Often seen in totalitarian societies such as Nazi Germany, Soviet Union and China in modern ages (Rottenest, 1 981 this kind of repression is regarded as a characteristic of undemocratic society (Mullahs, 1984) and is broadly retrieved for hindering artistic development and freedom of expression (Martin, 2012). Hence it seems natural to tend to be over-pessimistic about artistic achievement under dictatorship. However, the life Of Russian composer Dimmit Catastrophic during the Soviet Period shows us a different situation.Catastrophic lived through a special and turbulent historical period of Russia. He was born in a revolutionary family, experienced the Second World War and the Civil War, built most of his career under threats of political purges and intensive cultural control during Stalin’s governance, but still maintained his life and extended his musical reaction to the period when the huge totalitarian regime of Soviet Union began to collapse after Stalin’s death (Byrne, 2004; Mullahs, 1 984; Volvo, 2004).Over his career, he enjoyed recognition and awards but also went through two denunciations from the state (Mullahs, 1984).
Nevertheless he is still regarded as one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, not only within Russia, but also in the international music community (Byrne, 2004; Kay, 1971; White, 2008).The strong connection between political circumstances and his musical career, the unusual fluctuation of his legislation with the government, and the artistic excellence he still managed to achieve all make his case interesting and suitable for investigation on the interaction between political repression and artistic creation. Www Therefore, this research paper will focus on the artistic development under totalitarian governments as well as on the influence of modern cultural regulation through study on the case of Catastrophic.As the first denunciation in 1 936 can be thought as the most vital and fateful one in Catholicism’s life (White, 2008), in which case the whole process and many heartsickness of political repression under totalitarian regime and dictatorship can be observed, the paper will primarily focus on the repression actions imposed on Catastrophic by the Soviet government and his reactions in the first denunciation, as well as the impact caused on his composition, taking Symphony NO. 5 in D minor, Pop. 47 for example.
At the end the paper will highlight several issues observed in the first denunciation and question the possibility of artistic excellence under cultural repression by connecting the characteristics of political repression and the nature of musical creation. Backgrounds before the first denunciation When the young composer initially began his musical creation at the beginning of sass, the cultural situation of Soviet Join was at one of several free and open periods of its whole history. Linen’s New Economy policy was being conducted, allowing a certain degree of expression freedom (White, 2008).The government also announced an open cultural policy particularly for artists’ creation (Deduce-Washman, 1998). In addition, the avian-garden influence from the West and the growing experimental artistic atmosphere in Russia were thought to accord with revolutionary spirit, which accompanied the establishment of the country and was still tolerated by the government during this period (Mullahs, 1 984; Volvo, 2004). As a result, contemporary music thrived in Russia before Stalin came into power.Closely guided by Alexander Mostly, a significant futurist composer, during Catholicism’s study at Petrography Conservatory, the young composer was influenced by such trend of modernism in the scene of Russian music and imitated Igor Stravinsky during his early career (Pay, 2000). However, tendencies of political repression can be already observed at this period.
A plan to promote music with correct ideology was suggested under Linen’s idea of cultural pragmatism (Fern, 2004 Volvo, 2004) that arts should serve the purpose of political propaganda.This opinion of culture would be adopted later by Stalin over his decades of governance and also applied to deal with Catastrophic. Moreover, the concept of ‘formalism’ had aroused versus ‘utilitarian’ at this time as well (Mullahs, 1984; Volvo, 2004), although they were still equally debated and there hadn’t been an official attitude towards the discussion. Therefore, we can see that the main ideological tools for cultural control had been plopped before it was actually made use of several years later.
Catastrophic himself had also felt the pressure from politics even before the first denunciation.One representative of Russian avian-garden artists, Vladimir Makeovers, who had succeed obtaining tolerance even acknowledgement from the government by showing political loyalty, committed suicide at 1 930, which shocked the entire intelligentsia of the Soviet Union as a warning, including Catastrophic (Volvo, 2004). Since his father died at 1922, the Catholicism’s financial situation had been poor.
