Glière e Vasil’enko, in “Slavia”, I, 1998, pp.178-205.

Reingol’d Morizevic Glière (1875-1956) and Sergej Nikiforovic Vasil’enko (1872-1956) belong to the generation of Russian composers including Skrjabin, born in 1872, and Rachmaninov, born in 1873. Anyway, if the latter composers’ work has been welcomed by the Western concert repertoires, Glière’s and Vasil’enko’s productions, though very popular in Russia, was not as successful with the Western audiences (probably with the exception of Glière’s ballet “The Red Poppy”).
It is first of all necessary to point out that Glière and Vasil’enko lived all over their long lives (they both died in 1956) almost exclusively in the Soviet Union, soon collaborating with the new régime, after the Revolution in 1917: this unconditional acceptance of the new Soviet political reality was on the whole  negative for their role of artists, by actually forcing them within inappropriate schemes. Infact, it is worthwhile remembering that at the time of the Russian Revolution, Glière and Vasil’enko had already written a considerable amount of musical works, some of which valuable indeed; besides, their active role in the new Soviet cultural politics, also confirmed by an uninterrupted staying in the Soviet Union until their deaths, far from limiting their activity, determined its development towards a direction which particularly suited them: the research on popular chant.
A turning point in this sense took place, as everybody knows, in 1932, when the Soviet central  committee intervened  with a resolution which was giving artists a policy according to which art could not limit itself to reflecting life, but would also have to be approachable to masses and should not have a pessimistic character. Glière himself wrote in the “Musical Almanac” as follows:
“Thanks to its clarity and precision, the central committee’s resolution, does not only sound as an organizational foundation, but also as a creative principle, as  it provides all Soviet artists with the courage to go on and, as far as possible, realize the plans which the Soviet art requires”.
Vasil’enko expressed himself nearly in the same way: according to him, 1932’s resolution even marked the beginning of a new era.
As opposed to revolutionary proclaimings, the musical language which the régime appreciated was rather conservative and permeated by a sometimes deteriorating Romanticism; this did not prevent considerably interesting works from being created, especially if inspired by the study and the knowledge of the musical heritage of the Asian republics, a knowledge which was spreading according to a plan of cultural revaluation of the areas of the Union which were not central.

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For Glière’s and Vasil’enko’s works, see also the Archives of Slavia Festival



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