Russian Emigré Culture: Conservatism or Evolution?

18-19 November 2011

Saarland University (Saarbrücken, Germany), Department of Musicology / Department of Art History / Department of Slavonic Studies

Scientific Committee: PD Dr. Christoph Flamm, Prof. Dr. Henry Keazor, Prof. Dr. Roland Marti

Conference Organization: Christoph Flamm

The Russian emigration is a phenomenon that had a considerable impact on the cultural life of the 20th century, especially in Europe. Until recently research on Russian emigration was mainly concentrated on the first wave after the October Revolution. A holistic look at Russian emigration is a rather recent phenomenon in spite of the fact that the different waves of emigration interacted in many ways. A critical and objective assessment of the cultural achievements of the Russian emigration was hampered for much of the 20th century by ideological prejudice on both sides and it is especially the interaction between the cultural life in the Soviet Union and in the emigration that could not be treated adequately. It is only now that the Russian emigration of the 20th century can be analyzed without ideological bias and in a collaborative effort of scholars from Russia and abroad. In this context it is also important that many archival holdings in Russia are finally becoming accessible.

The planned international conference aims to address the Russian emigration of the 20th century from the perspective of various disciplines. The main questions are:

– Is there a marked tendency towards conservatism in the cultural life of the Russian emigration due to the desire to maintain the inherited cultural identity?

– Was the loss of “Mother Russia” decisive for this?

– Are the so-called “conservative” aesthetic positions in literature, the performing arts and in music conservative when compared to the new surroundings or only when compared with developments in the Soviet Union?

– Were Russian traditions only perpetuated or did they also evolve – or are there even tendencies to turn the wheel back to the 19th century?

– What are the links – if any – between Russian artists in the emigration and their Soviet colleagues?

– How did the emigrants fit into the cultural life of their countries of adoption?

These and other questions will be addressed in the conference. The first day will concentrate on the historical and socio-political background and will mainly deal with literature, theatre and the arts. The topic of the second day will be Russian music. The conference is part of a week-long international festival devoted to music of the Russian emigration. It will present compositions by Prokof’ev, Rachmaninov, Stravinskij, Grečaninov, Čerepnin, Denisov, Schnittke and many others. Compositions by Nikolaj Medtner who died in 1951 will be featured especially.

Conference languages are German and English. Scholars are invited to submit proposals for papers of 25 minutes with a short abstract (max. 30 lines) and CV (max. 15 lines) before 1 May 2011 to:

PD Dr. Christoph Flamm

Institut für Musikwissenschaft

Universität des Saarlandes

Geb. C 5.2

66123 Saarbrücken


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