If Shavinsky were uninterested i "avant-garde" n literature." why would he open f a copy of Vesy. Life is fettered.Linked. s 8 8 ~ P. he sees both the journal The World o Art and the society named for it foIlowing an aesthetic path that is neodassical. Straoinsky 442. free. individualist. self-purposeful.89
The journal's motto. Straoinsky 780. Stravinsky 447. To support his view Taruskin quotes Diaghilevfs 1899
editorial statement. Apollonian. "The great strength o art lies precisely i the fact that it is f n self-sufficient. philosophical. "the chief organ of the Russian SymboList pressfWg7 then and find and be inspired by Bal'mont's poems printed there? Taruskin's argument draws unnecessary boundaries that create a false f impression. all fully conscious of each other's activity and joyously abetting it.Diagilev. religious."86
he often fails to interpret the sigruficance of evidence that he himself has
meticulously presented. self-referential. "Slozhnye voprosy. and ideological programs of any
gO The journal was deliberately eclectic. supporting basic principles of the European and Russian Symbolists: to attain the 'essencef of reality by
penetrating to the roots of natural. to
The retrospectivism of The World of Art was directed toward the rediscovery and appreciation of bygone cultures which were seen to offer a wholeness and harmony to a modem civilization in crisis. quoted in
Kharitonova 131. and the lack of artistic individuality in the art of the nineteenth-century peredvizhniki. and in the culture evidenced in popular myth and in the primordial state of
man. The efforts of Ivanov. Roerich. Filosofov made this observation in the journal Zolotoe run0 1 (1908): 71-72. 91~ee Bowlt. Scriabin. social program. organic cultures and hence to rediscover
the real force and potency of Life beneath the conventions of ~ivilization. 9 2 ~ o w ~The Silver Age 71. We must keep in mind that the first principle governing the aesthetic stance of The World of Arf was to promote a new Russian art in direct opposition to the realism. Bowlt's
f complete discussion of the World o Art aesthetic begins with this point and indudes the following tendencies: re trospectivism. The Silver Age 69-85. Bowlt suggests that Diaghilev's
controversial use of Vasnetsov's art in the first issue of the journal. This induded interest in specific historical periods such as Versailles and Classical Greece.one aesthetic or philosophical theory over all others. coupled
with his use of neo-nationalist art for minor decorations. and others to restore religion
to life was part of this rehospectivism."~~
90~. integrating the arts. is evidence that
. and a cult of forrnegl In discussing each one of these tendencies Bowlt makes
strong co~ections the ideas of the Russian symbolists. t. consciously or unconsciously.
Bowlt. "Vzgliady Vagnera na iskusstvo. quoted in ."93 to those held by Bely and Ivanov. 9 5 ~ o w l t The Silver Age 78. . "Wagner's
Views on Art. did not exdude the presence of philosophy:
9 3 ~ Likhtenberger. quoted above. The Siher Age 77. Skriabin's exotic and mystical music meant much. and Scriabin as artists who experimented with synaesthesia and other possibilities of total art. witness to
w i h was his invitation to him to appear as soloist at the season of Russian hc
Bowlt also discusses the presence of Russian music in Paris in 1 9 0 7 . "To Diaghilev.
. . Myers. " ~ Bowlt's description of ~ the graphic and decorative arts. Bowlt cites RimskyKorsakov.
Finally. 9 6 ~ o w l tThe Silver Age 81. Bowlt connects ideas on the collective nature of Greek drama and the relation
i of Greek drama to myth. "Two Cases of Synaesthesia. is given as an example of the "creative apotheosis" of the tendency toward emphasis on form and composition coupled with emotional restraint. This. Gesamtkunstwerk. see a Charles S. ~ ~ symbolist "myth-making" and "god-seeking" in works of World of Art painters and poets.147
According to Bowlt. Ciuriionis." British lournal of Psychology 7 (1914): 112-117." Mir iskusstua 7-8 (1899). R a h a n i n o v . . .94 Scriabin was not alien to Diaghilev's world of art. expressed in a 1899 M r iskusstva article. peculiar to the Russian avant-garde after 1 9 1 0 . and to Benois' and Diaghilev's life-long interest in his works. the World of Art writers and artists did exhibit a concern for
the formal properties of art that "anticipated the distinct orientation towards form. Nikolai Medtner. synthesis of the arts as a principle of The World o f Art aesthetic can be partly attributed to the widespread popularization of Wagner's ideas. 9 4 ~ o r discussion of the synaesthetic experiences of Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov.
the apolitical. even aphilosophical behavior of many of the World of Art members should not allow us to apply the label "art for art's sake" as a general and exclusive description of the direction favored by all of them. Ruskin and Tolstoi."97
By 1902 symbolist art and ideas were found more firequently on the pages of
M r iskzisstna. Wibess to this was its very aspiration towards artistic synthesism-since this. ."
Bowlt concludes his discussion with this observation:
. . asocial. the World of Art publicized names such as Dostoevsky. It is a sad paradox. In this way. together with its advocation of Ibsen. . for example. Indeed. fueled an already growing nostalgia for an idealized. therefore. 99~owlt. .99
We can concur that Stravinsky was very much influenced by his association
f with Diaghilev and the World o Art artists. Vladimir Soloviev. [Dlespite its admiration of Western culture. it was the cult of dilettantism in the good and true sense of the word. .
In this chapter we have seen how perceptions of social disintegration
and the breakdown of tradition.. in Briusov's article i
9 7 ~ o w l t The Silner Age 55. Puvis de Chavannes. Repin. the World of Art remained at heart a Russian phenomenon. synthetic Ballets Russes.98 and
in Bely's discussion of theater as religion in "The Forms of Art. 98~haritonova54.Still. which owed so much to the World of &t. was the direct result of its members' reaction to the social and political fragmentation evident during the last years of Imperial Russia." a programmatic declaration of Russian symbolism. that the grand. in many ways. As Filosofov remarked: "The World of Art never had a definite program. etc. although we must condude that this influence was far broader than that assumed by Taruskin. the World of Art acted as a junction of interests rather than as the champion of a single trend. in the art of Bakst and Vrubel. Nietzsche. should have been seen and applauded only outside Russia.
