Articles

Olga de Kort-Koulikova Russian organ music in the 19th and 20th centuries. Part 2: The period after 1917
Het ORGEL 110 (2014), nr. 1, 30-35 [summary]



The changes of the October revolution in 1917 touched all established political, social, and cultural structures in Russia. For organ music the revolution meant a temporary end: organs were broken up, churches rebuilt as swimming pools and factories. The traditional church instrument didn’t fit within the standards of Soviet realism. In the place of ‘Russian music’ came ‘Soviet music’; Pan-Russian nationalism made way for obligatory national variety and Soviet uniformity in form and content. The public of laborers and farmers had no need of preludes and fugues. To survive, the organ had to don the closely fitting jacket of a concert instrument. A center for organ culture remained active in the conservatory of St. Petersburg, where Isaj Braudo, who established the Russian organ school, worked. Just after the Second World War in particular there was interest in Russian organ music. In 1987 organists and organ builders of the Soviet Union formed an artists’ union that - like all professional Soviet unions - kept strict tabs on the inspirational excesses of its members. There was less room for Russian music and more for Bach and Franck. The Center for Organ Culture, established in 1990, succeeded in strengthening this positive attention by organizing two international festivals for organ music. During the second festival, in 1991, the first Russian scholarly conference was held with the telling title ‘The organ yesterday and today’. The organ had returned to Russian musical life. Important composers were Michael Tariverdiev, Boris Tishchenko, and Rodion Shchedrin [pls check NL spelling!]. These composers, and also younger colleagues like Arkadij Agababov and Svetlana Lavrova, have an affinity to multi-movement thematic concerti, triptychs, and organ oratorios.