FHS List A: Nineteenth-Century Symphony. Dan Grimley firstname.lastname@example.org. Lecture 4. Defining Russia Symphonically. European preconceptions of Russian literary style c . 1900 ( Frolova -Walker): Formless and unkempt; gloomy; crudely realistic; morbid and hysterical; mystical
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In the West, theology became rational and abstract, while in the Orthodox world it retained the inner integrity of the Spirit; ... there you have a mind moving towards truth through a logical chain of ideas, here, a striving for truth through the inner elevation of consciousness through integrity of the heart and intellectual concentration; ... there you have scholastic and juridical universities, while in ancient Russia there were monasteries of prayer that enjoyed a concentration of the supreme knowledge within their walls. [F-W, p. 14]
Perhaps this collection will not be without usefulness even for philosophy itself, which seeks to draw conclusions about national character from folk song. Taking account of the minor modality of the majority of protyazhnïye [‘drawn-out’] songs, which ... comprise the characteristic Russian song, philosophy will perceive, of course, the tenderness and sensitivity of the Russian people and also the inclination of the soul to melancholy. [F-W, p. 30]
Half a century has passed since then, and many Russian symphonic works have been composed; we may even speak of a symphonic school. Well? The germ of all this lay in Kamarinskayaas the oak tree lies in the acorn. For long years to come Russian composers will drink at this source, for it will need much time and much strength to exhaust its wealth of inspiration.
Kamarinskaya, almost as if by accident, accomplished the feat of creating for itself a novel formal procedure both original and ‘organic’, and one, moreover, hardly at all indebted to ‘German’ symphonic methods.
Nowhere do the individuality and originality of Borodin reveal themselves in sharper relief than in this symphony; nowhere do his gifts appear with such versatility and diversity or his ideas so distinctively, powerfully, and profoundly. In Borodin’s Second Symphony it is a power which predominates, power which is tough,--in short, unquenchable, elemental power. The symphony is permeated by traits of Russian nationality, but the nationality of remote times; Rus’ is perceptible in this symphony, but primitive pagan Rus’.
1 Pb minor fanfare (declamatory)
78 S D major idyll
93 C (P!) D major chivalric
141 P+S (B♭, unstable)—V/b static—wild ride
224 Pb minor epic
273 S E♭--C major idyll
293 C B minor forceful
n.b. chromatic wedge pattern in opening head-motive: contains c-natural/d-sharp [e-flat]
To put it bluntly, the grand style fundamental to the genre has been split into a monumentality that remains a decorative façade unsupported by the internal form of the movement, and an internal form that is lyrical in character and can be dramatized only by applying a thick layer of pathos. [p. 264]
… for Tchaikovsky, the relation between lyricism and monumentality, so precarious to the symphonic style under ‘late romantic conditions’, became an open contradiction. To have expressive cantabile themes culminate in bombastic fortissimo was not to resolve the dilemma but to conceal an admission of failure. Brahms on the other hand, tackled the analogous problem of combining the premises of chamber music with a will to large-scale form, a problem which he solved by going to the root of the matter: the thematic material.
The introduction is the germ, the leading idea of the whole work.
This is fate, that inevitable force which checks our aspirations towards happiness ere they reach the goal ...
[First movement:]The sense of hopeless despair grows stronger and more poignant. Is it not better to turn from reality and lose ourselves in dreams?
O joy! A sweet and tender dream enfolds me. A bright and serene presence leads me on.
How fair! How remotely now is heard the first theme of the Allegro! Deeper and deeper the soul is sunk in dreams. All that is dark and joyless is forgotten. Here is happiness!
It is but a dream. Fate awakens us roughly.
… The fourth movement. If you can find no reasons for happiness in yourself, look at others. Go to the people. See how they can enjoy life and give themselves up entirely to festivity. A rustic holiday is depicted. Hardly have we had time to forget ourselves in the spectacle of other people’s pleasure, when indefatigable fate reminds us once more of its presence. ... How merry, how glad they all are! All their feelings are so inconsequent, so simple. And will you still say that all the world is immersed in sorrow? ...
1 Fanfare Mottof minor—V/f
28 P f—a—fvalsetriste
116 S a♭ minor! Entr’acte
134 C B major Idyllic—Ecstatic!
201 P a—c—f accumulative
253Fanfare-Motto unstable destabilised!
284 P d minor! tragic—foreshortened
295 S d minor Entr’acte
313 C F major Idyllic—Triumphant
355Fanfare-Mottof minor interruptive
365 [P] D♭--f minor Retrospective/tragic
1 P F (open) Celebratory
9 S! a minor Khorovod: reiterative
30 P resumed F major celebratory
38 C F (closed) festive
60 S B♭ minor Khorovod
119 P F major abbreviated
127 C F festive
149 S dminor Khorovod
199 Fanfare-Motto! F minor! Interruptive
223 C V/fexpectant
249 P F major regained!
257 C+S F major triumphant