. especially following the demonstrations and revolution in 1905. . The Silver Age 84-85.
The idea was widespread that art and artists." or to the mystical delusions of a very marginal minority.
These ideas were not confined to Ivanovfs "tower. We have also seen how the healing power of primitive. literarature. and newspapers. and philosophy.149
primordial state in which all aspects of man's life formed a harmonious whole. Next we will t u n to Stravinsky's music and Stravinsky's own dedarations as the work progressed to find evidence that he and Roerich shared one concept for The Rite of
Spring. ecstatic ritual was offered as a solution to the spiritually bankrupt. especially i their efforts to achieve a synthesis of the arts. cabarets.
We have seen how Nijinsky's and
Roerich's art is a reflection of this cultural context. fragmented life of modern man The balance between chaos and order (as well as between a l l of the polar opposites of the neo-Platonic universe) could only be achieved by embracing chaos in ecstatic ritual.
. they were "hot topics'' in the cafes. held a n
special responsibility for bringing about the transformation of civilization. as well as in the journals of art." to a rarefied "avantgarde.
Evidence presented i Chapter 11 corrects the commonly held view that n Roerich contributed only ethnographic detail and a idealized view of the n past. Diaghilev's and others' fabrications about Nijinsky's lack of musical knowledge. e
. chaotic. his insanity. Chapter III places Roerich's work in the context of religious revival in turn-
l~ee Hodson.' The restored choreography invites us to look once more at
this pagan ritual i the f l context of music. 2 ~ e discussion of his choreography in Chapter I. Nijinsky's work reflects this cultural context: his contemporaries recognized the ecstasy and terror communicated by his choreography. Millicent
Hodson's work corrects Stravinsky's. and his inability to do hard work. Nijinsky's Crime Against Grace vii-xix. and dance. It suggests the n ul power of such ritual to affirm the collective nature of primitive society and to insure that man can appease the terrifying. elemental forces of nature by becoming one with them. especially through ritual. It clarifies Roerich's commitment to healing modern man's spiritual
n crisis by promoting the return to a way of life steeped i beauty and connected
to the elements of nature and to the spiritual world.Chapter N Stravinsky's Mysterium
Previous chapters of this study have looked closely at the cultural and intellectual context that influenced Velikaia zherfna i an attempt to correct n the fdse impressions that have grown up around this work. Roerikh's letter to Diaghilev in Chapter U.2 his paintings also suggest his awareness of the delicate balance between cosmos and chaos. decor.
Because Stravinsky is known for manipulating his memories. the direct sources we do have as evidence of
Stravinsky's concept of the ballet plus the circumstantial evidence of h s attraction to the mythographic. I will turn to the music itself. ritualistic poetry of Gorodetsky and Bal'mont. 1931)35. Stmwinsky (Paris: Editions Rieder. we must restrict ourselves to comments he made contemporary to his work on
Velikaiu zhertoa if we want to come closer to an understanding of his artistic intent." However. discussed in Chapter Kt. commonly interpreted by western scholarship as subhuman and therefore devoid of spiritual meaning. and given the broad prevalence of religious revival among
the Russian intelligentsia and across popular culture.3 He "saw
in imagination a solemn pagan rite: sage elders."See Andrti Schaefher. "A ballet unfolded. Given the weight of Hodson's work. An Autobiography (1903-1934) 31. consisting of nothing but a young maiden dancing to the point of exhaustion before a group of old men of fabulous age." They were "sacrificing her to propitiate the god of spring. will be shown to support rather than contradict the idea that Stravinsky shared Roerich's vision. we must reexamine
Stravinsky's participation in this creation of a commanding ritual that possessed the power to transform m&d. dried out practically to the point of petrifaction. seated in a arde. given a more comprehensive understanding of Roerich's spiritual purpose. quoted in Taruskin. Andre Schaeffner in 1931. Strauinsky 862.
. where analysis reveals Stravinsky's
3~his well-known version is from Igor Stravinsky. After a discussion of this
Even the "fleeting vision" that came to him in 1910 as he was
finishing The Firebird was first made public twenty-one years later.of-the-century Russian culture and offers another interpretation for this ballet's sacrificial act. Stravinsky told a somewhat different version to his biographer. watched a
young girl dance herself to death.
Translation of this title has been problematic.
In a few meetings with Roerich we worked out the libretto. which. Then the elders enter.the Exalted Sacrifice. a khorovod game of rival c1ar. She enters the stone labyrinth from which there is no return. Stravinsky communicates his vision of Vesnn soiashchennaza in a letter to Nikolai Findeizen.1912. Vesna miushchennaia is the Russian translation of Le Sacre du Printemps. left alone face to face with the elders. These last words are in fact the name of the second part The elders are witnesses to her final dance. which ends in the death of the doomed one.Al of this is interrupted by the procession of the 'Oldest-and-Wisest. I give the listener a sense of the people's closeness to the earth. The first part ends with a wild dancing-out of the earth. which bears the name 'The Kiss of the Earth. The whole thing must be expressed in dance from the beginning to the end-not one measure is given to pantomime.expression of the synthesis of chaos and cosmos in ecstatic ritual that culminates with the union of all opposing forces. later.' the elder who kisses the earth. roughly. the people intoxicated with spring. First. takes the foliowing form:
"The first part. The
orchestral introduction is a swarm of spring pipes."
Throughout the whole composition. of the commonality of their lives with the earth.' is made up of ancient Slavonic rituals-the joy of spring. there are auguries. dances her final 'Sacred dancef . at night. it has been rendered as a "stomping dance upon the
(~'iachkova 470. The doomed one.4
In this summary there are three points of particular interest. through lapidary rhythms. One of the maidens is doomed by fate to be il sacrificed. after the curtain rises. khorovod rituals. all the remaining maidens glorify the chosen one with a tempestuous. a dancing forth. aggressive dance.
