Date of Award
The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was the culmination of over fifty years of political and social unrest. For millions of Russian peasants it represented a welcome and just end to an unresponsive, autocratic government. The communism being preached by the Bolsheviks promised economic improvements for these oppressed masses, and they needed and wanted such improvements.
But in the minds of the intellectual classes of Russia, the teachers, scholars and artists, the Revolution created a fear. A fear that in place of an unpredictable, stifling autocracy, a government would develop that would completely control even the creative activity of Russian life. And the more they saw of the new government the more their fears grew. For: "the new government policy was an attempt to force all the artists of Russia into large unions so their efforts could be channelled directly into the service of the state."
Thousands of artists fled the country rather than submit to such stringent controls. Some stayed to protest and were imprisoned or exiled. Other passively accepted the new lifestyle in order to stay in their homeland. The reactions were varied and depended on the temperament of each individual. Those who chose to leave faced an adjustment to a new home. Those who stayed had to adjust to their changed home and had to compromise their artistic standards.
I have chosen to present four composers and their reactions to the Revolution and the new Soviet government. Their reactions are varied and representative of all Russian musicians and other artists. The composers are Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Nikolai Miaskovsky and Serge Prokofiev.
Hardin, Philip Wayne, "The Effects of the Bolshevik Revolution of Four Russian Composers" (1972). Honors Theses. 442.