TAMING OF THE ARTS by Juri Jelagin


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An eye-witness, personal experience story of artistic life behind the iron curtain in the decade, 1930-1940, is told by a violinist in Moscow theatre orchestras who was later a student at the Moscow Conservatory. In it he describes the era of degradation which followed the seething creativeness of earlier years, absurd episodes of official strangulation which had their fateful meaning, the dictatorship which developed both as to content and form in stage and music when the freedom to create was subjected to proletarian criticism and party censorship. He makes clear the transient safety of the theatrical and musical worlds, for even though he was disfranchised a violinist's job was open to him at the Second Arts Theatre, eventually his rights were restored to him, but with the Yehezov meat grinder crushing everything cultural, drastic changes emerged, purges followed until the State subordinated talent to policy. His personal story brings in the career of Shostakovich, the debasement of Aleksei Tolstoy, the downfall of Meyerhold and many other Russian artists and ends with his escape from the machine when his rebellion takes him on a military concert tour which won him an assignment leading to American entry as a DP. Of especial interest to followers of modern theatre and music, this report of the Soviet firing squad on the artistic front.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1950
Publisher: Dutton