" n the second part. the
"dancing-out of the earth" (oypliasyvanie zmli) is a neologism that suggests invocation by means of dance. the maidens perform secret rituals I on a sacred h l .
.s. dated December 15. a game of l abduction.
"The Rite o Spring: Genesis of a Masterpiece" 31. Nijinsky's choreography for "Mystic Circles of the Maidens" (Act II. 130-137. Woman. Second. I addition. " W E RITE OF SPRING: Folklore. "The Rite Revisited" 189. intoxicated dance. it is one maiden's failure to execute the intricate pattern of the labyrinth that sets her apart as the Chosen One? Stravinsky makes another reference to this
labyrinth in comments published on the day of the premike. which is inescapable and prede-
n termined by the conventions of pagan society. . and the Ballets Russes. incantatory. the "stone labyrinth" is present in the ballet on many levels. f 9 ~ o d s o nNijinsky's Crime Against Grace xxv i. The image refers to the Chosen One's destiny.
earthfW5 the "wearing out of the earthfM6 an untranslatable neologism as as denoting the stamping nature of the dance. of the commonality of their lives with the earth. 6 ~ o a n n aHubbs.7 and "The Dance Overcoming the
The emphasis on stomping has obscured the relationship of humans
to the earth that both Roerich and Stravinsky had in mind. and by the "lapidary rhythms" used throughout the music and dance. "I give the listener a sense of the people's closeness to the earth." Unpublished manuscript. '~aruskin. Scene 1 influenced by ) ' Roerich's ornamental designs on the costumes. followed by a celebratory. Stravinskyfs words at the end of the letter clarify this relationship and his own purpose. although there is no such labyrinth on the stage in the literal sense. Indeed. "[the young girls] trace out with their formations the snares within which the Chosen One
5~aruskin." These words refer to a
relationship enriched by the ritual bestowing of a kiss upon the earth. is based on square maze patterns and "labyrinthine wanderings" in a circular form.Straninsky 874.
Presenre the stone."I1 Shavinsky's final words reflect the desire that the ballet be an actual ritual rather than performed as some kind of dramatic spectacle for an audience. . Berrnan]. setting apart these priests from the masses of the devout. . . quoted in Bullard 3: 6.
A second source o direct evidence is contained in a n interview f
published in St.will be dosed at the end and from which she will be unable to escape-"l0 The
stones of the "labyrinth" echo Roerich's sacred and "enchanted stones. "The whole thing must be expressed in dance from the beginning to the end-not one measure is given to pantomime. that results from the prayerful ecstasy of the entire audience. but at the same time they are lifted and carried by a particular mood. ll~erikh. English translation in 2: 8 .12
Collectivity is achieved at a l l levels. ." the "sacred signs" that preserve past memories and point the way to oneness with the spirit The boulder that occupies the center of Roerich's backdrop evokes his incantation. . 12~enois. "Ce que j'ai voulu exprimer dans Le Sacre du Printemps. quoted in Krasovskaia 1:432. "Zaldiatie. . It has practically no plot.13 Stravinsky. "Know the stone. "U Igoria Stravinskogo. How do I envision contemporary dassical ballet? In general I favor the so-called choreodrarna which must serve as a type of contemporary ballet. The full incantation is quoted in Chapter 11. From the very moment of this selection a temple and liturgical service are created." Montjoie! I/8 29 May 1913: 1. rather it is an outline of dances or ritual action in dance [fan tseoal'noe deisfoo]. ." Tmety 18. . Dvinskii W.M. . 1912: 5. Petersbug in September 1912 in which Stravinsky states: I have completed a rnysterium called "Le Sacre du Printemps" ("Sacred Spring") ." Binheuye vedomosti 25 Sept. "Beseda o balete" 109.
. for example as Benois
described it in "A Conversation about Ballel"
A selection of artists [dancers] creates a theater."
This is consistent
with the contemporary view of theater as temple. The priests continue to delight in their own actions.
the somewhat archaic word deistno connotes the performance of ritual worship. Stravinsky undoubtedly
understands the place of choreodrama i depicting the idealized past society n
i which the future of the individual is insured only by his becoming one n
with everything that exists outside himself. 1911-1913 (London. Stravinsky refers to "my letter to Montjoie!" He adds. a term Ivanov frequently used i his discussions of dionysian ecstatic n ritual.15 It wl be helpful to quote the entire letter: il
Stravinsky. a anomaly. u. is one which Stravinsky first disavowed within a week of
its publication. The Rite of Spring Sketches. 1969). These words would have additional significance for Stravinsky's Russian contemporaries. "I
The third source of evidence. editor of Muzyh. "tantseval'noe Further. " See Craft.
. the words
deistvo" (ritual action in dance) suggest Stravinsky's
awareness of the ballet as a act of worship i the same sense that classical n n
Greek drama was religious ritual. the notorious letter "Ce que j'ai voulu
exprimer dans Le Sane du Printmps.. See also Vera Stravinsky and Robert Craft. but n there is more to this than a different use of dancers. Ln letters to Derzhanovsky.Why does Stravinsky choose to call this work a mysterium rather than simply "a ballet?" He is aware of the theurgic nature of the ritual he has envisioned with Roerich. in the intellectual context of Russia the term "mysterium" is a c~~unonplace. It war written practically on the r n . In Stravinsky's sketchbook the word deisfuo is also used i the title of n the ritual dance of the elders. Strauinsky: Selected Correspondence 154-56. t5~travinsky's corrections to the Russian translation which appeared in the journal Muzyka in August 2913 reveal changes that are matters of word choice more than substance." published i the May 29. 1913 issue of n Monfjoie! in Paris. although it is dear horn contemporary documents that he did
indeed write it. Stravinsky also supports not n
the tendency i ballet toward mass action of the entire corps de ballet. "The style of this letter disturbs me a great deal. "Deist zto Startsev-Cheloaech'ikh Praottsev. as i Dionisooo n deistoo.
