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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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Rimsky-Korsakov and Religious Syncretism

Rimsky-Korsakov and Religious Syncretism

(p.115) Chapter 2 Rimsky-Korsakov and Religious Syncretism
Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement

Simon Morrison

University of California Press

The first ever analogy between religion and music was drawn by Andrey Belïy, in his seminal 1902 work, “The Forms of Art.” In essence, he predicted that the arts, through their gravitation to music, would one day unite fallen humanity with God. Deeming poetry as inadequate for revealing the invisible reality underpinning the visible reality, he advocated Symbolism to shift from poetry to music. Through his work, he sought to trigger a cultural-spiritual revival. Belïy's unrealized novel on the ancient Slavonic chronicle about Kitezh, the Invisible City, was accomplished by another prominent artist of the Silver Age, composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The unique paradoxical influence on the synergy between religion and Symbolism, exerted by Rimsky-Korsakov, given his atheist conformist outlook, is discussed in this chapter. A one-on debate between Leo Tolstoy, a late-life pious and Rimsky-Korsakov, was termed by the former as a “face-to-face” encounter with “gloom.”

Keywords:   Andrey Belïy, The Forms of Art, visible reality, poetry, Kitezh, Leo Tolstoy

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