Catalogue


Defining Russia musically : historical and hermeneutical essays /
Richard Taruskin.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1997.
description
xxxii, 561 p. : ill., music.
ISBN
0691011567 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1997.
isbn
0691011567 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
1159383
 
Copy 2 Gift Princeton University Press
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Richard Taruskin has again demonstrated that anything he writes leads to serious thinking and reevaluation of hitherto held views. His erudition and mastery of the field as well as his ability to see beyond the surface the implications not easily grasped by a non-Russian make this work required reading for anyone seeking a full understanding of music in Russia."-- Milos Velimirovic, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia "It is most unusual for a top-ranking scholar to write both broad and deep, for the general public and for a specialized circle, in a field as technically demanding as music. In this new book, Taruskin continues to remake the map of Russian music by focusing on the Russians' experience with 'outsideness.' On the border between East and West, Russian culture has always been better at absorption and transformation than at isolation and exclusion. With its implicit hope that Westerners might become responsible, informed 'others' to the Russian tradition, Taruskin's study covers several centuries of this generous eclecticism so that it reads like a Russian novel. It is a spectacular and timely project."-- Caryl Emerson, Princeton University
Flap Copy
"It is most unusual for a top-ranking scholar to write both broad and deep, for the general public and for a specialized circle, in a field as technically demanding as music. In this new book, Taruskin continues to remake the map of Russian music by focusing on the Russians' experience with 'outsideness.' On the border between East and West, Russian culture has always been better at absorption and transformation than at isolation and exclusion. With its implicit hope that Westerners might become responsible, informed 'others' to the Russian tradition, Taruskin's study covers several centuries of this generous eclecticism so that it reads like a Russian novel. It is a spectacular and timely project."-- Caryl Emerson, Princeton University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-10:
The prolific Taruskin (Univ. of California, Berkeley) has produced another provocative, polemical, revisionist work. Explicitly hermeneutic, the book considers the entire landscape of Russian art music, from the 18th century to the late 20th. It is a bit of a patchwork; portions were composed originally for a variety of purposes, and some sections have appeared in print before. However, Taruskin has been mostly successful in pulling the pieces together, and the resulting shape seems oddly congruent to Russian music itself. The book has three parts. The seven essays in part 1 provide a history of Russian music. In part 2 Taruskin attempts to define what is "self" in Russian music and what is "other" and argues for the centrality of these concepts. Part 3, longer than the first two parts together, discusses four composers the author views as seminal: Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Shostakovich. Taruskin's hallmarks are evident throughout: research of almost astonishing breadth, impatience with facile views and those who propound them, and contempt for formalist modes of analysis that ignore the extramusical. This is an important, challenging book; no other book in English covers this ground with equal depth or brilliance. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. B. J. Murray; University of Alabama
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1997-03-31:
In his dense and closely-argued collection of essays, UC-Berkeley music professor Taruskin shows why he is the leading American expert in Russian musicological matters. In the first section of the book, Taruskin looks at those particularly Russian factors (state, folk tunes, a conservative tendency) that influenced figures like Lvov, Glinka, the Mighty Five (Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Cui). But he also addresses the imported influences, like the craze in Russia for Italian opera. The four final chapters that originated in his 1993 Christian Gauss seminars at Princeton, analyze Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. Taruskin knows his subject very well, but that doesn't mean he always likes it: he is especially devastating about Stravinsky's "fascism and anti-Semitism," quoting a number of offensive passages from the composer's letters, where he scorns "Jew-Kraut stage designs," which were expurgated by Stravinsky's image-conscious editor Robert Craft in the official published correspondence. Taruskin is also good on the "animal sex" themes in Shostakovich's operas, and there are amusing details about Italian and French singers in 19th-century Russia, especially an unhappily married soprano, Adelina Patti, and mezzo Pauline Viardot, who was banned from Russia for having "excessively electrified the youth." Tchaikovsky's unique, complex status is well discerned also, as well as Glinka's pioneering orientalism. The many acrid attacks on fellow musicologists (particularly British ones) should have been cut as it's the kind of infighting that induces dire boredom in readers who are not themselves tenured professors in musicology. Still, this is a major and challenging contribution to the field, with much valuable information. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1997-05-01:
The term hermeneutics is omitted from most recently published music dictionaries, but it is making a comeback in scholarly musicological studies. Increasingly, there is an attempt to understand works in their historical contexts rather than by application of possibly inappropriate analytic formulas or culturally biased aesthetic judgments, which are cited and "deconstructed" so as to make way for new interpretations. Taruskin, the leading American Russian music scholar (Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions, LJ 12/95), here collects 14 essays on Russian art music and Russianess in general, most based on lectures he gave in 1993 and 1994. His usual originality, passionate arguments, and deep, broad research are present as Taruskin treats music by and scholarship on Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Stravinsky (again), Shostakovich, and others. For academic and large public libraries.‘Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"When this controversial book first appeared in hardback, it sparked a debate . . . both because of and despite the way it tore into big names in the musicological world. Now it seems like a landmark. . . Richard Taruskin raises important questions about how cultural and artistic judgements are made."-- Literary Review