514-518. I have entrusted to my orchestra [the expression ofj that great fear w i h weighs down hc every living spirit as it confronts things in their potentiality. he contracted typhus and spent five weeks out of circulation from June3 to mid-July. See also Bullard 1: 133-135. Stravinsky was particularly vulnerable at this time. avoided the overevocative strings. A frail sound of the flute captures that capacity in its potentiality. The entire prelude is based upon a steady unchanging "mezzo forte. It is that obscure and immense feeling shared by all things at the moment when nature renews her forms. thus far. shown me such sympathetic appreciation. I Le Same du Printonps I have desired to express the sublime n growth of nature which renews itself: the total Panic ascent of the universal sap. and the dynamics of it grow and diminish only through the changing masses of instruments. I have sought to evoke this in the orchestration and in the interplay of melodies. I am afraid that Le Sacre. Stravinsky undoubtedly wanted to moderate his own comments on the ballet. which then spreads through the whole orchestra. in which I make use neither of fairy tales nor of the themes of human sadness and joy. and that he wanted to cut parts of the performance in London.
In the Prelude before the curtain rises. 1913. but in which I endeavor to portray a somewhat larger abstraction. not because he wrote something "wrong" about his creation. See Vera Stravinsky and Robert Craft.In the last few years the Parisian public has kindly tendered a warm welcome to my Oiseau de Feu and Petrouchka. and it is the vague and profound anxiety of a universal puberty." The melody develops from this along a horizontal line. through the intense dynamism of the orchestra and not through the melodic curve itself. since the more conservative Diaghilev was worried at the time about box office revenues.2: 4-9. As a result I have in treating this melody. My friends have noticed the evolution of the animating conception which progresses from the fantastical fable in the first of these works to the fully human generalization in the second.
. It was rumored that Diaghilev wanted to cut performances from both the Paris and London runs.3: 3-6. which includes Edward Hill's 1916 English
translation. but more likely because he was unsure of Diaghilev's willingness to continue supporting the ballet. may mislead those who have. Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents 100. Stravinsky recants this letter. the "thing in itself" which can grow. representative of the human voice with their crescendi and diminuendi. and I have cast in the foreground the
Straninsky in Pictures and Documents 522-526. can develop itself indefinitely.
The second a d begins with a mysterious game of the young girls. no one knows her age nor the century in which she learned the secrets of nature or taught her sons prophecy. They mix but in their rhythms one can sense the dashing of groups which are being shaped. through the game. But presently we hear the approach of a procession. Every instrument is like a new bud which sprouts upon the bark of a venerable old tree. During this time the young girls come from the river. spokesmen run from one group to the other and quarrel among themselves. The young men beside the girls represent the auguries of spring who. the High Priest. like that of a tree.woodwinds. beat out with their steps the rhythm of Spring. And the whole orchestra. It is t e Dance of the Earth. becoming himself one with the soil. In short I wanted to express in the Prelude the Panic awe of nature. the eldest of the clan. It is the Saint who arrives. half-woman. She runs. their sex is unique and double. a holy terror of the midday sun. His benediction acts as a signal to [the start ofl a rhythmic outpouring. This signifies the definition of different forces through struggle. a synthesis of the rhythms. [people] gush out ceaselessly in great numbers like the new h energies of nature. They trace out with their formations the snares within
. all the ensemble. less rich in facile expression. the beating pulse of Spring. the steps of those beings already formed. The groups separate and begin to battle. Indeed they divide to the left and to the right. it is a part of a larger whole. These are. the Sage. stretched out on his belly. standing in place. half-beast. The musical material itself swells. of the beauty which arises. a very old woman.
In the first act. some young people are seen with an old. Everyone covers his head and runs in spirals. At first a musicai prelude is heard based upon the mysterious change which accompanies the dance of the maidens. blesses the earth. grows large and bursts foIth. then. that is to say. bent over the earth. A great shudder of fear passes through the crowd. more dry. and for that very reason. They form a crown which mixes with the uown of the boys. a sort of cry of Pan. with his arms and legs extended. And the Sage. more distinct. This is the new form which emerges. should sigrufy the birth of Spring. more moving in my view. and the thing thus formed produces a new rhythm.
which the Chosen One will be dosed at the end and from which she will be unable to escape. The Chosen One is she whom S p ~ must consecrate, who must render to the Spring the force g which il2r youth has taken from him. The young maidens dance a kind of glorification around the Chosen One. Then comes the purification of the ground and the evocation of the ancestors. The ancestors cluster around the Chosen One as she begins the Sacrificial Dance. When she is at the point of falling in exhaustion the ancestors see this and, creeping around her like greedy monsters so that she will not touch the earth as she falls, they lift her high in the air and offer her to the sky. In these essential rhythms the annual cycle of the forces which are renewed and decayed in the bosom of nature is portrayed.
And I am happy to have found for this work of faith M. Nijinsky, the ideal choreographic collaborator, and M. Roerich, the creator of the pictorial atmosphere.16 Sh.avinsky devotes five paragraphs to the brief Prelude to establish the context for the work which follows. He is describing the abyss itself, that terrifying, yet essential dement of primitive man's reLigious experience from
which order (here in the forE of beauty) will emerge. ". . . I have entrusted to
my orchestra [the expression 04 that great fear which weighs down every living spirit as it confronts things in their potentiality, the 'thing in itself'
which can grow, can develop itself indefinitely." Phrases Stravinsky uses in
this section, "the Panic awe of nature," "a holy terror of the midday sun, a sort of u y of Pan," directly evoke Ivanov's image of the abyss discussed in the previous chapter: There is ecstasy in battle, And on the edge of the glowing abyss. . . Everything, everything that threatens destruction conceals from the mortal heart
16~travinskyI que i'ai voulu exprimer dans Le Sacre du Printemps," quoted in Bullard 2: 5-9. "Ce Bullard's translation varies only slightly from Edward Hill's. The bracketed words are BuIlardfs.
inexplicable delightsPerhaps a pledge of immortality.l7 At several points in this text Stravinsky refers to the unity or collectivity that is achieved through the music, the orchestration, the choreography, and the ritual itselk Every instrument is like a new bud which sprouts upon the bark of a venerable old tree; it is a part of a larger whole. And the whole orchestra, all the ensemble, should sigrufy the birth of SD&E.
