Moscow: Gos. muz. izd-vo, 1931. Item #1571
112 pp.: ill. 17x12 cm. In original publisher’s printed wrappers. Tears of the spine, soiling and staining to the wrappers, previous owner’s ink inscription on the front wrapper, Soviet bookshop stamp on the last page. Otherwise very good.
Scarce. First edition. Edited by K. Blagoveshenskiy.
The 1920s was a pivotal point in the history of the Soviet music industry: the decision to adopt the New Economic Policy resulted in a Western culture completely taking over different fields of Soviet art. The Western music retained its appeal right through the late 1920s, when Joseph Stalin abandoned NEP, and the Soviet press witnessed the emergence of a massive wave of anti-Western campaign.
Published at the dawn of Socialist Realism, this collection of articles represents a curious example of the Soviet fight against Western music. The book contains 6 articles written by the noted Soviet musicologists Lev Lebedinsky (1904-1992), Nadezhda Bryusova (1881- 1951), Boris Steinpress (1908-1986), and Daniel Zhitomirsky (1906- 1992). The texts were intended to expose the class nature of the light genre of music, namely “tsiganshchina” (a genre of Russian everyday music, formed on the basis of the urban song and romance tradition of the late 18th - early 19th centuries. influenced by the practice of individual gypsy performers and gypsy choirs), cruel romances, foxtrot, and pseudo-revolutionary hack-work. Importantly, the book is marked with a rather harsh stance towards the NEP music, attracting attention through an overtly propagandistic style of the texts. In the article “What’s Wrong with ‘Tsiganshchina’?”, the author, B. Steinpress, recalls a time when he witnessed a Komsomol playing “tsinganochka” and states: “‘tsiganshchina’ together with vodka and religion promotes the old way of life, the old relations between people, and opposes socialist construction.” The authors condemn Western dances and music for igniting sensitivity and highlighting “unhealthy and arousing feelings.” The musicologists also criticize NEP music for its content: “They always replay different motives from the field of love relationships, some spicy stories.”Generally, all authors agree that under the influence of Western music, dances, and their Soviet reverberations, people lose control of themselves and become possessed by evil. The edition also includes the section “Letters Written at the Spot,” in which different authors offer interesting sketches and vigorously propagate eradicating NEP music from Soviet musical circles and periodicals. Importantly, Daniel Zhitomirsky, in his article dedicated to Vsevolod Meyerhold’s theatre, christens the Soviet director as an agitator of bourgeois music in his plays (D.E.; Taiti-Trot, etc.), and states: “Enough political blindness and philistine complacency towards music! Enough conciliation!” In June 1939, 8 years after this book was published, Vsevolod Meyerhold was arrested, tortured, and executed on February 2, 1940.
Overall, a curious example of Soviet propaganda.
Worldcat shows 2 copies at the Library of Congress and University of Arizona.