The Semantics of Revolutionary Imagery

Keywords: 20th century Russian music, revolutionary imagery, Dmitri Shostakovich, the folklore of the Revolution, the folklore of the Civil War.


The formation of revolutionary imagery
in the works of 20th century Russian composers
turned out to be a lengthy process. Its decisive
stage coincides with the 1950s and is primarily
connected with the musical legacy of Dmitri
Shostakovich. Among the main criteria
of revolutionary semantics, the following are
highlighted in the article: the direct or indirect
connections with the folklore of the Revolution
and the Civil War; efficacy and drama, which
presumes the recreation of the high tension
of life experience, outlining of confrontations
of life; the audacity, virility and sternness
of tone, a highlighted civic consciousness
of utterance, a martial, assertive spirit.
The varieties of the examined complex
are viewed according the principles of paired
contrasts: the march-like vs. the swirling,
the songlike vs. the instrumental,
the potential vs. the kinetic.
At the same time, it is emphasized that
the attribute of the march in all
of its possible interpretations, open or
concealed, always remains the foundation
of revolutionary imagery.
The dialectic quality inherent to it always
becomes unfolded in conjugacy with such
seemingly incompatible pictorial characteristic
features as being tuned at an irate mood
and the spirit of radiance. Within the system
of the examined semantics, they appear
as mutually complimentary essences
forming an organic whole.

The Art of Music