Abstracts of issue 9 (1997)

Haris Xanthoudakis

The Russian Musical Avant-garde 1910-1930: Utopia and History

The recent revival of interest for the Russian and Soviet composers, who participated in the radical movements between 1910-1930, acknowledges these musical equivalents of the basic representatives of the plastic, literary, theatrical, and cinematographical avant-garde, as the forerunners of the pioneers of the 12-tone, serial, and post-serial modernism.
Such a viewpoint, apart from safeguarding any interpretative attempt of 20th century music from the danger of a radical reversal that would place the center of the most avant-garde musical activity from the Western European and American big cities to the European periphery, particularly the Slavic, has a purely ideological character since it does not care to record the predominance of the Western-European school with respect to the depth and consistency of their radical modernity. It is also in conflict with the categorization of the artistic movements, followed by the History of the arts.
Unlike such a categorization, the main interpretative schema of musical historiography in our century favours continuity over rupture and regulative valuation over empirical findings. On the contrary, the alternative schema that can confront the totality of musical modernism in this century, without any dismissive evaluations, is based on the notion that all musical avant-gardisms constitute close utopian systems that are in conflict with tradition, since each one of them follows its own utopian truth. The outcome is the radical technical innovations, which meet each other in a common heritage that outlines the overall structure of the music of our century.