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Sonic OverloadAlfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov, and Polystylism in the Late USSR$
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Peter J. Schmelz

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197541258

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197541258.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

The Soviet Culture of Collage

The Soviet Culture of Collage

(p.29) 1 The Soviet Culture of Collage
Sonic Overload

Peter J. Schmelz

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 discusses the precursors for polystylism in the film, visual arts, and musicking of the Soviet 1920s and 1930s. It begins by considering two compositions that encapsulate the initial motivations and method for polystylism: Schnittke’s Violin Sonata no. 2, “Quasi una Sonata,” from 1968, and Silvestrov’s Drama for violin, cello, and piano, composed between 1970 and 1971. Both works juxtapose different techniques and approaches, shifting, often quite radically, from extremely dissonant, sonoristic gestures to quotations or pastiche. This chapter also presents a genealogy of polystylism, looking first at polystylistic antecedents in the music of Dmitriy Shostakovich, Gavriil Popov, Boris Asafyev, and other composers, as well as the general trend toward collage and montage in the Russian visual arts and film from the teens to the 1930s. It concludes by exploring the collage works that took hold in the 1960s in the USSR, starting with Arvo Pärt’s Collage on the Theme B-A-C-H, before spreading more widely, ultimately providing the fuel for Schnittke’s early polystylistic compositions and his theorizing of polystylism by the end of the decade.

Keywords:   Alfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov, polystylism, collage, montage, Dmitriy Shostakovich, Arvo Part, Violin Sonata no. 2, Drama

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