Zhdanov Denounces “Formalism” in Music (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union published a decree opposing “antidemocratic formalism” in the music of the country’s leading composers.
Summary of Event
On February 10, 1948, the newspapers of the Soviet Union published a decree on music by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The decree was preceded by a three-day conference presided over by Andrei Zhdanov, Joseph Stalin’s heir apparent, even though both his health and power were in decline. At that conference, the works of internationally famous Soviet composers--Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Aram Ilich Khachaturian, and Nikolai Miaskovski in particular--were denounced and musical modernism or formalism was condemned explicitly.
The Soviet Union emerged from World War II considerably enlarged in territory but suffering from the immense destruction of four years of intense, total war with Nazi Germany and its allies. Attempts to subvert the governments of neighboring countries to increase Soviet dominance led to a reaction by the Western countries, in particular the Truman Doctrine (1947) to prevent further Soviet expansion through subversion in Turkey and Greece and the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. Western reaction against Soviet expansionism, poor harvests in the devastated western parts of the Soviet Union, and fear of popular...
(The entire section is 2148 words.)
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