Historical Dictionary of Russian Music (Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts)

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9780810853119: Historical Dictionary of Russian Music (Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts)
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Russian music today has a firm hold around the world in the repertoire of opera houses, ballet companies, and orchestras. The music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergey Rachmaninov, Sergey Prokofiev, and Dmitri Shostakovich is very much today’s lingua franca both in the concert hall and on the soundtracks of international blockbusters from Hollywood. Meanwhile the innovations of Modest Mussorgsky, Alexander Borodin, and Igor Stravinsky have played their crucial role in the development of Western music in the last century, influencing the work of virtually every notable composer of the last century.

The Historical Dictionary of Russian Music covers the history of Russian music starting from the earliest archaeological discoveries to the present, including folk music, sacred music, and secular art music. The book contains a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 500 cross-referenced dictionary entries on every major composer in Russia’s history, as well as several leading composers of today, such as Sofia Gubaidulina, Rodion Shchedrin, Leonid Desyatnikov, Elena Firsova, and Pavel Karmanov. It also includes the patrons and institutions that commissioned works by those composers and the choreographers and dancers who helped shape the great ballet masterpieces. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Russian music.

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About the Author:

Daniel Jaffe has presented papers and talked on Russian music at international symposiums and pre-concert presentations, done booklet notes for various record companies, and broadcast on BBC. He has written extensively on music for various publications, including feature articles and reviews for International Piano, Gramophone, and BBC Music Magazine, of which he was the reviews editor. His specialization is Sergey Prokofiev, on whom he has written a biography.

Review:

Jaffé (Sergey Prokofiev) opens this comprehensive subject guide with a chronology listing salient musical and political events from 5500 B.C.E., when instruments were discovered in Karelia, to 2011, with the centenary concert of Pyatnitsky’s Choir. Following this is an engaging 31-page historical overview, easily navigated by helpful period-specific subheadings. More than 500 concise entries then profile historical and contemporary composers, movements, performance venues, operas, instruments, and other terms relevant to or significantly shaping Russian musical history. A fabulous 68-page, thematically organized bibliography rounds out this fundamental reference.
VERDICT A wonderful complement to the 36 essays comprising Richard Taruskin’s On Russian Music (Univ. of California Pr., 2010). (Library Journal)

[A] superbly produced dictionary, which also has an excellent chronology...Nobody with special interest in this subject should hesitate. (Classical Music)

As an up-to-date, English-language encapsulation of its subject, this well-constructed dictionary fills an important niche. Its coverage is strongly oriented toward the biographical, with the main focus on classical composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The 500 articles are rich with cross-references, and Jaffé, the former reviews editor of BBC Music Magazine, provides capable guidance through the thickets of competing systems of Cyrillic-to-English transliteration. A fine bibliography offers added value. Although obviously selective by design, the topical choices are occasionally difficult to fathom; e.g., Robert Schumann is included as a formative influence on Russian composers, but Franz Schubert is not. With the understanding that the scope of Jaffé's Russian Music is limited almost exclusively to Russian classical music, libraries and readers across the spectrum will welcome this book. Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE)

Daniel Jaffé’s , Historical Dictionary of Russian Music will serve most students and lovers of Russian music very well. It strikes a good balance between individuals and institutions, with a sprinkling of events, concepts, musical genres and works.

(BBC Music Magazine)

The Historical Dictionary of Russian Music includes coverage from the church and folk music of the Kievan Rus, in the tenth century, to the present. The author provides entries are for composers, conductors, and soloists, including Russians, those who emigrated (e.g., Ashkenazy, Koussevitzky), and non-Russians (e.g., Hector Berlioz, John Field) who influenced music in this country, or performed in its halls. Jaffe also identifies opera and concert halls, conservatories, musical instruments, ensembles, publishing companies and organizations, general subjects that influenced music (e.g., cultural revolution, education), styles (Socialist realism), forms and genres (ballet, church music), and important works (Ba-La-F Quartet; Petrushka)....It is recommended for academic libraries. (American Reference Books Annual)

This is another volume in an excellent series covering a range of literary and arts subjects. The focus here is on Russian music offering the reader digestible chunks of information on all aspects of this wide subject...The bibliography is clear and thorough, usefully divided into subjects that are listed at the beginning, so that one can research within topics as varied as individual composers, other artists, historical periods and movements, dramatic arts, patrons and publishers and performance venues. (Reference Reviews)

Jaffe’s enterprising historical dictionary makes a welcome contribution to this literature, aimed at readers with a general interest in the development of Russian music, but also with a quantity of esoteric or previously little-known information. . . .Jaffe writes in a lively style with easily worn scholarship and a facility for writing readably, at the same time bringing to light little-known figures in the musical world and highlighting interesting factual details. . . .The thematically divided Bibliography is excellent, particularly in its inclusion of electronic as well as printed materials. Most of the secondary works, where they exist, are in English, but French, German and, particularly, Russian sources are used for the less well-known composers, musicians and topics. Also very welcome are electronic versions of some key primary texts. Daniel Jaffe is to be congratulated on performing such an immense task with aplomb, producing a compendium of great breadth that is full of carefully garnered information, bringing some of it together for the first time. It will make a lively and convenient reference work for general readers, as well as, in places, a tool for professionals. (Slavonic & East European Review)

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