Music in Russia and USA

During the first three years of his recording career, Louis Armstrong played blues and stomps. In fact, that was what

Music in Russia and USA



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c in the large traditional forms.

Americans are ex Europeans, to be sure, and as such have responsibilities to the preservation and continuance of European culture, but American are also a race and a vigorous one and it is increasingly evident that we are capable of developing cultural traditions of our own.

As for Russian music it is impossible to describe its contribution to the world musical culture, and will be difficult to estimate it. Of course, the great musical occurrence is the Russian classical music, and I would like to tell about my favorites Russian composers.

Sergei Procofyev was five when his mother gave him his first piano lesson. At the age of six he was already composing and actually writing small pieces for the piano and a few years later he write an opera to his own libretto called The Giant. Procofyev graduated from the Conservatoire in the spring of 1914. Taking his final exams as a pianist, he won the highest distinction: the Anton Rubinstein gold medal and prize.

Procofyev worked for nearly fifty years in all spheres and genres of music. His powerful and original talent has won universal recognition. His best works and these are not few have enriched the legacy of world musical culture.

Procofyev belonged to the older generation of Soviet composers who entered upon the scene before the October Revolution. He was a pupil of Rimsky Korsakov and Lyadov who educated the young composers of their time in the spirit of the finest Russian classical traditions, which they strove to protect from modernistic influences.

Procofyev was a man of independent thinking who traveled his own way. He was one of the greatest masters of the new, Soviet period in the history of the Russian music. Never satisfied with his achievements, Procofyev was forever probing, forever working on new ideas. The development of music in the first half of this century is unthinkable without him.

Operas and ballets held an important place among the works he created. The opera Love for Three Oranges was written in1919 and has become very popular. Procofyev wrote another opera in the twenties The Flaming Angel, but did not live to see it on the stage. No more than two fragments of it were performed in his lifetime.

Ballet music appealed to Procofyev even more than the opera. Besides his Buffoon he wrote three other ballet scores while abroad The Age of Steel, The Prodigal Son, and On the Dnieper. The Fourth Symphony, the last to be written abroad, was the most interesting.

Procofyevs best works, written after his return to the Soviet Union are: the ballet Romeo and Juliet (1935 - 1936), the symphonic fairy tale Peter and the Wolf (1936), the heroic cantata Alexander Nevsky (1938 1939), the opera War and Peace (1941), the Fifth Symphony (1944), the ballet Cinderella (1944).

The last five years of his life brought such important works as the Seventh Symphony, the oratorio On guard of peace, the symphonic suite Winter Fire and the ballet The Stone Flower. Unforgettable are Procofyevs sonatas and concertos for violin and many other compositions revealing the finest qualities of his tremendous talent.

Other greatest Russian composer is Igor Stravinsky.

Stravinsky was a pupil of Rimsky Korsakov, but his reputation was made by the music he wrote for the Diaghilev Ballet in Paris (The Firebird, Petrouchka, The Rite of Spring). This period is marked by interest in Russia folk song and brilliant orchestral coloring. The most varied rhythms are used for percussive effects to accentuate the brutally harsh sonorities, and a highly dissonant harmony results from the use of polytonality.

About 1920, Stravinsky struck out in directions that were new, partly in technique and partly in the kinds of subjects and mediums employed. His technique showed a new restrained, a less dissonant and more tonal style, and greater clarity of form; in short, a tendency toward the neoclassic style. His material was typically drawn from the classics of the eighteenth century. The great variety of the musical types after 1920 is astonishing: oratorios, chamber music, concertos, ballets, symphonies, pieces for a piano, and so on. Every work of Stravinskys has a special individuality, and in each he achieves a uniqueness of style and solves a problem to which he seldom returns. Directly after first World War, Stravinsky wrote a number of works marked by economy of means and expression, using a few solo players (The Soldiers Tale; The Wind Octet). Later, in his “third” period, he returned to the larger forms of the symphony (Symphony in Three Movements, 1945). Stravinskys early interest in American jazz rhythms dates from Ragtime (1918). A more ambitious work , Ebony Concerto (1945), for jazz band, appeared after he had settled permanently in the United States.

On the whole, Stravinskys style is essentially anti-romantic. The elasticity and primitive vigor of his rhythms was calculated to represent his non-romantic subject matter, and his melodies, especially in later works, are deliberately matter of fact, dry, and occasionally commonplace, as a reaction to the expressive melodies of Romanticism.

Stravinsky uses the tonal material of the diatonic (seven tone) scale, sometimes combined with the old modes. His early polytonality is replaced later by clearer tonality, but his dissonant harmony is often the result of the combination of polyphonic voices. A special feature of his style is parallel dissonant chords or intervals.

Stravinsky was always a virtuoso orchestrator. A fondness for the dry brilliant sonorities of the woodwinds and particularly the percussion instruments tended to relegate the strings to the background. To individualize the voice parts of chords, Stravinsky often used instruments of different timbre.

As a young man, Stravinsky burst on the musical scene with ballet The Rite of Spring. It excited everybody, exhilarated a number, and outraged more. Stravinskys later styles were also viewed with alarm often by those who had just accustomed themselves to his earlier style. They were dry, the wells of inspiration had run out, some said. The truth was, of course, that Stravinsky was simply being himself, and like every great artist, his style changed, as he did, from work to work. No one, however, has ever denied Stravinskys consummate draftsmanship, his deep respect for the past, or his extraordinary impact on the music of the present day.

As for Russian pop music I could say almost nothing. I dont know a contemporary pop singer or compositor who, by my opinion, bring in world musical culture anything really great. But I think that our time arranges to make anything memorable in the musical area and may be soon we could see a birth a new Russian musical talent.

In conclusion I should say that music is the greatest occurrence in our life. From this work we can see that music dont has limits and however it try to unite the people in the world. Someone famous said that mathematics is the universal language. Im ready to argue music is the universal language, because this language understands everyone. If you want understand foreigner listen his native music and you will see his true soul.

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