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Among the first of Gerald Abraham’s many books were studies of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and his knowledge of Russian literature and culture has provided the key to his extensive research into the history of Slavonic music.
Studies in Russian Music brings together critical essays on the most important of Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas, and others such as Borodin’s Prince Igor, Dargomizhsky’s Stone Guest, and also includes chapters on Glinka, Mussorgsky, Balakirev and Tchaikovsky, copiously illustrated by music examples. In his Preface the author writes:
‘Although this is a book of separate essays, it is, I hope, given a certain unity by the fact that each chapter deals with some product or aspect of the ‘classical’ period of Russian music: the music of Glinka and, more particularly, that written in the half-century following his death. I have almost ignored Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, preferring to concentrate on the less discussed members of the ‘mighty handful,’ above all on Rimsky-Korsakov who has hitherto been unaccountably neglected by non-Russian critics. But in these studies of some of Korsakov’s operas I have concerned myself only with certain aspects of them … in the attempt to investigate the working of the composer’s musical mind.’
Essential reading for all students and lovers of Russian music.
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