The only economic source f Catastrophic is commission from the Party (Volvo, 2004), which exposed him to the danger of political suppression. In fact, several of his pieces at this time did show some characteristic of conformity.For example, his Symphony No-2 in B major (“To October”), which is required by the head Of the Propaganda Department of the State Music Publishing House to celebrate the 10th anniversary of October Revolution, is thought to integrate Party-proved contents in contemporary form (Volvo, 2004).
Www The atmosphere was getting increasingly tenser politically and culturally since the sass. To establish and consolidate his dictatorship, Stalin launched the First purge in 1 934, in which the intelligentsia is a primary target (Deduce- Washman, 1998; White, 2008).Along came a scheme of tightened control over artistic creation and expression with the infamous Resolution of 1 932, in which “social realism” was confirmed to be the official style of arts and direct intervention in creative works was affirmed (Fern, 2004; Mullahs, 1984; Schwartz, 1972).
Moreover, the formation of Composers Union of USSR (which would play an important role in Catholicism’s first denunciation as a lower of the Communist Party in musician community) in 1932 further constrained freedom of expression and ensured musical creation under the state’s watch (White, 2008).Repression, critics and reaction One of the most significant and fateful pieces Of Catastrophic, Lady Macbeth of the Moments District, was premiered under this situation in Leningrad in January 1934 and, unexpectedly, received mass approval from both musical critic and public audience with its creative musical style in terms of the untraditional form and orchestration (Deduce-Washman, 1998; Mullahs, 1984; “Catastrophic & the Guns,” 1942; Volvo, 2004).However, the success of this opera was abruptly stopped more than two years later by an editorial called “Muddle Instead of Music” on the official Communist Party newspaper Pravda, which triggered the first denunciation on Catastrophic.
Suspected to be drafted by Stalin himself after he attended one performance of the opera (Deduce-Washman, 1 998; Catastrophic, 1984; “Catastrophic & the Guns,” 1942; Volvo, 2004), this editorial fiercely criticized Lady Macbeth of the Moments District in terms of both its musical characteristics (dissonant harmony, incomprehensible texture and erotic plotting) and its theoretical treasures (formalism and naturalism) (“Muddle instead of music,” 1936; Volvo, 2004). It also questioned the composer’s borrowing from American tradition in terms of Jazz elements in this opera (Deduce- Washman, 1998).Following the voice of the party, more critics aroused immediately towards Catastrophic and the opera. Articles were published on public media as well as musical reviews attacking Catastrophic for being a formalist (Volvo, 2004). The Composer’s Union even held a conference lasting for three days on this issue (Deduce-Washman, 1998). More substantial actions are taken simultaneously, too.
Catholicism’s works disappear from the stage. His family and supporters are arrested, exiled, tortured and even executed (Deduce;Washman, 1998; Volvo, 2004; White, 2008).Catholicism’s reaction is mixed. On the one hand, he went through the deepest fear of the danger of his life, which can be reflected by his immediate conforming behaviors. He publicly agreed that Pravda “knew more about music than he did” (“Catastrophic & the Guns,” 1942); His fourth symphony was withdrawn and the plan for a symphony to resume his music career is announced (which is the controversial 5th symphony). In his conversations tit Solomon Volvo, he also talked about his grievance under threat and force and even consideration of suicide (Catastrophic, 1984).
On the other hand, he did express his opposition and displease in a subtle and less noticed way (Deduce-Washman, 1998). When Stalin wanted to know whether he agreed with the critic of Pravda, he replied that he had no opposition to most of it but could not understand the rest (Volvo, 2004). He called his finished 4th symphony a “creative reply to unjust criticism” (Catastrophic, 1984), which makes his title of the later 5th symphony “An artist’s creative response to just criticism” more like ironic.For Catastrophic, what matters the most seems to be the criticism for him being a formalist, which he had denied even before the denunciation (Volvo, 2004). He also never admitted it till the end Of his life (Deduce-Washman, 1998). Interestingly, the composer community reactions are split, too.
