Surveilling the Imagination: The Plight of the Artist in Stalinist Russia

APR 02, 2020 | 5:30 PM TO 7:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


9100: Skylight Room


April 02, 2020: 5:30 PM-7:30 PM




Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation


The seminar will examine the troubled relationship between artistic creation and totalitarianism through the perspective of the lives and careers of two emblematic artists working in Stalinist Russia: the poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) and the composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). Akhmatova’s status as an icon of Russia culture will be discussed through an analysis of her lyrical poetry and her elegiac cycle Requiem. Shostakovich’s career as a composer who worked under the auspices of the regime will be examined in parallel with the different paths taken by Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, addressing the relationship between art and politics and the power of art to convey or resist political ideology. Presented by Prof. Simon Morrison, Professor of Music and Director of Graduate Studies in Musicology at Princeton University and James Melo, musicologist for the Ensemble for the Romantic Century and Senior Editor at RILM Abstracts of Music Literature.