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Grant number like: FA-56562-12

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Peter J. Schmelz
Washington University (St. Louis, MO 63130-4862)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2012 – 12/31/2012

Russian Composers Alfred Schnittke and Valentin Silvestrov and the End of Soviet Music

This musically-centered cultural history investigates the works of leading composers Alfred Schnittke (1934-98) and Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937) to shed new light on the sociocultural shifts of the USSR’s turbulent final two decades. Rather than stagnating, contemporary Soviet life became collage-like, its public bombarded by a baffling array of new influences, high and low, many of which inspired strong anxieties about the end, in both metaphorical and literal senses. Each composer reacted differently: Schnittke’s polystylism purported to embrace everything, while Silvestrov’s neo-Romanticism retreated into an idealized past. Both constantly negotiated between foreign and domestic, popular and elite, and past, present, or (imaginary) future. This project explores the new social and political realities that surrounded the production and reception of each composer’s output, thereby reframing both the late Soviet period and late twentieth-century music more broadly.