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1837Russia's Quiet Revolution$
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Paul W. Werth

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826354.001.0001

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A Life for the Tsar, an Opera for the Nation

A Life for the Tsar, an Opera for the Nation

(p.28) 2 A Life for the Tsar, an Opera for the Nation

Paul W. Werth

Oxford University Press

Performed as A Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin in the USSR), composer Mikhail Glinka’s first opera occupies a unique place in both Russian music and Russian history. Contemporaries asserted its importance almost immediately. As one critic wrote ten days after the premiere, ‘Glinka’s opera appeared suddenly, as if from nowhere’, signifying ‘the dawn of a new age in the history of the arts––the age of Russian music’. Premiered in November 1836 and completed the next year, A Life for the Tsar represents a watershed—a major event in the history of Russian musical culture, signalling the country’s arrival as a musical power, the mobilization of opera in Russia’s nation-building, and a process of myth-making about these and other issues.

Keywords:   Mikhail Glinka, Ivan Susanin, opera, nation-building, mythology, canonization, Poland, narodnost

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