Blessed with a beautiful voice, Praskovia began her training in Nicholas’s operatic company as a young girl. Like all the members of Nicholas’s troupe, Praskovia was one of his own serfs. But unlike the others, she utterly captured her master’s heart. The book reconstructs Praskovia’s stage career as "The Pearl” and the heartbreaking details of her romance with Nicholas--years of torment before their secret marriage, the outrage of the aristocracy when news of the marriage emerged, Praskovia’s death only days after delivering a son, and the unyielding despair that followed Nicholas to the end of his life. Written with grace and style, The Pearl sheds light on the world of the Russian aristocracy, music history, and Russian attitudes toward serfdom. But above all, the book tells a haunting story of love against all odds.
The Historical Dictionary of Russian Music covers the history of Russian music starting from the earliest archaeological discoveries to the present, including folk music, sacred music, and secular art music. The book contains a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 500 cross-referenced dictionary entries on every major composer in Russia’s history, as well as several leading composers of today, such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Rodion Shchedrin, Leonid Desyatnikov, Elena Firsova, and Pavel Karmanov. It also includes the patrons and institutions that commissioned works by those composers and the choreographers and dancers who helped shape the great ballet masterpieces. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Russian music.
Issues surrounding the transformation of the music industry in Russia, the role of women as patrons and performers, the exportation of instruments to the Russian Far East, and the complex system of tariffs and trade protection that benefited domestic piano manufacturers provide this book’s thematic links. Conclusions indicate that while favorable tariff laws and state-imposed economic policies benefited the family-owned firms in the nineteenth century, they remained in effect in the decades after the nationalization of the piano industry in 1917.
Despite problems providing youth with consumer goods, leaders of Soviet bloc states fostered a socialist alternative to the modernity the capitalist West promised. Underground rock musicians thus shared assumptions about culture that Communist leaders had instilled. Still, competing with influences from the capitalist West had its limits. State-sponsored rock festivals and rock bands encouraged a spirit of rebellion among young people. Official perceptions of what constituted culture limited options for accommodating rock and pop music and Western youth cultures. Youth countercultures that originated in the capitalist West, like hippies and punks, challenged the legitimacy of Communist youth organizations and their sponsors. Government media and police organs wound up creating oppositional identities among youth gangs. Failing to provide enough Western cultural goods to provincial cities helped fuel resentment over the Soviet Union’s capital, Moscow, and encourage support for breakaway nationalist movements that led to the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. Despite the Cold War, in both the Soviet bloc and in the capitalist West, political elites responded to perceived threats posed by youth cultures and music in similar manners. Young people participated in a global youth culture while expressing their own local views of the world.
Tomoff argues that the spectacular Soviet successes in the system of international music competitions, taken together with the rapturous receptions accorded touring musicians, helped to persuade the Soviet leadership of the superiority of their system. This, combined with the historical triumphalism central to the Marxist-Leninist worldview, led to confidence that the USSR would be the inevitable winner in the global competition with the United States. Successes masked the fact that the very conditions that made them possible depended on a quiet process by which the USSR began to participate in an international legal and economic system dominated by the United States. Once the Soviet leadership transposed its talk of system superiority to the economic sphere, focusing in particular on consumer goods and popular culture, it had entered a competition that it could not win.