In the games of the first act groups are formed and re-formed, and, following
the Sage's "becoming one himself with the soil," all are united in the frenzied dancing-forth of the earth. The formation of something new out of the dash of opposites is the founding principle of the choreography and the music, just as it is the nature of the ritual itseLf:
. . . They mix but i their rhythms one can sense the dashing of n
groups which are being shaped. Indeed they divide to the left This is the new form which emerges, a synthesis of the rhythms; and the thing thus formed produces a new rhythm.
and to the right.
I have shown that such synthesis or reconciliation of opposites was a
common image i turn-of-the-century Russian thought, citing examples n
from work of both Solov'ev and Ivanov. Roerich, too, described the role of
synthesis i producing beauty, and it is no surprise that he called upon the n
vocabulary of music to best express his idea. We recall his essay "K prirude"
i which he offers synthesis as a solution to the dash of man-made, urban n
beauty with the beauty of nature:
I7v.Ivanov, "Religiia" 6: 196.
Just as beautiful contrasting tones do not annihilate one another, but give forth a strong chord, so, in their opposition, urban beauty and the beauty of nature go hand in hand, intensifying the mutual impression, creating a strong mediant, the third note through which the beauty of "the mysterious" resounds.'g Stravhsky's description o the Chosen One's role underscores the ecstatic f union accomplished by the ritual sacrifice; "The Chosen One is she whom Spring must consecrate, who must render to the Spring the force w i h her hc youth has taken from him."
As a surrogate for the entire community she
dies in order to insure the promise of life in the form of Spring. Death precedes Life, life and death are one. Echoes of Roerich's deep spiritualism resonate in Stravinsky's summary. First, this ancient ritual is made ecumenical by the titles
Stravinsky gives to the elder who blesses the earth: "the Saint," "the Sage, the
High Priest, the eldest of the clan." This resembles Roerich's striving for the
universal through the synthesis of the best examples of beauty and piety. Second, future harmony and prosperity depend on deep connections to the past, a synthesis of the past and present, "In the first act, some young people
are seen with an old, a very old woman; no one knows her age nor the
century in which she learned the secrets of nature or taught her sons prophecy." It is the eldest of the dan who performs the ritual kiss that brings about the ecstatic union of man with the earth, and finally it is the ancestors
(in Russian pmottsy, "forefathers," and startsy, elder^"'^) who, with their
Lifting the Chosen One high in the air, complete the clan's ritual union of the
Earth and Sky.
18~erikh, prirode," N.K.Rerikh. Claz dobyi 73-74. "K 19stravinsky, The Rite of Spring Sketches.
Man is not
dehumanized by adopting the elemental rhythms. a product of
the same intellectual climate in Russia." quoted in Bullard 3: 6." a remark that could be easily ignored by readers not familiar with the intense religious revival that had occupied Russian minds for more than a decade. rhythms. Boris Asaf'ev. couched his commentary on
Stravinsky's music in the same religious context that I have put forth in this
2 0 " ~ ecycle annuel des forces qui renaissent et qui retombent dans le giron de la nature est
accompli. essential. Analyses of Stravinsky's music support the conclusion that Vesna soiashchennaia is ecstatic ritual." Stravinsky. dans ces rythmes essentiels." Essential rhythms
n are the powerful elements of nature.The next short paragraph captures the essence of this and every ecstatic ritual. instead. decayed) become attached to words denoting the cosmic (cycle. the stikhiia.
orchestra. he is able to find order and preserve his humanity by embracing and becoming one with the chaotic forces which surround him. "In these essential rhythms the annual cyde of the forces which are renewed and decayed in the bosom of nature is portrayed. n
and i the massive presence of Roerich's stone and sky. for they have already recognized Stravinsky's many allusions. conveyed i Strrtvirsky's
changing and dashing rhythms. and a remark that is totally unnecessary to those familiar with the Russian intellectual dimate. and dancers alike-to
revelation of the Divine Unity through ecstasy. "Ce que j'ai voulu. i the conbapuntal rhythms of the dance. Even Stravinsky's language reflects the synthesis he describes. words denoting chaos (forces. renewed)?' Stravinsky concludes his letter with a brief reference to Le Sacre dzi Printemps as a "work of faith.
. written and performed with the intent to
lead all who participated-audience.
not just a dever stylist who knows how to conceal quotations.
. and forms. Further references to A Book About Strauinsky in this chapter will be given in the text. he found the key to its proper artistic. because "the essence of this content.21 Ironically Asafev's work was ignored in The Soviet Union as well. I n
1929 AsaYev foresaw a crisis for Stravinsky. His taste and technical facility made it unnatural for him to foist onto this music characteristics that were a i n to it--on the contrary: by letting le the folk art reveal its own qualities. Russian folk music was not just something to which he could apply principles of development that were alien
to the material itself. the following observations made by Asaf'ev recognize aspects of Stravinskyfs stylistic development that Taruskin later analyzes in very great detail: Stravinsky had made himself a master of native Russian art. the "urban western European
composer" who relied on Russian content. 22~lexanderPushkin (1799-1837) was instrumental in legitimizing Russian as a literary language. A Book About Stmuinsky. 1982) 2. at least u t l Stravinsky ni returned for a concert tour in 1962. Richard F." Asaf'ev adds that Stravinsky may have exhausted the epoch and the musical culture.transmutationn(51). was] what secured and maintained his position as the darLing of the European snobs. for example. In this sense Stravinsky had become the Pushkin22 of Russian music (6). vitality. . industrialized by [Stravinsky. . . but a master of the speech of Russian. trans. . French (1929. the fofk music actually became a part of his organically developing language.
