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On Russian Music$
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Richard Taruskin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249790

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249790.001.0001

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Religious Art of an Atheist

(p.179) 14 Kitezh
On Russian Music

Richard Taruskin

University of California Press

Rimsky's positivistic and materialistic worldview was well known to his contemporaries, and thoroughly formed his artistic beliefs and teaching. Rimsky curiously asserted that art is nothing more than technical know-how, an enhancement in which it corresponds with enhanced expression. This chapter appraises the paradoxical reflections that religious arts, generated from a non-religious source, emitted, and seeks to identify the causes behind this apparent discontinuity between Rimsky's belief and expression. Rimsky was not above churning out church choruses for performance by the Imperial Court Chapel Choir, at whose school he taught part-time exactly until he qualified for a pension. He quoted Orthodox Church chants in a couple of works, including one of his most popular orchestral showpieces, the Russian Easter Overture. Kitezh, in this context, is one of the best instances that qualify as a subject for this inquiry.

Keywords:   positivistic, Imperial Court Chapel, Kitezh, Russian Easter Overture, Orthodox Church, non-religious source

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