After more than a century and a half of studying Glinka, we hardly know Glinka: he remains ever elusive and illusive. And that is because Glinka is a construct, one that came into existence in the stories of those who knew him. In this study I examine the posthumous construction of Glinka by the members of his circles, concentrating on the primary sources that originated as obituaries and commentaries to the publications of Glinka’s letters and his autobiography, the Zapiski. The enigmatic image that Glinka left behind compelled many of his acquaintances to rush in to control the damage, offer their correctives, preserve their perception of the true Glinka, and claim him for their ideological causes; they also aimed to uphold and partake in his legacy. The result was a series of astonishingly diverse and conflicting representations of Glinka that laid the foundation of the Glinka mythology, without which the subsequent canonization(s) of the composer would have been impossible. Although I consider in some detail the historiographic problems in the way the sources have been used in Glinka scholarship, my primary concern is with the sources themselves, with the questions of who speaks for Glinka, why they do so, and how. In answering these questions I seek to deconstruct and contextualize the hagiographies by looking at the writers who produced them, specifically through the lens of the social circles to which they and Glinka belonged.
Daniil Zavlunov is lecturer in music at Princeton University. His research focuses on Glinka, nineteenth-century Russian, Italian and French opera, and music analysis. He is currently writing a book on Glinka’s operas.
Daniil Zavlunov; Constructing Glinka. Journal of Musicology 1 July 2014; 31 (3): 326–353. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2014.31.3.326
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