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Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement$
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Simon Morrison

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520229433

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520229433.001.0001

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Chaikovsky and Decadence

Chaikovsky and Decadence

(p.45) Chapter 1 Chaikovsky and Decadence
Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement

Simon Morrison

University of California Press

The Russo-Japanese War and “Bloody Sunday”— these two towering political developments spelt the end of autocratic rule in Russia. Signs of an incumbent decadence was reflected in contemporary symbolist literature, which eventually came to advocate revolutionary upheaval. The only composer at the time to give voice to a growing sense of unease in Russian society, Pyotr Chaikovsky, posthumously acquired cult status among the Symbolists. This chapter appraises the mingling of Chaikovsky's works with the decadent school. Although Kitsch elements held sway over his works, Chaikovsky was never an exclusively kitsch composer. A critique of his last opera, Iolanthe, went so far as to label Chaikovsky the prodigious herald of “the music of the future.” Despite claiming Chaikovsky's work as less innovative than Wagner's, the critic, N. Suvorovsky, posits that both composers combined opposing creative principles in their compositions.

Keywords:   Bloody Sunday, revolutionary upheaval, Russian society, Klistch, creative principle

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