Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 6, No. 3 March 31th, 1943
Music in Soviet Russia
Music in Soviet Russia.
"Music in soviet Russia" was the subject of a talk given in C6 by Mr. Stanley Oliver, a well-known Wellington musician and [unclear: conductor] it was, the first of a series that has been inaugurated by the executive of the Students' Association and it [unclear: was] the music room with an [unclear: attentive] audience.
After a few preliminary skirmishes on the general state of [unclear: affairs] in Soviet Russia, for the understanding of which Mr. Oliver placed all responsibility on the audience, by such remarks as "you can substantiate any opinion you want to have about the Soviet if you know where to look For it," or "Marx gives me indigestion—it's tougn reading," Mr. Oliver started to talk of music.
Cultural [unclear: life] in the young Soviet was cnaotic, he said, and economic and social developments had outstripped artistic developments, but in 1936 the Central Art Committee arose out of 15 years' experimenting, to control the arts. Choirs went on tour, even to co-operative farms; the Red Army became a hive of musical activity.
An Association of Soviet Composers was formed, and had 200 members in 1937. It built an apartment house for composers, with soundproof walls, concert halls, a scientific department, a library and so on. The Association fostered departments for film music, military music, children's music, and folksong research.
Patriotic songs were produced, but not of the Pack up your Troubles kind. The Soviet doesn't pack up its troubles, Mr. Oliver said. It faces them out.
All factories over a certain size were required by law to have a music department. The Stalin Auto Factory, with its Palace of Culture and Rest, had, in one month's programme, two operas, two symphony concerts, three films, Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night," plays by Ibsen and Tolstoy, two jazz bands, and other attractions.
Factory creches, which made, it possible for women to work if they wished to, before the war, made a living thing out of children's music, with the help of the Association of Soviet Composers.
"In Soviet Russia there is no such thing as Art for Art's Sake", said Mr. Oliver. "It's Art for the People's sake."
Left with the impression that the Soviet can do no wrong in affairs musical, and with a glowing account still ringing in their ears of a perfect Arcady of the Right Kind of People all enjoying the Right Kind of Music, the audience then heard a couple of the iconoclastic, destructive compositions of the period of artigtic revolution, and then a few slices chosen at random from Dmitri Schostakovichos Fifth Symphony.
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Mr. Oliver expressed himself as "staggered" at the attention given by the audience to Mossoloy's "Iron Foundry" and Metus's "Dnieper Water Power Station." A handful of the audience may in its turn have been staggered at the dismembering of Shostakovich's Symphony.
At the end, everyone was happy; much delighted with Mr. Oliver's rhetoric, which he had delivered with some of the conductor's art, with violent szforzandi, sudden pianissimi, and a lot of those gestures that people love to see conductors make; and much delighted with his implicit belief in a union of republics where "75 to 100 million people under 35 have broken the tradition which nearly crippled us, and which we must finish, with the one more chance we have got."