2 1 ~ o r i Asaf'yev [Igor Glebov]. when the volume was re-issued. thus freeing Russian literary culture from French dominance. not just a native ethnographer who is unable to assimilate materials and make artistic use of them. Asaf'ev's work on Stravinsky was largely ignored by the West because it ~nderestimatedthe composer's ability to adapt to his new homeland. Today Asaf'ev's work is recognized as insightful. Ann s Arbor: ClMI Research P.
which the composer repeatedly disavowed." "muffled crashes. suggesting otherworldly apparitions." "slippery." for example." "muted peals. much as the trained eye might see details of a landscape that would appear barren to the uninitiated (46-47). made sometime in the 1960s. uses the image of growth to describe the Prelude. sinister. . He is quite conscious of his method. . Important and essential elements of Stravinsky's music are terrifying and unusual sounds that can be described by such terms as "winds of autumn. . . The sensation of growth is achieved.
AsaYev communicates his musical analysis primarily in verbal images alongside quotations from the score. ." "the twinklings of silent flames. I might have found other terms more exact. . My use of the term "otherworldly apparitions. . l k Shavinsky.
.23 This is no surprise. was an attempt to make the listener's ear aware of the undercurrent of sound in silence. but the most that I want to point out is that awareness of such areas of sounds. whatever may be its biological or psycho-physiological basis. Asaf'ev praises the transition
23~ichard French discusses Stravinsky's response in his preface to A Book About Strminsky.
Asaf'ev. This does not imply that Asaf'ev had Montjoie! in hand as he worked. for A s a f ' i ~ ' ~ analysis is based on images similar to those that Stravinsky himself used in his letter to Montjoie!. it is evidence of
the widespread presence of these ideas in pre-Revolutionary Russia. noiseless rustlings.Perhaps the highest recommendation for AsaPevfs work is Stravinsky's own response. . ie "The 'form' of this introduction to Sacre must be understood as a musical texture in process of growth. and by introducing new
melodies as offshoots of the old" (31). in his analysis of The Ritual Action of the Ancestors in the second act he writes:
'The color again becomes dark. he filled the margins of his copy with protests and dismissals. . lends an added dimension to our perception of music. Rather. by two
means: by varying the densities of the texture. ." ." "breaths of cold air.
. concentrated in itself and not yet differentiated into the fluency. and tempi. Stravinsky commented on this instrumentation in Montjoie!.
In describing The Dance of the Rival Cities. the texture gradually becomes fuller and more encumbered.Stravinsky makes with the change in instrumentation at the end of the Prelude. in which the tempo i s always trying to overcome the inertia of the sounds. . Asaf'ev's image of The Adoration of the Earth and The Dance of the Earth reveals the same closeness of people to the earth that Stravinsky emphasized
in his letter to Findeizen. The rest of the dance consists of variations. of man inseparable from and dependent on the earth that nourishes him. . . Stravinsky conveys the impression of elemental force. dance.
. "The trill of the clarinet and the violin motive (from the next dance) imply an impending change: the symphony of nature's vernal regeneration gives way to human revelry. The element of struggle is also conveyed by the collisions of dissonant sonorities. Asaf'ev underscores the
dashing of groups:
The basic dynamic presence of this dance is the conflict between the fast tempo and the weight of the massive layers of sound. . it is by the very cumbersomeness of the materials that Stravinsky is able to evoke an image of pagan life in distant antiquity. . juxtapositions. and collisions of the diatonic and altered versions of this basic material. hard complexes. Arranged as it is in massive. so that one is even led to wonder what colossal forces must be expended merely to propel the sounds. the material makes its heaviness increasingly felt. elasticity. play. Through the harshness and severity of the confrontations. The transition is masterful" (32). and suppleness of human movement (36). melodies. Indeed. Asaf'ev writes:
The movements [of the first act] provide a sequence of contrasting rhythms. .
The atmosphere is one of fumbling. as it is with his subconscious. dance. but it has the connotation of "wild. what we recognize as Ivanov's abyss:
The music of Part Two is not so much concerned with the externals of primitive Slavic man's attitude toward nature. the Spring dance of hope. . the fascination. and play to the dark side of human life. Stravinsky. . and where man. Asaf'evfs analysis of the Introduction to the second part notes the change of atmosphere from human revelry. . This is the orgy of earth-worship. the episode as a whole conveys the magic. but actually lusts to blend with earth. shadowed world devoid of objects." "tempestuous. In the Mysterious Cirdes of the Adolescents Asaf'ev notices what Stravinsky
. . It is not melody that reigns here." rather than "bloody. groping. and panic in the face of the unknown to w i h hc he has for so long made so many sacrifices as propitiation. in a gloomy. only a cumbrous figuration suspended naked over a whole-tone bass. This dance is of elemental primitiveness and solidity: there are no melodic forrnations. the trampling of the grain (39). as if it were snow." "Minus the last measure. . shows himself here a sensitive poet and symphonist in the realm of the subconscious.
Asaf'evfs familiarity with the purpose of ecstatic ritual is apparent in his analysis of the final Sacrificial Dance:
24~saf'evuses the word "buinoe" which can be translated as "violent" as French does. but ponderous rhythms. that area of feeling where the palpable and the tangible disappear. . or semi-darkness. which is the final action of the first part. moves timidly and with the caution of uncertainty and fear (40-41)." "turbulent. . . emotional attitudes: the sense of mystery. and the web of panic from which
the maidens cannot escape" (43). The
described as the "stone labyrinth. [This dance is] a heavy mass that not only makes no attempt to free itself from the earth. to become earth itself. horror.heavy mass quivers-and begins the [ t e m p e s t u ~ u s ] ~ ~ Dance of the Earth."
. whose music embodies to a masterful degree human gestures and bodily movements.
. and the impossibility of h separating personal life from t e Life of the masses. 1987) 71. It is also the logical conclusion of the symphonic plan of the whole. ScbJoezer writes of the synthesis of individual instruments into a unified whole:
I the Sacre the composer temporarily re-establishes timbre as a n self-sufficient element. For example. Martin Cooper (New s n York: HoIrnes & Meier. costumes. As a finale. I hope I have gone sufficiently into detail to show the inner logic and order of the conception of the dance. and it conveys in sound the ultimate overcoming of the "feeling of panic" through sacrifice. two themes remain: personal sacrifice. and Problematic Unity" of this work. the dance brings the second part and indeed t e whole action to its highest h intensity. Straoinsky. . ecstasy (57). Real. quite apart from the props. . . . again handling the orchestra not as an ensemble of different elements. These two ideas are the ineluctable conclusion of the whole sequence of dances and events.
