Beethoven in Russia
Music and Politics
Published by: Indiana University Press
346 pages, 155.00 x 235.00 mm, 42 b&w illus., 5 b&w tables
- ISBN: 9780253063052
- Published: November 2022
How did Ludwig van Beethoven help overthrow a tsarist regime? With the establishment of the Russian Musical Society and its affiliated branches throughout the empire, Beethoven's music reached substantially larger audiences at a time of increasing political instability. In addition, leading music critics of the regime began hearing Beethoven's dramatic works as nothing less than a call to revolution.
Beethoven in Russia deftly explores the interface between music and politics in Russia by examining the reception of Beethoven's works from the late 18th century to the present. In part 1, Frederick W. Skinner's clear and sweeping review examines the role of Beethoven's more dramatic works in the revolutionary struggle that culminated in the Revolution of 1917. In part 2, Skinner reveals how this same power was again harnessed to promote Stalin's campaign of rapid industrialization. The appropriation of Beethoven and his music to serve the interests of the state remained the hallmark of Soviet Beethoven reception until the end of communist rule.
With interdisciplinary appeal in the areas of history, music, literature, and political thought, Beethoven in Russia shows how Beethoven's music served as a call to action for citizens and weaponized state propaganda in the great political struggles that shaped modern Russian history.
Prelude: Music in the Tsar's Gulag
Part I: RUSSIA BEFORE 1917
1. Encountering Beethoven: Salon and Concert Hall
2. Engaging Beethoven: Writer and Critic
3. Evaluating Beethoven: From Freude to Freiheit
4. Embracing Beethoven: Concert Hall and Riverbank
Part II: RUSSIA AFTER 1917
5. Beethoven as Revolutionary: Red Star Rising
6. Beethoven as Icon: Cult and Canon
7. Beethoven as Beethoven: The End of Ideology
Postlude: Project Gulag 2010
Skinner's survey of Beethoven reception in Russia from the 1790s through 2010 is constructed from an astonishing compendium of details compiled over decades of research and reflection. The adoption of the heroic Beethoven for revolutionary and communist purposes—an adoption the West believes to be a perversion—makes sense not as abuse but as a logical outgrowth of the Romantic idealization of the composer. Ultimately, Skinner provokes us into re-examining our own 'Beethovens.'~William Meredith, emeritus director of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, San José State University