Event Title

Teaching People to Listen: Nadezhda Briusova and Mass Music Education in Late-Imperial and early Soviet Russia

Presenter Information

Annika Krafcik, Oberlin College

Location

Virtual presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2020 8:00 AM

End Date

5-2-2020 5:00 PM

Abstract

What does music do? I believe every musician should have an answer to that question, but at the end of last year, I didn’t. Battered and bruised from years of criticism and feelings of inadequacy, I couldn’t figure out what made music worth it. I set out looking for answers, and oddly enough, I started finding them in the work of Nadezhda Briusova (1881-1951), a music educator from Revolutionary Russia. Briusova was a prolific teacher, government worker, conservatory administrator, and journalist, who was instrumental in shaping mass music education in Moscow before and after the October Revolution. She believed that music was made up of two fundamental elements of being - movement and feeling - and argued that because its language was so elemental to the human experience, music was for everyone. She dedicated her life to teaching her students how to listen to and talk about music. Her beliefs were so simple and so clear that they rang true not just in late-Imperial and early Soviet Russia, but in my Oberlin practice room too. In my thesis, I analyze how Briusova’s mass music education programs created continuity across the revolutionary divide. I identify who and what she taught in order to demonstrate the ways in which, even as she adapted to the demands of the new Soviet state, Briusova perpetuated late-Imperial attitudes toward the people, narod, and Russian musical heritage.

Keywords:

Continuity, Climate change, Revolution, Nationalism, Music education, Soviet Russia

Major

History; Russian and Eastern European Studies; Cello Performance

Project Mentor(s)

Annemarie Sammartino, History
Zeinab Abul-Magd, History
Leonard Smith, History

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Apr 27th, 8:00 AM May 2nd, 5:00 PM

Teaching People to Listen: Nadezhda Briusova and Mass Music Education in Late-Imperial and early Soviet Russia

Virtual presentation

What does music do? I believe every musician should have an answer to that question, but at the end of last year, I didn’t. Battered and bruised from years of criticism and feelings of inadequacy, I couldn’t figure out what made music worth it. I set out looking for answers, and oddly enough, I started finding them in the work of Nadezhda Briusova (1881-1951), a music educator from Revolutionary Russia. Briusova was a prolific teacher, government worker, conservatory administrator, and journalist, who was instrumental in shaping mass music education in Moscow before and after the October Revolution. She believed that music was made up of two fundamental elements of being - movement and feeling - and argued that because its language was so elemental to the human experience, music was for everyone. She dedicated her life to teaching her students how to listen to and talk about music. Her beliefs were so simple and so clear that they rang true not just in late-Imperial and early Soviet Russia, but in my Oberlin practice room too. In my thesis, I analyze how Briusova’s mass music education programs created continuity across the revolutionary divide. I identify who and what she taught in order to demonstrate the ways in which, even as she adapted to the demands of the new Soviet state, Briusova perpetuated late-Imperial attitudes toward the people, narod, and Russian musical heritage.