It is dear to Asaf'ev that Stravinsky's music most effectively portrays man's
ritual embrace of chaos as a way of insuring order or cosmos. Even if we reject the entire set of archaic premises on which Sucre is based. exaltation. independent effects. Only if one refuses to examine the new means of expression can one speak of them as chaotic and confused. but as a single. trans. . even at the risk of life itself.The exaltation and fanatic enthusiasm of this dance . Andre n
Boucourechliev articulates a feature of the music that perhaps played the greatest role in transforming the audience into participants in the ritual:
2 S ~ o r ide Schloezer quoted i Andre Boucourechliev.
Other musical analyses of The Rite of Spring support the context of ecstatic ritual that Stravinsky himself described. . . or rites. cornmunicates this also (49-50).25
I discussing the "Formal. The music itself. are marvelously expressive of the ecstasy and nervous animation of any individual whose fate turns on the accomplishment of a great deed. multiregistered instrument open to exploitation in order to obtain specific.
. 2 ~ have argued
f elsewhere that while it is dear that subversion may have been the result o
Stravinsky's music. Straoinsky 955. Stravinsky's transformation of the style. but in persistent characteristics of style and technique that. therefore. there is no evidence that it was his primary goal. . but still recognizable to
both artists and his Russian contemporaries. to be sought neither in existing or traceable formal schemes nor in any theory of formal organization. but which in the case of the Sacre." or the "apparent
I subversion" of the German tradition in Russian art r n ~ s i c . does Stravinsky achieve that astonishing unity of which the listener is immediately aware? . inasmuch as the score exhibits this unity only i a n problematic form.
2 7 ~ m skin. compartmentalized work. . . which is fundamental-a rewarding activity inseparable from all musical Listening worthy of the name. The listener has therefore a task to perform. While Taruskin allows the model of subversion to lead h m into declaring that the i ballet is "Scythian. and harmonies of his source material into something totally new. rhythms. From this formal framework he sees what he calls "Stravinsky's antisymphonic zgenda. as it were. is one of the main unifying agents. How. the Sacre is a discontinuous. Instead of explicit or conventional formal schemes the score provides the listener with the material necessary (though not in itself sufficient) for a creative participation of this kmd. . impregnate the multifaceted and heterogeneous elements of the work." his musical analysis can and does support the concepts set forth by Stravinsky in the sources cited above. is the very resurrection of
26~oucourechliev 72-73.As far as form is concerned. The unity of the Sacre is. First. then.26
Taruskin's study of The Rife of Spring is primariiy comprised of his
meticulous collection of Stravinsky's musical sources from both folk and art music traditions plus his thorough analysis of the composer's transformation of those sources into a new musical language. .
28~aruskin. no key can be said to unify The Rite over its entire span. . in Russian rm folklore it had been a fixture f o time immemorial. no progression. sometimes quite literally hypnotic.. although in many ways it was an impact dictated more by the circumstances of the premiere and French reception than by Stravinsky's and Roerich's intentions.
Taruskin also recognizes the effect of Stravinsky's rhythms: The rhythmic novelties i The Kzte are of two distinct types. and the most undifferentiated as to stress . .h r t tho r l n s e s t c. . and it was truly an innovation-for Western art music. the beat-rhythm of this dance is the most rigid and relentless. Second. The other is the "invincible and elemental" kind. . Ivanov and many others. Gorodetsky. That is what their Ritual Action is all about.h&r6"= ~ ~ 3 f fi unifier of this tonally enigmatic score.30 Taruskin relates this rhythm to the rhythm of the elements. "but all alone in the r e a l i z a t i ~ n . as when the Elders charm the Choseit.ancient ritual engaged in by Roerich.
2 9 ~ a m s k i nStrnvinsky 939. that is. He identifies a "tetrachordal partition" or "source chord" that:
i c in e i tc a ~ .ew ritual. . Speaking of the elemental force of the rhythms of this r. 3 0 ~ a r ukin. Taruskin's analysis offers another explanation for the sense of unity that is perceived in spite of the score's lack of formal unity. n One is the hypnotic type: the "immobile" ostinaro. its tonal coherence and integrity are impressively evident to the naivest ear?
u. and that is why . for while no obvious surface harmony. " ~ ~ Taruskin is correct that Stravinskyfs work had a singular impact.-. Taruskin notes that Stravinsky was not alone in attempting to unleash these forces.. s
. Stravinsky 958-959. Stmuinsky 958. One to perform her dance of death. And such a nominee is indeed an analytical necessity.-. the chaotic
stikhiia ever present in the world of ancient man. no theme. Bal'mont.
made the Russian universal-
w i h is to say. perhaps to utter the ultimate word of great.3 3
Stravinsky came close to realizing this universal through V e s n n
soiashchennaia. a restoration of the power of primitive
man's art and religion used then and now to one end-to
preserve harmony through ritualistic entry into disharmony.
. . ultimate bra&cr+J --nrA ~f all tribes. removed from theaters-become-temples. general harmony. it Russianized the musical universe-and hc
~ the R u ~ s i a n . Roerich. one defined in musical terms. "The Rite. 32~saf'ev 6. . to enfold all our brethren within it with brotherly love.
33~ostoevsky 1294." anticipated by Dostoevsky decades before?
