Link to home page

Sovremennaya muzyka = Современная музыка

(Moscow, 1924-1929)

Prepared by Natalia Ostroumova
Online only (2017)

The journal Sovremennaya muzyka (Современная музыка = Contemporary Music, CTM) was published irregularly in six volumes of thirty-two issues by the Association of Contemporary Music at the State Academy of the History of the Arts, Moscow, from 1924 until 1929: 1924 – six issues, 1925 – five issues, 1926 – four issues (three of them were double issues), 1927 – eight issues, 1928 – five issues, 1929 – one issue. Each issue contains thirty-two pages printed in single column format. The page numbering system is somewhat irregular: the issues of 1924 are numbered pagers 1 to 166; the issues of 1925 through No. 22 of 1927 are numbered 1 to 290; the issues of No. 23, 1927 to No. 31, 1928 are numbered 1 through 184; the final issue No. 32 in numbered 1 to 26. A table of contents is given at the outset of each issue, and advertisements with musical interest are found at the beginnings and conclusions of each issue.

Victor Mikhaylovich Belyaev, Vladimir Vladimirovich Derzhanovsky, Leonid Leonidovich Sabaneev, well-known Russian musicologists were editors of this journal. The purpose of the journal was the enlightenment and assessment of new currents in musical art, the analysis of works by modern composers, and information about the performance of modern music in Russia and abroad. According to Gerald R. Seeman, CTM “was an important journal, containing a mine of information, and notable for its close links with Western music.” The journal was published in a difficult time for the Russian culture: a period of re-evaluation of the values of culture and art owing to political reasons. Notable is the dominating political ideology’s influence on the development of the arts. Founders of the journal sought to defend their position on the modern art, to acquaint the public with the phenomenon of a new art, and to ask for an increase in the role of modern compositions in concert programs.

Sovremennaya muzika is of considerable interest to modern readers. It contains discussions of the creativity of modern composers. Among them are Paul Hindemith (Four Sonatas, op. 11 for stringed instruments with a piano), Nikolay Roslavets (cantata October), Nikolay Myaskovsky (Symphonies Nos. 3, 4, 6, 7, 9), Karol Szymanowski, Béla Bartók (String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2), and Alexander Gedike (Symphony No. 3). Reports also contain remarks on the works of lesser-known composers including Samuil Feynberg, Leonid Sabaneev, Alexander Cherepnin , Sergey Evseev (Symphony ор. 4), Lev Knipper (Dancing Suite Tales of the Plaster Buddha, Piano Pieces, op 3, ballet Satanella, Revolutionary Episodes for orchestra, op. 9, and orchestral works A Curious Case and Prelude). In its reviews CTM deals with the wide panorama of Russian and foreign concert life. Among them there are concerts of Association of Modern Music, International Society of Contemporary Music, the League of Composers, and the Moscow and Leningrad Philharmonic Societies, giving performances of works by Prokofiev, Scriabin, Myaskovsky, Stravinsky, Glazunov, A. Krein, L. Polovinkin, N. Roslavets, A. Shenshin, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Krenek, Egon Wellecz, Debussy, Ravel, Honegger, Milhaud, Richard Strauss, Hindemith, Kurt Weill, Ernst Bloch, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Béla Bartók, Zoltan Kodaly, Manuel de Falla,Karol Szymanowski and many others. In addition there is some discussion of the field of art of this era.

Each issue of the journal includes several sections announced with headings. In the first part there are sketches of work of modern composers, analysis of new works and new directions and tendencies of new music. Important among there are performances of Ernest Krenek’s Der Sprung über den Schatten, Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, Prokofiev`s opera Love of Three Oranges and his ballet Tale of the Clown, Dmitri Shostakovitch`s symphonic dedication To October, Alexandre Mosolov`s Suite from the ballet Steel and Piano Concerto, Leonid Polovinkin`s Prologue, Ottorino Respighi`s Pini di Roma among many others. Reviews of concert life in Russia and abroad follow. There are also short remarks on the creativity of contemporary modern composers in the section headed "Personalia." In the bibliographic section are reports about new books on music. Advertising is found at the end of each issue.