A. V. Mikhailov on the Music in Austrian Culture


A. V. Mikhailov’s works on Austrian artistic culture of 18th-20th centuries are of great importance for the development of Russian musicology. Mikhailov uncompromisingly criticized the prevailing in Soviet science concept of “Austrian-German music”. According to his polemical thesis, “between German and Austrian cultures is about the same difference as between Russian and French”.
A deep connection with intellectual and artistic traditions of the Baroque was considered by the scientist as one of the main specifics of the Austrian art of this period. The view, crystallized in Austria under the influence of Catholicism, claim the triumph of eternal truth over all the mundane, mutable, being in the process of becoming. Such different composers as Mozart, Schubert and Bruckner argue in the art the outlook on the world as the perfection, the harmony and the beauty.
The idea of the specifics of the Austrian culture is revealed by Mikhailov through a number of parallels between the oeuvre of the great writers and composers. The statics of Anton Bruckner’s music he compares with the leisurely unfolding of events in the novels of Adalbert Stifter, “external” manifestation of the “Austrian Spirit” by Hugo von Hofmannsthal with the transformation of the Viennese waltz to the language of eternal beauty in Richard Strauss’ oeuvre. Creativity of Arnold Schoenberg the scientist relates to the phenomenon of Stefan George’s school.
Recognizing the opera “Lulu” as “the final vertex of the Austrian culture”, Mikhailov stressed the unity of the Austrian music tradition from Joseph Haydn’s oratorios to the tragic compositions of Alban Berg. For at least two centuries this tradition, along with the entire culture of Austria, remained faithful to Leibniz’ ideal of the perfect world, incarnated in a variety of dissimilar artistic masterpieces.