Moscow: Rabotnik prosveshcheniya, 1923. Item #1312
190,  pp., 4 leaves. of tables: sheet music and charts. In original wrappers with decorative frames. Spine and covers restored, some foxing, pencil underlinings occasionally, otherwise very good and clean copy.
Extremely scarce first edition. One of 2 000 copies. One of the first Soviet studies of musical aspects of speech.
The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in Russian poetry was characterized by the predominant state of the symbolist movement. Representatives of the trend, as well as their predecessors – romantics, conceived music as a particularly significant form of art. This interest towards music was dictated both by the feeling of the inner closeness of poetry and music, and by the intensity of the development of musical art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries Russia.
The intense dialogue between music and poetry, begun by the Symbolists, was taken up by the next generation, which, above all, paid specific attention to the aggravation of the sound. The performances of Igor Severyanin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vasily Kamensky, Alexey Kruchenykh, David Burliuk and other authors who belonged to various futuristic groups marked a new stage in the conquest of the stage and the music of the word. Thus, the music of the Silver Age, combining cosmism, on the one hand, and subjective emotionality, on the other, turned into a special philosophical and aesthetic category that soon became the embodiment of the Soviet idea of the synthesis of arts. As a result, from the first years of the establishment of the Communist state, studies devoted to the connection between music and poetry began to appear in Soviet print.
The aesthetic research of the famous Russian musicologist and composer Leonid Sabaneev (1881-1968) Music of Speech serves as one of the earliest Soviet works on the topic. The narrative, which is limited to the music of Russian speech, represents an outcome of more than a 10 year-long study conducted by the author. In the book, Sabaneev defines the essence of the music of speech as the sound being of speech without relation to its symbolism of images and ideas. Interestingly, the author also offers a brief analysis of Russian poetry, outlining the relatively primitive stage of the development of the art of word. According to Sabaneev, in a passionate pursuit of innovative trends in art, Russian poets often throw themselves into the field of beyond-aesthetic elements. The text, which fleetly mentions the zaum language and highlights its coverage of emotionality and aesthetic beauty, mainly focuses on the Symbolist poets, setting off Konstantin Balmont’s (1867-1942) poetry for its special musical sensitivity to sound and intuitiveness to the magic of verse. The book consists of 9 chapters and concentrates on a variety of topics from the importance of rhythm and breathing in speech to euphony and intonation profile. The author’s aesthetic research is accompanied with a number of illustrative examples from the works of Nikolay Gogol, Konstantin Balmont, Alexander Pushkin, Valery Bryusov, etc. The edition also includes six tables showing samples of speech recording in a three-line system, Pushkin’s lyrical style, etc. The book came out with the circulation of 2,000 copies and was published three years before Sabaneev’s emigration to France.
Leonid Sabaneev was a noted Soviet musicologist, music critic, composer and scientist, one of the first biographers of Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915). Sabaneev studied mathematics, physics and natural sciences at the Moscow University and received musical education at the Moscow Conservatory under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergei Taneyev, Nikolai Zverev and Paul de Schlözer. In the 1920s, Leonid emerged as one of the leading Soviet music theorists publishing numerous studies: ‘‘Jewish National School in Music’’ (1924), ‘‘General History of Music’’ (1925), ‘‘History of Russian Music’’ (1924), etc. Sabaneyev left Russia in 1926 and relocated to Paris where he was actively engaged in diverse music-related activities. Some of his most famous musical pieces include: Piano Sonata, Op. 15, the oratorio The Revelation of St John (1940), a Funeral March in Memory of Beethoven, etc.
Worldcat shows copies located at Princeton, Stanford, California, North Carolina, Maryland Universities.