Gregor Tassie describes Nikolay Myaskovsky as "one of the great enigmas of 20th-century Russian music." Between the two world wars, the symphonies of Myaskovsky enjoyed great popularity and were performed by all major American and European orchestras; they were some of the most inspiring symphonic works of the last hundred years and prolonged the symphonic genre. But accusations of "formalism" at the 1948 USSR Composers Congress resulted in the purposeful neglect of his music until the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This book is the first full-length biography in English of the unjustly neglected Russian composer Nikolay Myaskovsky (1881-1950). To say that the volume fills an enormous gap in music historiography would be an understatement. In the 1930s and 1940s, Myaskovsky was one of the world's most often performed contemporary composers. He had the misfortune of dying at the height of the Cold War, before the death of Stalin. Accused in 1948 of 'formalism' and other violations of the official Soviet aesthetic of socialist realism, Myaskovsky found himself out of favor in the Soviet Union and no longer the recipient of wartime goodwill from the former anti-Nazi allies. Tassie has done yeoman archival work, and he presents a full account of Myaskovsky's early family life and education as a military engineer in the Tsarist period; his life as a student and young professional composer in the traumatic period between the 1905 and 1917 revolutions; and his remarkably successful career in the Soviet period as a composer of uncompromising artistic and ethical standards. Tassie also includes discussions of Myaskovsky's creative output: 27 symphonies and other orchestral works, solo works, and chamber pieces. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. CHOICE In Nikolay Myaskovsky: The Conscience of Russian Music, Gregor Tassie charts his way through his subject's life in commendable and confident detail. Slavic and East European Review Now comes a new, and very important, study of the composer Nikolai Myaskovsky...Tassie is an enthusiast for Myakovsky's music ... but his enthusiasm never over-rides his critical faculties: always sympathetic to the subject, what emerges above all from these engrossing and well-written pages is the compelling story of a superb musician and important composer who has never truly had his due. What Tass has accomplished here is a remarkably successful synthesis of biography and musical analysis, proving ... that there is more to music composed in Russia during the Soviet period than Shostakovich and Prokofiev ... as Tassie's fascinating articles in this journal have demonstrated in recent years and which this major new book powerfully demonstrates. Musical Opinion A revival of Myaskovsky's music, especially in America, is long overdue. It is to be hoped that this excellent book may help bring that about...Highly recommended. Classical Net I'm delighted to report that Tassie's new book fills a conspicuous gap with distinction and insight...This is essential reading for anybody with an interest in the history of Russian and Soviet music, or in the development of the twentieth-century symphony. I recommend it strongly. International Record Review Miaskovsky (1881-1950) has been long overdue for a competent biography, and Gregor Tassie supplies that need. It's a biography WH Auden would have praised...Tassie's book is a worthwhile account of a worthwhile composer. The reader will finish it with respect, tinged with sadness over the life of an honorable man and an admirable artist ... [The author's] descriptions of the music are concise and readable. American Record Guide The book by Gregor Tassie on Myaskovsky is an honest and profound exploration of this fascinating figure in Russian musical history. It contains many important and hitherto unknown details about the Russian and Soviet music life. Tassie makes it clear that without a proper understanding of the Myaskovsky phenomenon there can't be a complete picture of the Russian music in the 20th century. An important achievement! -- Vladimir Yurowski, principal conductor, London Philharmonic Orchestra Myaskovsky is a composer I have been interested in for a long time. He has always appeared a dark, gray character, but Tassie's study wonderfully opens up his personality to readers. All the warmth and humanity of this man appears, and he is revealed as a deeply tragic human being and a great composer. -- Oliver Knussen, artist-in-association, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number Of Pages: 438
Published: 31st July 2014
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 16.1 x 3.5
Weight (kg): 0.77