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Music, politics, Stalin, Soviet Union, analysis


European History | Music | Political Science | Slavic Languages and Societies


The famed military theorist Karl von Clausewitz once wrote war is the pursuit of diplomacy by other means. That principle with the substitution of a few words, can be varied and applied to numerous fields of interest. The Soviet Union under the ageis of Stalin, had their own variation in regards to the realm of music--music was politics by other means. "Art for art's sake" did not serve the call of the Soviet people and was met with grave consequences. Music was a political tool, an idea brought to its fore by Stalin, meant to be used to instill Party ideology and thus terms like Socialist Realism and bourgeois decadence were used to describe music. Under Lenin the arts flourished during a period of experimentation, but as Stalin came to power a period of consolidation and regimentation developed as the confines of Socialist Realism were drawn to mean Party conformity. Stalin's perversion of Leninism resulted in the harsh and severe criticism of some of the Soviet Union's finest composers and their works which were found not to meet the current accepted standards of Socialist Realism and Marxist ideology. They were openly persecuted and labeled as being "cosmopolitan," "decadent," and "formalists." sensitive to petty-bourgeois tendencies so as to convert their fruits of labor to meet Party's needs. Following Stalin's death, a thaw grasped the land as his "cult of personality" was dispelled and a period of liberalization reigned.


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