The Evolution of the Russian Romance Through the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries

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This performance dissertation traced the evolution of the Russian romance from 1800 to the present. The Russian romance is a relatively unknown and greatly neglected genre of classical art songs. It is commonly believed that the Russian romance began with Dargomizhsky and Glinka proceeding directly to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Forgotten are the composers before Dargornizhsky and Glinka, the bridge composers, and the post-Tchaikovsky and post-Rachmaninoff composers. This may be, in part, because of the difficulties in obtaining Russian vocal scores. While most of the musical world is acquainted with the magnificent Russian instrumental music, the "true soul" of the Russian people lies in its romances. I presented examples of the two different schools of composition, reflecting their philosophical differences in thinking that came about in the 1860s: (1) Russian National school, (2) Western European school. Each school's influence on generations of Russian composers and their pupils have been represented in the recital programs. Also represented was the effect of the October Revolution on music and the voice of the Russian people, Anna Akhmatova. The amount of music that could be included in this dissertation greatly exceeds the amount of available performance time and represents a selected portion of the repertoire. The first recital included repertoire from the beginning of the romance in the early nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century and the second recital focused on the music of the twentieth century, pre and post, the October Revolution. Finally, given the status of Anna Akhmatova and her contributions, the third recital was devoted entirely to her poetry. The "Russian soul" is one of deep, heartfelt emotions and sorrow. Happiness and joy are also present, but always with a touch of melancholy. The audience did not simply go through a musical journey, but took a journey through the "Russian soul". With the strong response of the audience to these recitals, my belief that this repertoire deserves a prominent place in recital programming was confirmed.



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