Nikolay Myaskovsky: A Composer and his Times [Hardback]

Patrick Zuk(Author)

ISBN: 9781783275755 | Published by: Boydell Press | Year of Publication: 2021 | 528p, H9.25 x W6.25, 32 black and white, 65 line drawing
Status: Not Yet Published - Available for pre-order

Nikolay Myaskovsky


Drawing on a wealth of previously unexplored archival documentation, this biography offers the first comprehensive critical reappraisal of the career and achievement of Nikolay Myaskovsky (1881-1950). The story of Myaskovsky's unlikely rise to prominence as a central figure in Soviet musical life is an absorbing one. He had just started to make a reputation as a young composer of promise when he was called up for active service on Russia's western front in August 1914. After returning to civilian life in 1921, he played a major role in revitalising the Moscow musical scene after the depredations of the Civil War years. Patrick Zuk's account presents a panoramic portrayal of the composer and his milieu against the backdrop of his turbulent times. It explores his relationships with Serge Prokofiev, Dmitry Shostakovich, and other notable figures; his role as mentor to a generation of younger composers such as Dmitry Kabalevsky and Aram Khachaturian; his involvement with a range of Soviet musical institutions and organisations; and the challenges presented by his professional environment. The portrait is far removed from Cold War clichés of the regimented Soviet artist or sentimental stereotypes of persecuted genius. Rather, Myaskovsky emerges as a man of considerable courage who maintained a remarkable personal and professional integrity in the face of external pressures, and whose responses to the Bolshevik regime were conflicted and ambivalent. The composer's fate vividly illustrates the difficult choices facing artists of his generation as they sought to work out a modus vivendi with Soviet power. The book also brings into focus the distinctive nature of Myaskovsky's creative achievement-his sustained engagement with the symphony, and his distinguished contributions to the genres of the piano sonata, the string quartet, and vocal music. It challenges long-standing critical narratives that characterise music of the Stalinist period as generally exemplifying Socialist Realism at its most conformist, and argues the need for a more nuanced view of Soviet musical life and musical creativity.

PATRICK ZUK is Associate Professor of Music at Durham University.

Table of Contents

Beginnings: 1881-1902
Apprenticeship: 1903-1911
Emergence: 1911-1914
War and Revolution: 1914-1917
Aftermath: 1918-1921
Expanding Horizons: 1921-1923
Cross-Currents: 1924-1926
'Sheer Overcoming': 1927-1931
Time of Troubles: 1932-1941
Endurance: 1941-1945
Final Years: 1946-1950
Appendix I: A Note on Recordings
Appendix II: List of Published Works

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