"A passionate vision of what Russian music has meant both as an expression and as a shaping force of the country's character. . . . [Taruskin is] an exceptionally gifted critic. . . . [T]he connections between technique and expression are formidably argued, and it is the capacity to do this, with patience and depth of understanding and with a vast knowledge of the literature, that gives Taruskin's criticism its quality."-- John Warrack, Time Literary Supplement
"More than a musicologist, Richard Taruskin is a cultural critic who deserves non-scholarly readers. His brilliant and alarmingly timely book Defining Russia Musically is about the battle for a nation's soul--fought between Europe and Asia, modernity and primitivism--in the music of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich."-- Peter Conrad, The Observer
One of Choice 's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1997
"Richard Taruskin has again demonstrated that anything he writes leads to serious thinking and reevaluation of hitherto held views. His erudition and mastery of the field as well as his ability to see beyond the surface the implications not easily grasped by a non-Russian make this work required reading for anyone seeking a full understanding of music in Russia."-- Milos Velimirović, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia
"Taruskin's hallmarks are evident throughout: research of almost astonishing breadth, impatience with facile views and those who propound them, and contempt for formalist modes of analysis that ignore the extramusical. This is an important, challenging book; no other book in English covers this ground with equal depth or brilliance."-- Choice
"Taruskin's work is far too rich and multi-layered, steeped in Russian intellectual history, literature, and culture, even to synopsize in a short review. . . . His newest book is essential for musicologists wishing to understand Russia's place in music, and for Slavists wishing to understand music's place in Russia."-- Robert W. Oldani, The Russian Review
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 1997
Library Journal, May 1997
Choice, October 1997
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
The world-renowned musicologist Richard Taruskin has devoted much of his career to helping listeners appreciate Russian and Soviet music in new and sometimes controversial ways. "Defining Russia Musically represents one of his landmark achievements: here Taruskin uses music, together with history and politics, to illustrate the many ways in which Russian national identity has been constructed, both from within Russia and from the Western perspective. He contends that it is through music that the powerful myth of Russia's "national character" can best be understood. Russian art music, like Russia itself, Taruskin writes, has "always been tinged or tainted ... with an air of alterity--sensed, exploited, bemoaned, reveled in, traded on, and defended against both from within and from without." The author's goal is to explore this assumption of otherness in an all-encompassing work that re-creates the cultural contexts of the folksong anthologies of the 1700s, the operas, symphonies, and ballets of the 1800s, the modernist masterpieces of the 1900s, and the hugely fraught but ambiguous products of the Soviet period.Taruskin begins by
Unpaid Annotation
Richard Taruskin has again demonstrated that anything he writes leads to serious thinking and reevaluation of hitherto held views.... Required reading for anyone seeking a full understanding of music in Russia. Milos Velimirovia, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia The world-renowned musicologist Richard Taruskin has devoted much of his career to helping listeners appreciate Russian and Soviet music in new and sometimes controversial ways. Defining Russia Musically represents one of his landmark achievements: here Taruskin uses music, together with history and politics, to illustrate the many ways in which Russian national identity has been constructed, both from within Russia and from the Western perspective. He contends that it is through music that the powerful myth of Russia's national character can best be understood. Russian art music, like Russia itself, Taruskin writes, has always [been] tinged or tainted ... with an air of alterity sensed, exploited, bemoaned, reveled in, traded on, and defended against both from within and from without. The author's goal is to explore this assumption of otherness in an all- encompassing work that re-creates the cultural contexts of the folksong anthologies of the 1700s, the operas, symphonies, and ballets of the 1800s, the modernist masterpieces of the 1900s, and the hugely fraught but ambiguous products of the Soviet period. Taruskin begins by showing how enlightened aristocrats, reactionary romantics, and the theorists and victims of totalitarianism have variously fashioned their vision of Russian society in musical terms. He then examines how Russia as a whole shaped its identity in contrast to an East during the age of its imperialist expansion, and in contrast to two different musical Wests, Germany and Italy, during the formative years of its national consciousness. The final section, expanded from a series of Christian Gauss seminars presented at Princeton in 1993, focuses on four individual composers, each characterized both as a self-consciously Russian creator and as a European, and each placed in perspective within a revealing hermeneutic scheme. In the culminating chapters Chaikovsky and the Human, Scriabin and the Superhuman, Stravinsky and the Subhuman, and Shostakovich and the Inhuman Taruskin offers especially thought-provoking insights, for example, on Chaikovsky's status as the last great eighteenth-century composer and on Stravinsky's espousal of formalism as a reactionary, literally counterrevolutionary move.
