Anna S. Loseva
Junior Researcher at the Department of Periodicals;
editor of Journal of Moscow Conservatory
(Nauchnyj Vestnik Moskovskoj Konservatorii)

Translator’s notes

 Charles Burney

Sketch of the Life of Handel

Translation and commentary by Anna S. Loseva

 Sketch of the Life of Handel by the outstanding English music historian Charles Burney (1726–1814) is a part of his Account of the Musical Performances… in Commemoration of Handel written after the grandiose music festival which took place in London in 1784. The Sketch is a valuable document of the epoch: its author, having been acquainted with Handel during the last fifteen years of the composer’s life, included in it not only biographical facts, collected from several sources, but also his own evidences and observations. As an erudite, Burney puts Handel’s life and work into wide cultural context of the epoch: the Sketch contains information about the most significant performers, whom Handel cooperated with, and also references to the most important literature works — essays, pamphlets, tracts — which reflect music-theatre actuals of the age. Being possessed with non-insignificant writer’s abilities, Burney creates at the same time historical and literary work of considerable merit. The translation is supplied with detailed commentary.

Keywords: Handel, musical life of London in 18th century, Italian Opera, English Oratorio,
the Royal Academy, Giovanni Bononcini, Senesino, Faustina, Cuzzoni,
Johann Mattheson, Georg Philipp Telemann, Joseph Addison,
John Arbuthnot, John Byrom.


Inna A. Barsova
Honored Art Worker of the Russian Federation,
Doctor of Fine Arts,
Professor f the Music Theory Subdepartment
of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory

Seventy-eight Days and Nights in Prison:
Composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg

The article is aimed at commemoration of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s regular anniversary by bringing together the certain materials concerning the composer’s life and creative work as well as comprehending his fate and musical activity in perspective of tragic events in the middle of the 20th century. Weinberg’s rare gift as well as his life journey left special mark in the history of the Soviet music. The war, the death of the parents, the escape from Warsaw and thereafter from Minsk, the subsequent mass murder of the Jews — all these disasters ended with Weinberg’s arrest in the early morning of February 7, 1953.

The article throws light upon the family situation of the composer whose wife — Natalya Vovsi — was a niece of Miron Vovsi, head physician of the Soviet Army, who was soon arrested because of “the Doctors’ plot” case. Natalya was also a daughter of Solomon Mikhoels who was murdered at Stalin’s command in 1948. The article contains some previously unknown documents concerning Weinberg’s discharge and rehabilitation. Dmitry Shostakovich’s role in Weinberg’s both creative and life fate is traced in the article, as well as his efforts made for saving the arrested composer.

Weinberg was not an artist of an outright tragic mould. But the hidden theme of his creative work was fear of violence. The theme of violence and death sounds either exposed (as in his Fifth, Sixth and Eighth symphonies) or subdued. Another line of his creative work — relating to the Jewish music — is also connected with the theme of violence. During the Second World War Weinberg composed two cycles of «The Jewish Songs», setting to music the lines of the poets writing in Yiddish (published in 1944). In the autumn of 1953, several months after his discharge, Weinberg had an artistic experience of another kind. Dmitri Shostakovich asked Weinberg, a brilliant pianist and musician of exceptional delicacy, to play his new Tenth symphony four hands with him to Evgeny Mravinsky who was to conduct it, in order to let the conductor feel the right tempos. This performance, recorded by the tape-recorder, was included in the gramophone record “Shostakovich the Pianist” and remained the unique evidence of the epoch. While listening to Scherzo from the Tenth symphony (the link to the audio recording is attached), it is impossible to forget that the frightening image of evil was reproduced by the musicians whose lives were crossed by violence.

Keywords: Mieczyslaw Weinberg, cosmopolitism, Stalin, repressions, Mikhoels,
Shostakovich, Jewish music


Ekaterina S. Vlasova
Doctor of Fine Arts,
Professor of the Russian Music History Subdepartment
of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory

From the History of Soviet Music:
The Plenum of the Union of Soviet Composers
of the USSR in 1966, Devoted to Dodecaphony