. while framed f primarily in the history and language of music. . Russian as no music before it had ever been. Separated from its religious contents. Evidence demonstrates that it was conceived and
executed as ritual worship in dance. comes dose to the line of thought he has studiously ignored throughout his research. . Stravinsky's work achieved a different kind of universalism. and at last. " ~AsaPev alluded to the same accomplishment when he daimed that "Stravinsky had become the Pushkin of Russian Had
not Stravinsky voiced "the word. and Nijinsky shared a common vision of
31~arus Struvinsky 965. It is a great loss that the original was never performed in
Russia where it could have been received by an audience that would have recognized it for what it was. This study has corrected misconceptions in western scholarship about
Vesna saiashchennnia.Taruskin's conclusion about The Rite o Spring. kin. the solution to Europe's anguish is to be found in the panhuman and all-unifying Russian soul. Evidence also reveals that Stravinsky.
their own commentaries. The impulse to restore spiritual life i Russia. 1913. combined with the conviction that Russians n had a messianic calling to rescue modern man from the dominance of spiritually impoverished rationalism.
this ballet. nor can it be solely explained as an anomaly of Stravinsky's genius. the observations of their contemporaries. had fueled intellectual and artistic endeavors since the 1880s and would continue to do so for at least another decade. Vesna soiashchmnaia was not unique in its concept. and the art each one contributed to the project all attest to the
hs presence of this vision in the ballet as it was performed on May 29. T i
study has also established that similar endeavors were commonplace i n Russia at that time.
objective. and realist art and
literature were being replaced by theoretical physics and analytical psychology.
Riissia this. Philosophers.
Russians' traditional experience with non-rational ways of knowing through mysticism and the veneration of icons. When open discussion was censored. and the appearance of abstract and modernist art. often using each other's media
addressed with parricuiar seriousness. philosophical inquiry into non-rational modes of cognition.
painters. spiritual reality was felt to be more real than material reality. rationalist philosophy. dassification. x-rays. Analysis. and the cinema. At the turn of the century writers and
artists were even more convinced that art could and should become a powerful solution to the problems facing mankind. the antithesis of the rational West. made them more confident in
t e r ability to find a solution. Russians hi
had commonly turned to art. and naturalistic representation were rejected as artists and thinkers followed paths that paralleled Viacheslav Ivanov's a realibus ad
realiora. especially painting and the literary arts i the n
nineteenth century. plus their strong identification with
the East. and composers offered their answers. as a platform for political and philosophical argument
and propaganda for social reform.Conclusion
At the turn of the twentieth century European artists and intellectuals responded to the fragmentation they acutely felt in their own lives and observed in their environment with this particular question: Whnt is real?
The worlds of empirical science.
Whether or not Stravinsky and Roerich were acquainted with
Kandinskyrs ideas. but open to the message in the art. By separating itself from the conventions of realism. Theosophical works that explored the mysticism of form and color and their use in expressing "inner truth" were widely circulated among avant-garde artists. spiritual reality.It is critical that scholars not lose sight
of this essential component of the creative imp-dso I 1912 in Munich the n
abstract painter Vasilii Kandinsky published a treatise iiber das Geisiige i dm n
Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual in Art) that is a representative description of
what artists were now trying to achieve in their art." The spiritual could be expressed
in art that renounced all considerations of external form.172
as they worked to create a Grand Synthesis of science. By approaching art as one
would approach an icon. Abstract painting was closely connected to the spiritual in the first decade of its development. and aesthetic consciousness. Kandinsky and others considered art a form of religious action. artists could give material torm to their own comprehension of the "essential. and the arbitrary use of color and form in pure
patterning on the other. the viewer could experience an intellectual transformation. which were widely circulated among the Russian intelligentsia. religion. They valued and promoted the artist's ability to bring expression to non-objective. art was more able to express the inner spiritual
h t h s that all were seeking to renew in their Lives. that is without the tools of analysis and dassification. including
naturalism on the one hand. their work nevertheless seems to be exactly what Kandiwky prescribed for the new art:
. the senses.
" or "handling.. M. They will be interwoven in harmony and discord as are the two chief elements of painting.1
Kandinsky recognized that his ideal was s t i l l in its budding stage. Conventional beauty must go by the board and the literary element of "story-telling" or "anecdote" must be abandoned as useless." or "perspective. both artists and audiences need to learn the language of pure art. 1977) 51. make up the spiritual movement. Both arts must learn from music that hc every harmony and every discord w i h springs from the innes spirit is beautiful. which is the working of the inner harmony. His eye
lwassily Kandinsky. H. ." or what not. Our materialistic age has produced a type of spectator or "co~oisseur. T.
The achievement of the dance-art of the future will make possible the first ebullition of the art of spiritual harmony-the true stage-composition.?drstanding the new art would be especially difficult for audiences. He realized that r. some outward connection between its various parts. . l~andinsk~ 16. form and colour.In dancing as in painting we are on the threshold of the art of the future." who is not content to put himself opposite a picture and let it say its own message. trans.
. "To those who are not accustomed to it the inner beauty appears as ugliness because humanity i general indines to the outer and knows nothing of the n *nerY2 New art cannot be approached w t old expectations: ih
The speaatcz is too ready to look for a meaning in a picture-i-e. but that it is essential that they should spring from the inner spirit and from that alone. Concerning the Spiritual in Art. . Instead of allowing the inner value of the picture to work. The composition for the new theatre will consist of these three elements: (1) Musical movement (2) Pictorial movement (3) Physical movement and these three. properly combined." or "temperament. he worries himself in looking for "closeness to nature. Sadler (New York: Dover." or "tonality.
in the very
brief interlude following the rejection of the conventions of rationalism.does not probe the outer expression to arrive at the inner meaning? Kandinsky's caution to the spectator must be heeded by all scholars who investigate the arts created in this time of renewal of spiritual life. and others warned against the loss of the
spiritual in a r t They were critical of art forms that abandoned man in favor
of the forms and colors of the material. Berdiaev. a' ie It is a mistake to experience t i art with eyes and ears attuned to criteria hs
more appropriate to the art that preceded or followed. a tendency they observed in Cubism
and Futurism. yet.
. by dwelling solely on
the outer expression one cannot reach the inner meaning. Abstract art did move away from the spiritual. a body of art was created and offered as a solution to m n s loss of spiritual L f . Kandinsky.
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