Main Description
The world-renowned musicologist Richard Taruskin has devoted much of his career to helping listeners appreciate Russian and Soviet music in new and sometimes controversial ways.Defining Russia Musicallyrepresents one of his landmark achievements: here Taruskin uses music, together with history and politics, to illustrate the many ways in which Russian national identity has been constructed, both from within Russia and from the Western perspective. He contends that it is through music that the powerful myth of Russia's "national character" can best be understood. Russian art music, like Russia itself, Taruskin writes, has "always [been] tinged or tainted ... with an air of alterity--sensed, exploited, bemoaned, reveled in, traded on, and defended against both from within and from without." The author's goal is to explore this assumption of otherness in an all-encompassing work that re-creates the cultural contexts of the folksong anthologies of the 1700s, the operas, symphonies, and ballets of the 1800s, the modernist masterpieces of the 1900s, and the hugely fraught but ambiguous products of the Soviet period.Taruskin begins by showing how enlightened aristocrats, reactionary romantics, and the theorists and victims of totalitarianism have variously fashioned their vision of Russian society in musical terms. He then examines how Russia as a whole shaped its identity in contrast to an "East" during the age of its imperialist expansion, and in contrast to two different musical "Wests," Germany and Italy, during the formative years of its national consciousness. The final section, expanded from a series of Christian Gauss seminars presented at Princeton in 1993, focuses on four individual composers, each characterized both as a self-consciously Russian creator and as a European, and each placed in perspective within a revealing hermeneutic scheme. In the culminating chapters--Chaikovsky and the Human, Scriabin and the Superhuman, Stravinsky and the Subhuman, and Shostakovich and the Inhuman--Taruskin offers especially thought-provoking insights, for example, on Chaikovsky's status as the "last great eighteenth-century composer" and on Stravinsky's espousal of formalism as a reactionary, literally counterrevolutionary move.
Main Description
The world-renowned musicologist Richard Taruskin has devoted much of his career to helping listeners appreciate Russian and Soviet music in new and sometimes controversial ways. Defining Russia Musically represents one of his landmark achievements: here Taruskin uses music, together with history and politics, to illustrate the many ways in which Russian national identity has been constructed, both from within Russia and from the Western perspective. He contends that it is through music that the powerful myth of Russia's "national character" can best be understood. Russian art music, like Russia itself, Taruskin writes, has "always [been] tinged or tainted ... with an air of alterity--sensed, exploited, bemoaned, reveled in, traded on, and defended against both from within and from without." The author's goal is to explore this assumption of otherness in an all-encompassing work that re-creates the cultural contexts of the folksong anthologies of the 1700s, the operas, symphonies, and ballets of the 1800s, the modernist masterpieces of the 1900s, and the hugely fraught but ambiguous products of the Soviet period. Taruskin begins by showing how enlightened aristocrats, reactionary romantics, and the theorists and victims of totalitarianism have variously fashioned their vision of Russian society in musical terms. He then examines how Russia as a whole shaped its identity in contrast to an "East" during the age of its imperialist expansion, and in contrast to two different musical "Wests," Germany and Italy, during the formative years of its national consciousness. The final section, expanded from a series of Christian Gauss seminars presented at Princeton in 1993, focuses on four individual composers, each characterized both as a self-consciously Russian creator and as a European, and each placed in perspective within a revealing hermeneutic scheme. In the culminating chapters--Chaikovsky and the Human, Scriabin and the Superhuman, Stravinsky and the Subhuman, and Shostakovich and the Inhuman--Taruskin offers especially thought-provoking insights, for example, on Chaikovsky's status as the "last great eighteenth-century composer" and on Stravinsky's espousal of formalism as a reactionary, literally counterrevolutionary move.
Table of Contents
Others: A Mythology and a Demurrer (By Way of Preface)
Defining Russia Musically (Seven Mini-Essays)p. 1
N. A. Lvov and the Folkp. 3
M. I. Glinka and the Statep. 25
P. I. Chaikovsky and the Ghettop. 48
Who Am I? (And Who Are You?)p. 61
Safe Harborsp. 81
After Everythingp. 99
Objectivesp. 105
Self and Otherp. 111
How the Acorn Took Rootp. 113
"Entoiling the Falconet"p. 152
Ital'yanshchinap. 186
Hermeneutics of Russian Music: Four Cruxesp. 237
Chaikovsky and the Human: A Centennial Essayp. 239
Scriabin and the Superhuman: A Millennial Essayp. 308
Stravinsky and the Subhumanp. 360
Shostakovich and the Inhumanp. 468
Indexp. 545
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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