In the early 1960s the Soviet musical life underwent substantial changes as compared with the period of the previous decade. During the Soviet period the norm of social existence was formed by an informational isolation of the population from events and trends that were unwelcome in the opinion of the leaders of the country. Many socially significant events were denied publicity, including the discussion of problems of contemporary music (problem of dodecaphony), which unfolded at the Fifth Plenum of the Directory of the Soviet Composers’ Union. The struggle which took place in the first days of spring of 1966 was not only for a new musical language. The composers of the “artistic” trend, Kara Karayev, Rodion Shchedrin, Jaan Raats and Boris Kluzner among them, as well as Nelli Shakhnazarova and Mikhail Byalik, struggled against crass ignorance draped in “correct” political wording. They were standing up for their right of freedom of artistic utterance.
It was much easier to follow dogmas, to write according to rules created whenever or by whosoever, to search for an incongruous ideal of “symphonies and operas based on song material”, to reject the category of the tragic as being appropriate for Soviet art.

Nevertheless, the significance of the “Dodecaphonic Plenum” consisted, first of all, in that the established practice of suppressing the knowledge of an unfavorable event or phenomenon would be shattered by the large-scale social significance of what occurred.

Keywords: history, Soviet Music, artistic trend, propagandistic trend, soviet composers,
unknown plenum, dodecaphony, ideology, technique, “the Rebellion of the Secretaries”


Yaroslav I. Stanishevskiy
Postgraduate student
of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory

On an Elusive System of Relationship:
Nikolay Roslavets and His Theory of “Key-relationship”
for “Synthetic Chords”

According to generally accepted ideas the method of “synthetic chords” by Roslavets is based on free alternation of transpositions of the selected complicated chord. But the detailed analysis of the composer’s manuscripts and sentences shows that his ideas were different. The synthetic chord is defined as the unique structure of six tones that includes the basic chords of classic harmony and represents the mode (or key). The relations of transpositions of synthetic chords are reflected in the form of original schemes of “key-relationship”. The principle of construction of such schemes is closely linked to the composer’s interests in the field of the music theory.

Keywords: N. A. Roslavets (Roslavetz), theory of relationship, system of key relationship,
synthetic chord (synthetaccord, synthetakkord, synthetischen Akkord),
the method of synthetic chords (synthetaccord technique) 


Vitaly A. Zhdanov
Postgraduate student
of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory

Northern German Spiritual Concert
of the Second Half of 17th Century:
on the Question of the Regional Tradition

The article examines the music of a number of Northern German composers worked in the three largest regional centers (Hamburg, Danzig and Lubeck) in the second half of the 17th century. The peculiarities of organization of church music in these cities and the factors that influenced the style of spiritual compositions are revealed. On the material of the existing publications and of the manuscripts transcribed by the author the comparative characteristics of the spiritual concerts by selected composers are given. The influence of Italian music is most noticeable in the works of M. Weckmann and Ch. Bernhard (Hamburg): the details of composition (mainly its melody) are created in relation with the scriptural text, and the use of means of musical rhetoric is especially widespread. The concerts by K. Forster and B. Erben (Danzig) display the extensive use of polyphonic methods and the predominance of neutral, feebly individualized melodies, that indicates the relationship of the both authors’ style with Franco- Flemish polyphony of the 16th century which was popular in their city. Works by F. Thunder and D. Buxtehude (Lubeck) occupy an intermediate position between conservatism of Danzig tradition and innovation of Hamburg authors. The deep originality of the genre of spiritual concert in each of the Northern Germany cities identified and described in detail in the article suggests the further studies of the vocal-instrumental Church music of the region as a set of different local traditions; single “school”, the existence of which it is conventional to speak of in the sphere of Northern German organ music, in this case is not found.

Keywords: North Germany, sacred concerto, Hamburg, Danzig,
Lübeck, baroque music, Ch. Bernhard, D. Buxtehude,
F. Tunder, K. Forster, B. Erben


Tatiana V. Tsaregradskaya
Doctor of Fine Arts,
Professor of the Russian Gnessin Academy of Music

Brian Ferneyhough: fascination of musical gesture

The article covers one of B. Ferneyhough key concepts — the concept of musical gesture. The composer describes gesture as a notion inseparably associated to figure — another important concept of his compositional theory. The main difference between the two is that of dynamism: gesture is dynamic while figure is static. There are several forms of musical realization of gesture: performer’s gesture can be the starting point for a tone row, musical gesture can manifest itself both as a motivic musical event amidst the background structures and as a special technique (like glissando) functioning as a motive.