Although the criticism of the government is rejected and mocked among the intelligentsia including Gorky (which surprised Stalin) (Volvo, 2004; White, 2008), Catastrophic was quickly abandoned by some groups of artists, including his teacher Macmillan Steinberg (Deduce- Washman, 1998).Features, causes and effects This case is not unique in terms of political repression over the Soviet period, especially during the two purges launched by Stalin (Schwartz, 1972). Actually another denunciation did happen on Catastrophic during the second purge (Mullahs, 1984; Volvo, 2004). But it is rather unusual and puzzling for several reasons. First, the Party had not directly interfered in this work until it had been highly praised for more than two years. In fact, a positive review of this opera had been published on one of official newspapers before the critic on Pravda (Volvo, 2004).
Second, the same degree of criticism had not been en when Catholicism’s first opera The Nose was performed, which also possessed musical characteristics against the standard in the Pravda editorial like atonality as Lady Macbeth did. Although The Nose was attacked by the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians and banned soon after its premiere (Disseminate, 1 998; White, 2008; Wilson, 1994), the criticism on it was never imposed by a center Party organ and was never linked so closely to political and ideological meaning as we saw in the Lady Macbeth case.And finally, the severity of this denunciation was not in accord with the importance and influence of this piece of work. The storyline of the opera was adopted from a famous Russian novel (Deduce-Washman, 1 998), which did not carry much political meaning. Catastrophic himself had not been a very significant figure in international composer community at that time, who did not have foreign connection either (Volvo, 2004). There seems to be no reason for such an intense attack from such a high level of the authority.These unusual aspects should be taken into consideration when discussing causes of this denunciation, along with the social background which has been introduced before. We can see there are both planned and accidental elements in the denunciation’s occurrence.
The cultural control scheme based on the idea of “social realism” was just proposed at that moment. Stalin probably needed an example to illustrate to the whole cultural community (Deduce-Washman, 1998; Volvo, 2004).Catastrophic could be a good target: he was still young and fresh among artists, which means there would not be high pressure on the Party caused by the denunciation from the Russian intelligentsia as there would have be If Stalin had targeted Gorky, although he had been already at a relatively influential position (Deduce-Washman, 1998). His last controversial opera The Nose had provoked discussions among people (White, 2008), which might also draw the Party attention.Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that Stalin planned to attend the particular performance on the particular day out of his propaganda needs, given that the critic on Pravda came right after Stalin’s attendance. Unfortunately, the story presented by Catastrophic heavily included sex and eroticism, which irritated Stalin personally.
In addition, the regime portrayed in the opera could be easily associated with he Soviet Union (Deduce-Washman, 1 998) and the individualism the work reflected conflicted the agricultural acclimatization which Stalin was pursuing.The musical style deviated significantly from Stalin’s taste too, who preferred works of romanticism (Disseminate, 1998). All of these discarded features probably worsened the severity of the denunciation afterwards substantially. In conclusion, the propaganda needs of the party and the www inconformity between the work and Stalin’s personal preferences both leaded to the denouncement, in which the political reasons should be decisive.
However, the consequence on Catastrophic himself may be the most unusual in this case.Although he and his friends all expected death threats from the government, the Party did not directly impose any physical torture on him. Instead, he was allowed to continue his work in film music, in which his composition for Great Citizen was even recognized by Stalin (Volvo, 2004). And he was still sent as the representative of the Soviet Union to international music conferences by the government (Byrne, 2004). Similarly, the reason for sparing him can be also explained by combination of the Party propaganda needs and Stalin’s personal matters.
Stalin needed him to serve the purpose of ideological education (Volvo, 2004) through cinema. And he had to concern about international resonance while he was building the national identity of the Soviet Union. The looseness is also because Stalin had achieved his goals of cultural control by this denunciation: set the standard of official style “social realism”, denied formalism completely and gave the entire musical community a serious warning (Fern, 2004; Mullahs, 1984; Volvo, 2004). Gryphon No. 5 and its controversial meaning Although Catholicism’s life was preserved, his musical creation seems to be indeed.Over the next year, he only finished a very small amount of composition (Kay, 1971; Strayed, 2013). The return came in 1937 with his symbolic composition Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Pop.
