Classical Music Forum banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
4,023 Posts
To the Soviet authorities, I think formalism just meant not proper socialist realism. More generally, I think of it as something along the line of music for music's sake. "Music can only be only about itself," as Stravinsky said. The Soviets hated that. Music was meant to serve the state.

Going backwards in time, you get the Brahms vs. Wagner debate, where Brahms (or really, Hanslick) would have been on the formalist side.

“Music has no subject beyond the combinations of notes we hear, for music speaks not only by means of sounds, it speaks nothing but sound.” — Eduard Hanslick
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,023 Posts
But what did they mean by music serving the state? Did they require the composer to include something that had to refer to the country's folk tunes because then it would be too abstract?
Folk tunes were nice because they could be seen as honoring the national heritage. And they were usually "accessible." Experimental was bad. You were supposed to serve the people. Art wasn't for struggling with your internal demons or working out new ideas about harmony and rhythm.

But the Soviets shouldn't define the word Formalism (and the Soviet authorities weren't much different from other totalitarians). They sort of co-opted it, and gave it a political edge. You can reject formalism without being a tool of the state.
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top