Remembering Soviet pop

[From Global Voices website]

Vesyolye Rebiata” (The Jolly Fellows), “Krasnye Maki” (The Red Poppies), and “Siniaia Ptitsa” (Blue Bird)—these are just a few of the bands that dominated Soviet mainstream music from the 1960s to the 1980s. While the West twisted, discoed, and boogied, the people of the Soviet Union were treated to a bland but charming, state-censored version of Western music: the so-called vocal-instrumental ensembles (VIAs).

During the post-war era, Western pop poured across Soviet borders via European radio airwaves and record smuggling. Despite expensive jamming efforts, the government was unable to prevent unsanctioned, bourgeois music from garnering a widespread audience inside the USSR. The Soviet leadership was alarmed by the music’s popularity not only because of its promotion of “decadent” Western values, but also because its popularity seemed to undermine Soviet culture’s supposed superiority.

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War music: the humanity, heroism and propaganda behind Shostakovich’s Symphony No 7

[From The Guardian]

4899When Shostakovich played the first two movements of his Seventh Symphony to his friends in the besieged city of Leningrad in the summer of 1941, his performance was interrupted by a German bombardment. As the air-raid sirens began to blare after he had finished playing the gigantic first movement – music that dramatises, parodies and immortalises the German invasion – he assured his audience that he would return to play the second just as soon as the warning had stopped and he had taken his wife and children to the shelter. As one of his listeners that day, the critic and composer Valerian Bogdanov-Berezovsky, later wrote, the Seventh Symphony “is an extraordinary example of a synchronised, instant creative reaction to events as they are being lived through, transmitted in a complex, large-scale form, yet without the slightest hint of compromising the standard of the genre”.

The Seventh’s story is one of the most astonishing in the history of music. The first full performance in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) was given in August 1942 by a half-starved orchestra, whose emaciated state is symbolised by the drummer Dzaudhat Aydarov, who had literally been rescued from the dead. Aydarov was thought already to be a corpse, but the desperate conductor, Karl Eliasberg, went to the morgue to make sure – and discovered this supposed cadaver moving and breathing. Aydarov took arguably the most demanding role in the symphony, playing the side drum that beats the relentless rhythm of war at the heart of the first movement.

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Listening in preparation for week 2 (semester 2)

Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 7 in C major Leningrad Op. 60 (1941)

  • click here to listen to this via Spotify (Movement IV)
  • click here to listen to this via Youtube (Movement I with score)
  • no score out of copyright

Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 8 in C minor Op. 65 (1944)

  • click here to listen to this via Spotify (Movement I)
  • click here to listen to this via Youtube (whole symphony)
  • no score out of copyright

Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major “Stalingrad” Op. 82 (1939-42)

  • click here to listen to this via Spotify (Movement I)
  • click here to access the score

Sergei Prokofiev, War and Peace (after Tolstoy), opera in 13 scenes Op. 91 (1941-43)

  • click here to listen to this via Spotify (whole opera)
  • click here to listen to this via Youtube (finale)
  • click here to access the score

Sergei Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major Op. 100 (1945)

  • click here to listen to this via Spotify (whole symphony)
  • click here to listen to this via Youtube
  • click here to access the score

Listening in preparation for week 11

Thew following tracks are worth familiarising yourself with after the final lecture of this term:

Prokofiev, Lieutenant Kijé Symphonic Suite: The Birth of Kijé

  • click here to access this via Spotify
  • click here to access this via Youtube

Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet Ballet Op. 64 The fight (form Act I)

  • click here to access this via Spotify
  • click here to access this via Youtube

Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2 Op. 62

  • first movement: click here to access via Spotify
  • second movement: click here to access via Spotify
  • third movement: click here to access via Spotify
  • Click here for score

 

Listening in preparation for week 8

Since the lecture for this week will be on Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, there is no preparatory listening required.

If you would like to listen in advance of the screening or the lecture, please follow links below, as appropriate:

  • Click here to listen to the opera via Spotify

to listen to extracts of this via Youtube”:

  • click here (snippets)
  • or here (full opera)

Listening in preparation for week 7

Ivan Dzerzhinsky, ‘От края и до края’ [From region  to region], a Chorus from the Opera Тихий Дон [Quiet flows the Don] (1935), sung by the Bol’shoy Theatre Chorus

  • click here to access this via Youtube

Sergey Prokofiev, October (Cantata) Op. 74 (1936-7)

  • click here to access this via Youtube
  • click here to access this via Spotify

Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony Number 5 Op. 47 (1937)

  • click here to access this via Spotify
  • click here to access this via Youtube (with score)

Nikolai Myaskovsky, Symphony No 12 (Collective Farm Symphony) OP. 35 (1932)

  • click here for first movement via Spotify
  • click here for second movement via Spotify
  • click here for third (final) movement via Spotify

Listening in preparation for week 5

Vadim Kozin, ‘Druzhba’ (1938)

  • click here to access this via Spotify
  • Click here to access this via Youtube

Leonid Utesov, ‘Suliko’ (1933)

  • click here to access this via Spotify
  • no Youtube link, but see here for other recordings by same singer

Alla Bayanova, ‘Ochen’ khorosho’ (1930s?)

  • click here to listen to this via Spotify
  • no Youtube link, but click here to listen to other recordings by same singer
  • See also here

See also here