1st Edition

Singing Soviet Stagnation: Vocal Cycles from the USSR, 1964–1985

By Richard Louis Gillies Copyright 2022
    238 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Singing Soviet Stagnation: Vocal Cycles from the USSR, 1964–1985 explores the ways in which the aftershock of an apparent crisis in Soviet identity after the death of Stalin in 1953 can be detected in selected musical- literary works of what has become known as the ‘Stagnation’ era (1964–1985). Richard Louis Gillies traces the cultural impact of this shift through the intersection between music, poetry, and identity, presenting close readings of three substantial musical-literary works by three of the period’s most prominent composers of songs and vocal cycles:

    Seven Poems of Aleksandr Blok, Op. 127 (1966– 1967) by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
    Russia Cast Adrift (1977) by Georgy Sviridov (1915–1998)
    Stupeni (1981–1982; 1997) by Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937).

    The study elaborates an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of musicalliterary artworks that does not rely on existing models of musical analysis or on established modes of literary criticism, thereby avoiding privileging one discipline over the other. It will be of particular signifi cance for scholars, students, and performers with an interest in Russian and Soviet music, the intersection between music and poetry, and the history of Russian and East European culture, politics, and identity during the twentieth century.

    Chapter 1


    1.1 Overview and Literature Review

    1.2 Singing Stagnation: Historical Context

    1.3 Howling Wolves: Theory and Methodology

    1.4 Summary of Chapters

    Chapter 2

    Stepping Over the Threshold: Shostakovich’s Blok Cycle

    2.1 Introduction to an Ending

    2.2 Intersections of Svoy, Vnye, and Artistic Utterance

    2.3 The Blok Cycle

    2.4 Transcendence and Conclusions

    Chapter 3

    Georgy Sviridov and the Soviet Betrayal of Rus′

    3.1 Rendering Lyric Poetry, Song, and Nationalism ‘Appropriately Soviet’

      1. State ‘Inclusion’ of Nationalist Ideology, 1953–1982

    3.3 Russia Cast Adrift

    3.4 Conclusion: Sviridov’s ‘Great Retreat’ from the Present?

    Chapter 4

    Eschatological Tenderness: Valentin Silvestrov’s Stupeni

    4.1 Introduction: Birth of the Subject

    4.2 Faith in the Time of Cruel Miracles: Social-Cultural Context

    4.3 Stupeni: The Beginning of Absolute Dying

    4.4 Conclusion: Loss of Form by the Subject

    Chapter 5


    5.1 Echoes and Repercussions

    5.2 Future Research


    Richard Louis Gillies is a lecturer and scholar specialising in the music, poetry, and cultural practices of Russia and the Soviet Union during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.