study days

Music of the Russian Revolution

  • Friday 8 February 2019
  • Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
  • Lecturer: David Nice

The end of the First World War and the brave new world which was to be Soviet Russia opened up new possibilities for Russian composers. In the heady atmosphere of the 1920s, experimentation flourished and avant-garde music from the West reached Moscow and Petrograd/Leningrad. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes picked up in Paris, and its key composers, Stravinsky and Prokofiev, were ready to take up the Russian theme where they had left off. Prokofiev also travelled to the Soviet Union in 1927 and prepared to visit more often, eventually moving his home base from Paris to Moscow in 1936. By then the chaotic scene had been streamlined – many hoped for the best, but the aegis of the Association for Soviet Music, founded in 1932, turned out to have disastrous repercussions.

Programme for the day

  1. Prokofiev and Stravinsky: postwar ballets for Diaghilev, 1915-23
  2. The early days of Soviet music
  3. Prokofiev’s rapprochement with the USSR
  4. Shostakovich and Prokofiev: adapting to the changes


David Nice writes, lectures and broadcasts on music. A former music critic for The Guardian and The Sunday Correspondent, he is a regular voice on BBC Radio 3. He has written short studies on Elgar, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and the history of opera, and is currently working on the second volume of his Prokofiev biography for Yale University Press. He runs his own lecture series, Opera in Depth, at the Frontline Club in Paddington.

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