Keywords: Brian Ferneyhough, “new complexity”, musical gesture, figure, energy


Vladimir P. Tchinaev
Doctor of Fine Arts,
Professor of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory,
Head of the History and Theory
of Music Performance Subdepartment

Rachmaninoff’s Pianism:
a Question of Stylistic Identity

There seem to be obvious ties between Rachmaninoff’s pianism and the poetics of early 20th- century salon concert performances. Yet in Rachmaninoff’s interpretations, the pseudo-romantic expressive “lexicon” of the waning age takes on basically different stylistic and semantic meanings. This paper deals with important features of Rachmaninoff’s performance style — such as aesthetic distance, irony and other. His inclination towards formal construction, his attention to sound architectonics, his tendency to intellectualize the whole process of the musical performance enabled his contemporaries (N. Medtner and B. Asafyev among others) to speak, in the 1940s, of the creation of “an original contemporary form of artistic pianism”. The trends followed by the art of performance in the next decade would confirm the organic relationship between the stylistic features of Rachmaninoff’s pianism and the historical context of 20th-century intellectualism in musical performance.

Keywords: Rachmaninoff as a pianist, pseudo-romantic salon performance,
aestheticism, intellectualism in musical performance


Alexander V. Komarov
Ph. D., Senior Researcher
of the Glinka National Museum Consortium
of Musical Culture

“The Sleeping Beauty”: Tchaikovsky, Siloti, Rachmaninoff

Four-hand piano versions of compositions, originally written for different performing forces, represent an extensive field of musical literature. Usually such works were realized by not the most significant musicians and with especially utilitarian aims, therefore science of the history of music underestimated them by tradition. But that kind of presentation of text was obligatory for compositions of various genres. It was of great importance for Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who made numerous four-hand piano arrangements of both his own and other composers’ works. The history of four-hand version of “The Sleeping Beauty”, prepared by Sergey Rachmaninoff and Alexander Siloti in common with the composer, seems a window on the world of piano arrangements. This paper is based on documents and covers the work of Rachmaninoff and Siloti in details. The extant documentary material allowed the author to appreciate the uniqueness of the idea of arranging the ballet for four hands, to characterize the mode of work and ethics in this sphere of musical process in Russia in the second half of the 19th century, and to consider the way of preparation of printed musical editions.

Keywords: Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Alexander Siloti, Sergey Rachmaninoff,
Pyotr Yurgenson, four-hand piano arrangement, ballet,
everyday history, publishing practice in Russia
in the 2nd half of the 19th century 


Alexander V. Naumov
Ph. D., Associate Professor
of the Russian Music History Subdepartment
of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory

S. Rachmaninoff and V. Nemirovitch-Danchenko.
From the History of a Void Cooperation

The article is devoted to the history of S. Rachmaninoff’s creative touches with V. Nemirovitch-Danchenko, one of the Moscow Art theatre leaders. In 1893 the great stage-director-in- future made a libretto for the opera “Aleko” and after that the composer met him from time to time in different situations until the middle of the 1920th, when all the contacts were interrupted. Side by side with such historical problems, some aspects of the composer’s status in the drama theatre are treated in the article. “The Rose and the Cross”, a drama by A. Block, made biographical and aesthetic contexts meet. The staging of this unfinished work in the Art theatre in 1916-1918 revealed all the main hidden contradictions and conflicts both among musicians and stage-managers and among Rachmaninoff and his epoch.

Keywords: Rachmaninoff, Nemirovitch-Danchenko, Moscow Art theatre, theatrical music


Ekaterina M. Kuznetsova
Concertmaster of the Children’s Creativity Center «Strogino»

S. Rachmaninoff’s Charity in Exile:
Touches to the Portrait of the Composer

S. V. Rachmaninoff in exile did a great charity job for his compatriots both in Soviet Russia and abroad. In this article the already known facts concerning Rachmaninoff’s interaction with American Relief Administration (ARA) and his help to immigrant students are given continuation: new facts and documents and previously unpublished Rachmaninoff’s correspondence with M. Fedorov and Т. Gano allow to add new touches to the portrait of the composer. A special place in the article holds the history of Rachmaninoff’s help to A. Glazunov.

Keywords: 5. V. Rachmaninoff, emigration, charity, S. M. Zernova, M. M. Fedorov, A. K. Glazunov, Committee for the Education of Russian Youth in Exile, Committee to Provide Higher Education to Young People Abroad, American Relief Administration (ARA)