The second part of the three-part documentary series “Music, War and Revolution” is dedicated to Russian composers of the late teens and early ’20s of the last century. The former “young wild ones,” composers such as Arthur Lourié, Nikolai Roslawets, Alexander Mosolov as well as Vladimir Deshevov and Lev Termen remain to this day relatively and unjustly unknown and their lives have remained largely unexplored. However, this generation injected life into the musical world of that time, greatly leaving their mark. The young composers were adventuresome; they flirted with futurism, wrote the first twelve-tone chord of musical history, invented the first electronic musical instrument and created sounds previously unheard.
Rediscovering these composers who were banned, partly forgotten and erased from the musical landscape – as well as providing room for their absolutely enchanting music that is unjustly only rarely heard – gives this documentary its purpose. By tracing their personal and artistic vitae, the political and cultural climate and the reality of life in Russia in the early 20th century, the documentary aims to bring these composers to life once again and to reveal the links between art, society and politics. In addition, musicologists, composers, musicians and descendants illuminate the composers’ fates from their perspective and establish both cultural references as well as the historical and political context.
After the film screening, a post-screening lecture with Professor Peter J. Schmelz will take place on Censorship, Artistic Freedom and the Avant-Garde. Peter J. Schmelz is Associate Professor of Musicology at Arizona State University, Tempe. His first book, Such Freedom, If Only Musical: Unofficial Soviet Music during the Thaw (Oxford, 2009) received an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in 2010. His book Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso no. 1 was published by Oxford University Press in 2019; he has also completed the manuscript for his book Sonic Overload: Alfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov and Polystylism in the Late USSR. He is currently a Guggenheim Fellow and is working on two new books. The first is called: Cold War Intimacies: A Ukrainian Composer, Conductor, and Musicologist Struggle for Independence, Recognition, and the Avant-Garde in the 1960s. The second is about experimental music in the 1980s USSR, including the music of the Ganelin-Chekasin-Tarasov Trio, Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop-Mekhanika, Valentina Ponomaryova, and the group Auktsyon.