The thaw and the idea of National Gemeinschaft: the All-Russian Choral Society.
Both aspects can be addressed by investigating a significant sociocultural movement--the history of the All-Russian Choral Society (Vserossiiskoe khorovoe obshchestvo, VKhO)--which has heretofore been ignored by historians of Russian nationalism in the post-Stalinist period and has hardly been touched upon by social historians of Russia. This neglect can primarily be attributed to scholars' preoccupation with writers, literary journals, and publishing houses and, somewhat less frequently, with artists and the communities they belonged to. Music has barely been addressed, except for pathbreaking investigations by Laura Olson, Susannah Lockwood Smith, and, for the period prior to Stalin's death, Marina Frolova-Walker. (3)
In this article I trace the history of the developmental movement for Russian choral singing in the framework of the All-Russian Choral Society, which was founded in 1957, remained in operation until 1987, and was unexpectedly resurrected in 2013. I reconstruct the prerevolutionary genesis of the Society's guiding principles, their deep transformation under the influence of modernizing and antimodernizing elements in its ideology and institutional praxis, drawing on its organizers' writings and their biographies. As the sources show, the All-Russian Choral Society should be understood as an aesthetic and sociological project, one that dovetailed with the state's cultural politics in the late 1950s and early 1960s, drawing from and contributing to them.
Having systematically analyzed the various ideological, aesthetic, and organizational sources of the All-Russian Choral Society, I also trace how the intentions behind its ideological program were understood by cultural figures of the 1950s and 1960s who did not join the movement, and how they entered into a polemic with the Society in order to defend their own conceptions of social solidarity. In the final section of the article I demonstrate how this institution has once again gained resonance in contemporary Russian society. Soviet political and cultural elites never completely assimilated the ideological program of social solidarity advanced by the All-Russian Choral Society. Only in the 2010s did it reach its apogee, when it was reanimated in a scope that was far more limited but also significantly more radical than the Society's founding ideologists had intended.
A major characteristic of the All-Russian Choral Society was its emphasis on the formation of a highly developed culture of choral performance. Based on the accomplishments of prerevolutionary music around the beginning of the 20th century, it also drew on new types of social, emotionally experienced solidarity, for which Soviet political elites had been calling since the early 1920s, and which gained renewed traction immediately following the 20th Party Congress in 1956. The All-Russian Choral Society de facto advanced a program of nationalism, based not on narratives of the "greatness of the people" but on specific performative practices that gave expression to such greatness. (4)
The All-Russian Choral Society and Its Aims
Officially, the All-Russian Choral Society dates to 10 June 1957, when the Soviet of Ministers of the RSFSR created an organizing committee (orgkomitet) to oversee its formation. At the outset, the new institution was intended to function within the RSFSR, with branches in all its regions (oblasti), territories (krai), and autonomous republics. Deliberations on the statutes and establishment of branches took longer than initially planned: the Organizing Committee's first plenary session met in April 1958. Only in June 1959, two years after the founding resolution, did the All-Russian Choral Society hold its first congress, ratifying its statutes and working program. (5)
The Society was initiated and headed by the famous choirmaster Aleksandr Vasil'evich Sveshnikov (1890-1980), who had been rector of the Moscow State Conservatory (Moskovskaia gosudarstvennaia konservatoriia) since 1948. Sveshnikov had been active since the early 1920s in organizing choral associations, including the State Choir of the Russian Song (Gosudarstvennyi khor russkoi pesni) in 1936 and the Moscow Choral School (Moskovskoe khorovoe uchilishche) in 1944. In the late 1950s, he took these efforts to a new level, gaining support from the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Soviet Composers. Members of the Organizing Committee included A. G. Novikov, head of the Organizing Committee of the Union of Soviet Composers, and A. A. Kholodilin, vice-director of the Board of Artistic Affairs of the RSFSR's Ministry of Culture.
