1948 and All That: Soviet Music, Ideology & Power


1948 and All That: Soviet Music, Ideology & Power

Friday, 27 November to Saturday, 28 November

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

University of Cambridge

Provisional Programme

Friday 27 November

09.45 - 10.15Registration

10.15 - 10.30Welcome address (convenors)

10.30 - 13.00Panel I The 1948 Resolution: Background, Origins and Impact

Chair Hubertus Jahn (Cambridge)

Jana Howlett (University of Cambridge), 'The Politburo and the 1948 revival of attacks on "anti-artistic" phenomena in culture'

John Barber (University of Cambridge) Title to be confirmed

Svetlana Savenko (Moscow Conservatoire), 'RAPM: Life after death'

Michael Fjeldsoe (University of Copenhagen), 'Addressing the West: The 1948 International Conference of Composers and Music Critics in Prague'

14.00 - 15.30           Panel 2 Consequences of 1948

Chair: Simon Morrison (Princeton University)

Marina Frolova-Walker (University of Cambridge), '1948 and the Stalin Prize Committee'

Yevgeni Dobrenko (University of Sheffield), '1948 Resolution and Soviet Art: The Birth of the Popular Spirit From the Flesh of Formalism'

Kiril Tomoff (University of California, Riverside), 'Gypsy Barons and the Power of Love: Operetta Programming and Audience Taste in the Shadow of Party Intervention'

16.00 - 17.30 Panel 3 Theory and Historigraphy

Chair: Pauline Fairclough (Bristol University)

Ildar Khannanov (Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University) 'Music Theory in the USSR in 1948: The Problem of Formalism'

Elina Viljanen (University of Helsinki) '1948 as the Midpoint of Listening: Asaf'ev's "Sounding Books"'

Christoph Flamm (Saarland University) 'Good and bad nationalism? Musical historiography facing national elements in Soviet and post-Soviet periods'

17.30 - 18.00 Discussion

Saturday 28 November

09.30 - 11.30 Panel 4 Composer and the State

Chair: Hubertus Jahn (Cambridge University)

Wolfgang Mende (Dresden, University of Technology) 'Music censorship in the era of NEP and cultural revolution: The case of Nikolay Roslavets'

Olga Digonskaya (The Glinka Museum of Music Culture and the Shostakovich Archive) 'On a "Marginal" Work by Shostakovich: Re-dating and a Change of Context'

Rachel Foulds (Goldsmith's College) 'Too bad? you could have made some money. The "Forgotten" works of Galina Ustvolskaya

Ivana Medic (University of Manchester) 'I predict a riot: Alfred SChnittle's First Symphony'

12.00 - 13.30 Panel 5, Subcultures

Chair: Pauline Fairclough (Bristol University)

Tom Miller (University of California, Berkeley) 'In Deaf Taiga: Shamanic Vocal Knowledge, the Geopoetics of Yukagir Song, and Ghosts of the Soviet Past in Upper Kolyma'

Yulia Karpova (Central European University, Budapest) 'Fashion, Jazz and Rock-N-Roll behind the Iron Curtain: to the question of the first Soviet youth "subculture"'

Machteld Venken (Catholic University of Leuven) 'Signing a meaning to war memory'

14.30 - 16.00 Panel 6, Myaskovsky, Prokofiev, Eisenstien

Chair: Marina Frolova-Walker (Cambridge University)

Patrick Zuk (University of Durham) Title to be confirmed

Vladimir Orlov (University of Cambridge) '"I am not Stalin. Stalin is the Soviet power!" The Father of Nation in Zdravitsa by Sergei Prokofiev'

Simon Morrison (Princeton University) "Fond 1929, Opis' 4"

16.30 - 17.30 Panel 6 (contd.)

Richard Taruskin (University of California, Berkeley), 'What's an awful song like you doing in a nice piece like this? (On Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto)

Kevin Bartig (Michigan State University) 'Eisenstein and the Politics of Perception'

Discussion, followed by wine reception and concert.

Convenors: Marina Frolova-Walker and Pauline Fairclough.

For registration, please contact Sam Mather: sjrm2@cam.ac.uk

Original call for papers follows


Conference summary

In recent years, and particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lifting of access restrictions in Soviet archives, the study of the relationship between the arts and power structures during the Soviet period has broadened and deepened considerably. Notably, the results of recent research have been diverging ever further from the top-down model of Soviet control over the arts that prevailed during the Cold War period. Archival research has revealed much more complex power structures, an intricate web of official and unofficial networks and convoluted patterns of patronage. This research has also uncovered the broad collective input into the construction of the ideology that shaped the arts during the Stalin period, and it has radically changed our perception of how musical works were produced, performed and received.

It was in 1948 that music was singled out for special attention, when the infamous “anti-formalist” Party Resolution was passed, denouncing leading composers (including Prokofiev and Shostakovich), banning their works, and spreading a wave of ideological repression across the whole of Soviet cultural landscape and beyond, to the countries that were to become the Eastern Bloc. While this had long been viewed as a straightforward imposition of Stalin’s fiat on powerless musicians, even this apparently classic “top-down” event has also recently been reconceived as the outcome of much more intricate power games, and much of the impetus arose from long-standing tensions within the musical world itself. The conference aims to extend and refine this conception, and also to understand the Resolution not as an isolated event but to locate it within the shifting web of relationships between music and the bureaucracy.

The conference will bring together internationally renowned scholars who vary in their disciplinary backgrounds, methodologies and choice of source materials. It is expected largely to draw a mixture of musicologists, historians, and cultural scholars. 1948 will serve as the main focus, and several panels will be devoted to the causes of the Resolution, its historical and political background, its impact on the composers directly criticised, and its broader implications for musical life in the Soviet Union and beyond. We hope to see a special emphasis on the various institutions that participated in the debacle, or suffered from it, but the conference will also feature a series of more personal perspectives, building up a broader view of how this specifically musical event fits into the landscape of late Stalinism.

However, the remit of the conference is much broader than this and papers will cover the span from the 1920s to the 1970s, venturing into folk and popular music and popular culture in general aside from the obvious area of high-art music, and papers will address wider historiographical, sociological, theoretical and philosophical issues pertaining to the conference topic.

Administrative help:
Samuel Mather (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)