This article challenges the privileged position that Glinka’s Kamarinskaia (1848) has assumed in accounts of Russian instrumental music. The first half of the article investigates nineteenth-century reception of Glinka’s orchestral works and demonstrates that his Jota Aragonese (1845) and Memory of a Summer Night in Madrid (1851) were just as popular as Kamarinskaia among Russian audiences of the time. It also traces the persistent references that critics such as Vladimir Stasov and Alexander Serov made to the organic qualities of all three of these orchestral fantasias. Although the variational techniques that Glinka employs in the fantasias have commonly been viewed as the very opposite of organic, Stasov and Serov appear to have been relying on a different theorization of musical organicism, namely that of Adolf Bernhard Marx. A Marxian framework helps to explain the popularity of Jota and Madrid alongside Kamarinskaia in nineteenth-century Russia, and it also provides an entry point for closer analytical investigations of the three fantasias. These analyses, comprising the second half of the article, illustrate certain distinguishing features of each fantasia as noted by nineteenth-century musicians and suggest that the fantasias represent highly divergent approaches to orchestral composition. Given the prominence of all three fantasias in nineteenth-century Russia, an awareness of these contrasting approaches allows for a more nuanced understanding of the compositional choices made by subsequent generations of Russian composers.
Glinka’s Three Symphonic Acorns
Kirill Zikanov recently received his PhD with highest distinction from Yale University. His research focuses on nineteenth-century Russian orchestral music, particularly in the areas of reception, aesthetics, and history of theory.
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Kirill Zikanov; Glinka’s Three Symphonic Acorns. 19th-Century Music 1 April 2019; 42 (3): 184–224. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2019.42.3.184
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