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Artistic Culture of the 19th Century, Part 7
September 22, 2014 14:14


Back to Artistic Culture of the 19th Century, Part 6

The 19th century was the era of creating the Russian national music. Its forefather was Mikhail Glinka (1804 - 1857). Aspiring to create the national Russian opera, the composer addressed the Russian history of the 17th century, in particular, to the feat of the peasant Ivan Susanin. His opera Life for the Tsar echoed with the folk tunes in its music intonations. Mikhail Glinka’s second opera based on Alexander Pushkin’s same name poem Ruslan and Lyudmila was a magic flower that blossomed on the Russian soil, as his contemporaries called it. Mikhail Glinka is the author of penetrating romance songs as well as choral and orchestral compositions. 


At the initiative of Maxim Gorky the Znaniye publishing house was organized and brought together realist writers, such as N. Teleshov, A. Serafimovich, I. Shmelyov, E. Chirikov and others. Writings by Leonid Andreyev (1871-1919) were contradictory: The Darkness, Anathema, Tsar Hunger, and others.

In the late 19th century realism was accompanied with the style of Decadence (derived from the late Latin word “decadentia” meaning “decay”) based on the concept of incognizability of the world and its development. Inner spiritual experience was considered the one and only criterion of consciousness. The Decadence found reflection in creativity by senior symbolists, such as Nikolay Minsky, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius, Fyodor Sologub, and others. Dmitry Merezhkovsky's (1866-1941) book Upon the Reasons of Decay and New Trends of Modern Russian Literature (1893) came to be the manifesto of the budding Modernism. The new trend displayed interest in literature and aesthetics of the West European decadence. Valery Bryusov (1873-1924) wrote: “Acquaintance with poetry by Verlaine and Mallarmé in the early 1890s and with that by Baudelaire a bit later ushered a new way to me”. The poet Konstantin Balmont (1867-1942) expressed the essence of Decadence in the following way: “... songs of decadents are the songs of twilight and night. They discredit everything that is old... But, while preceding the new, they are brought up by the old and thus cannot see the new for themselves...” 
 
Alexander Blok (1880-1921) was fond of symbolism in his early works (the collection Poems on the Fairy Lady). Alexander Blok, Valery Bryusov, Andrey Bely, Konstantin Balmont and Fyodor Sologub made a lot for development of verse forms, the musicality of language means, and enrichment of the Russian poetry. Writings by Alexander Blok made a whole epoch in the Russian literature (the cycles Punishment, In the Kulikovo Battle Field, Homeland, and others).

 

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A new direction of the Russian modernism - Acmeism (derived from the Greek “acme” meaning the highest level of something, the blossoming power) was represented by the greatest poets of the 20th century: Nikolay Gumilyov (1886-1921), Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), and Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938). Each of them created their own unique realm of thoughts, images, and feelings. Anna Akhmatova's later works, such as Requiem, and The Poem without the Hero expressed the tragedy of the “personality cult” and thus became the still small voice of conscience for the generation. 

Futurism found expression in poetry by David Burliuk (1882-1967), Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922), and Alexey Kruchenykh (1886-1968). Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) was the brightest poet of futurism, who expanded boundaries of his poetry that expressed the anguish of the man besieged by the city (A Cloud in Trousers, and others). 

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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Culture Russian History Russian Literature Russian Music Russian Poetry 

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