47, which was accepted and praised by the Party as a model of social realism and made him into the most important Russian composer in his generation (Hubbard, 1990). Titled as “An artist’s creative response to just criticism”, this symphony seems to be composed to show Catholicism’s apology and conformity to the Party (Strayed, 2013). U However, scholars have been debating about the true meaning of this homophony for the last decades (Hubbard, 1990; Strayed, 2013). While some regard this composition as Catholicism’s effort to meet the Party demand because of the symphony simplicity and romantic features (Mullahs, 1 984; “Catastrophic & the Guns,” 1942), others tend to believe that Catastrophic was actually expressing his discontent towards the Party’s denouncement on his works through the tension and tragic mood built in the piece (Volvo, 2004; White, 2008).Also there are arguments asserting this symphony might be less relevant to the first denunciation as people think. Hubbard (1990) emphasized on the coherence reflected by comparing the 5th symphony to his previous works.
He says the 5th symphony is an integration and evolution of the traits in his early work, especially those from conservative style which Catastrophic adopted increasingly after his 2nd symphony. What Hubbard means by “conservative style” may include the symphony traditional Sonata form with four movements and definite tonality which is emphasized early at the opening (Kay, 1971).More interestingly, this symphony actually still did not meet the Party’s standard, as it did not embrace Russian folk music, include any nationalist idea or heroism theme, or keep a consistently positive mood (Hubbard, 1 990; Kay, 1971). Therefore, it is suggested that this symphony was more an autobiographical work (Strayed, 2013) or a defense on the existence of tragedy in symphony (Kay, 1971) than a reply or protest to the Party.Although people still cannot decide the actual message Catastrophic intended to send when he wrote the symphony, it can be seen that the meaning of a musical piece can be ambiguous even in an expressive symphony, especially with a complex political background as the Stalinist period. In fact, after the first denouncement and the fifth symphony, Catastrophic www 10 did turn to more ambiguous musical forms, mainly chamber music, to ensure his composition uncontroversial (Mullahs, 1984).His piano quintet won the Stalin Prize in 1941 (White, 2008). Explanation for Catholicism’s maintained artistic excellence Observed throughout the process of the first repression on Catastrophic, there are several characteristics of political repression on arts this paper intend to highlight.
The first is the value of pragmatism embedded in the official actions. Arts and artists may not be threatened primarily cause Of ideological discomforting (although it is Often officially claimed as so).Instead, they can be repressed due to practical needs like propaganda purpose, and it is also reasonable that they are preserved for similar needs like international image of the country. Therefore, the denunciations on artists are very likely to be planned, as we can see in the Catastrophic case.
As a result, there can be lack of clarity in the official artistic style, which gives the government flexibility so that the practical purpose can be better served (Mullahs, 1984).As analyzed before, inconsistency between the announcement of Lady Macbeth and the acceptance of the fifth symphony can be observed, which demonstrated that the definition of social realism and the criticism of formalist is not sophisticated enough, making it possible to apply these ideas whenever the Party feels the need (Rottenest, 1981). This flexibility is an advantage for the government but can benefit artists under the repression as well, as it makes positive interpretation of their artistic works possible.Also one needs to notice that under dictatorship the personal issues of the ruler can play an important part as well, which may considerably influence the degree and the method of political denunciation as reflected by the Catastrophic case.
This effect makes actions of repression more likely to show features of randomness and can be another factor in the inconsistency of the official attitude and fluctuation of the relationship between the composer and the government in this specific case. Several reasons for Catholicism’s success in survival and use of his musical gift can be discovered from the characteristics discussed above.One Of the most important factors is the cultural pragmatism embedded in the Party’s ultra administration, which provided Catastrophic with practical value for the government (like film music composition) and ability to balance the relationship with the government against a totally vulnerable position, as the government has to take the composer’s international reputation and the country’s international image into consideration, especially when the regime is newly established or the global political atmosphere is competitive, which is exactly the Soviet Union’s situation when Catastrophic was denounced for the first time.