[SOCIOLOGICAL NATURE OF MUSIC] Voprosy sotsiologii muzyki [i.e. Questions of the Sociology of Music]
Moscow: Gosudarstvennaya akademiya khudozhestvennykh nauk, 1927. Item #1168
135 pp. In original wrappers. Very good, some restorations of the spine, a couple of pale small stains on p.1 (not t.p.).
First edition. Extremely rare. One of 1000 copies. One of the first comprehensive Soviet books dedicated to the topic of the sociology of music.
The 20th century was characterized by the rapid development of sectoral sociologies, including the sociology of art, which, above all, covered such fields as literature, cinema, theatre, etc. The synthesis of musicology, sociology, and aesthetics led to the emergence of the sociology of music, an impetus for the analysis of which was given by the last unfinished work of Max Weber The Rational and Sociological Foundations of Music (1921).
In Russia, the study of musical and sociological problems began at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Soviet years, its research was associated with such prominent figures of Russian culture and art as Boris Asafiev, Roman Gruber, and Boleslav Yavorsky, and Anatoly Lunacharsky (1875-1933). The latter made a significant contribution to the development of the discipline through the publication of ‘Questions of the Sociology of Music’.
Printed in 1927, this book was written by the first Bolshevik Soviet People’s Commissar (Narkompros), an active playwright, critic, and essayist Anatoly Lunacharsky. One of the first comprehensive Soviet analyses of the subject, the edition consists of six sections: Music and Revolution, Taneev and Skryabin, A New Book about Music, About Sociological Method in the Theory and History of Music, Fundamentals of Art Education, and One of the Shifts in Art. In the narrative, the author emphasizes the necessity to study music from the standpoint of the Marxist method, which, from his point of view, serves as the only guarantee of the scientific nature of the research. Lunacharsky offers a thorough examination of the following theoretical works devoted to musical and sociological сonceptions: Anatoly Butskoy’s Neposredstvennyye dannyye muzyki [i.e. Direct Music Data] (1925), Max Veber’s the Rational and Sociological Foundations of Music, and articles published by Boris Asafyev’s Department of History and Theory of Music at the Leningrad State Institute of Art History. Interestingly, while the author provides constructive criticism of all publications, he, arguably, reveals most criticism towards Weber. According to Lunacharsky, the German sociologist neglects two pillars of music - physical substrate and physiological side of music - without a careful consideration of which, his further reasoning turns out groundless. The book also includes a theoretical sketch on Taneev and Scryabin in which the author presents an engaging comparison of the great Russian composers in terms of sociology of music. The edition is supplemented with a transcript of Lunacharsky’s speech on music education against the background of practical sociology and a brief article on the connection between music and revolution. Importantly, the author criticizes Meyerhold’s famous practice of biomechanics in the play Uchitel’ Bubus [i.e. Teacher Bubus] (1924/1925) and instead underlines the importance of socio-mechanics.
Overall, an interesting Soviet work on the sociological nature of music.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard University and Columbia University Libraries.