It is significant, however, that the Society did not intend to extend its activities throughout the Soviet Union but only within the RSFSR, which organizers viewed as disadvantaged vis-a-vis other republics. Presenters at the first plenum of the Organizing Committee in April 1958 and at the first founding session in June 1959 repeatedly emphasized that the art of choral singing and social cooperation among choirs in general were infinitely more advanced elsewhere, especially in the Baltics, as well as in "social democratic countries." The time had finally come to remedy the backwardness of the RSFSR. Each of the Society's regional branches was to curate performances and cooperation among dozens of professional and amateur choirs, as well as to increase awareness of the existence of these new choral collectivities. Membership to the Society was open to any citizen of the republic over 16 who paid the annual membership fee. Institutional membership, too, was open to independent musical collectives, educational institutions, industrial enterprises, and kolkhozes, although far greater monetary contributions were demanded of them.
Sveshnikov designated the tasks of the Organizing Committee and of the Society itself, listing them succinctly in 1958: the "mass recruitment of workers to choral singing" (which necessarily demanded the organization of "mass education in music," particularly of adults); "assistance in creating the very best organization of vocal and musical education and training in general education schools"; "preparation of choral directors"; and finally, the "creation and dissemination of a choral repertoire." (6) In this way, the field of activity defined by the All-Russian Choral Society was rather broad, including institutions of leisure, schools, institutions of higher education, sheet music publishers, radio and television broadcasting, theaters, concert halls, and other venues, such as parks and outdoor stages in the summer, where the choral repertoire could be showcased.
The aim of the All-Russian Choral Society's leaders was not to popularize choral singing and mass musical education in all their possible manifestations, but to promote one very specific form of cultural education. Society activists had already begun to pursue these aims prior to 1957, through directorships of choral collectives or through their teaching positions at conservatories. After the Society's creation in 1957, they sought to expand their activities republic-wide.
The aesthetic and methodological bases of the Society were already clearly reflected in an article Sveshnikov published in the newspaper Sovetskaia kul'tura on 20 August 1953, four years before the Society was officially established. Its essential components boil down to the following five points. First, choral singing had been highly developed as a mass art form in prerevolutionary Russia. The Moscow Synodal Choir and the St. Petersburg Court Chapel Choir had stood for "hundreds and thousands of highly qualified choral collectives." Second, the prerevolutionary choral tradition, which was essentially known as a church tradition, had been popular in nature: "despite the intentions of the church fathers, a living creative stream gushed through into church singing, influenced by an authentically popular source [samobytnoe narodnoe nachalo]. That is why it would be the coarsest mistake to equate Russian choral art with cultish Orthodox canticles." Third, the principal virtue and achievement of prerevolutionary Russian choral culture had been a cappella singing, which developed true musicianship among its practitioners. Fourth, both solo and choral performance in the RSFSR were in an extremely dilapidated condition in the 1950s, as manifested in general-education schools, amateur collectives, and the choir repertoire alike. By contrast, the choral movement was flourishing in the Baltic republics. Fifth, one reason for this dilapidation was the harmful influence of formalist composers on the development of Soviet music, with only a few enthusiasts writing choral works of any value. (7)
Some of the criteria Sveshnikov introduces in the text are rather diffuse and thus potentially subject to diverse interpretations, such as "lyricism" (raspevnost 0, "expressiveness" (vyrazitel'nost', and "naturalness" (estestvennost'). Nevertheless, it is clear that his use of the term "nationality" (narodnost') coincides closely with national-Bolshevism as outlined by David Brandenberger: Sveshnikov demonstratively speaks only of "Russia," the "Russian man," and of the "Russian culture of choral singing."
Sveshnikov's article appeared in the central press a few months after Stalin's death. Sveshnikov had become rector of the Moscow Conservatory in 1948, replacing V. Shebalin, a European-trained composer influenced by the aesthetics of modernism, who fell victim to the campaign against "formalism in music." At first glance, Sveshnikov's article seemed to follow the program outlined by Zhdanov, both in his speeches on music and on the occasion of the Politburo resolution of 10 February 1948 "On the Opera 'The Great Friendship' by V. Muradeli." Ffere, Central Committee bureaucrats invoked "popular tunes" (narodnye melodii) and polyphonic singing (polifonicheskoe penie), which were pronounced as key elements of musical art in 1948. (8) Yet a more sustained analysis of Sveshnikov's article highlights important departures from the ideology and discourse of the 1948 and 1949 campaigns: he avoided the aggressive rhetoric of the more militant pogromists of 1948. (9)
Paradoxically, Sveshnikov's programmatic article synthesized tendencies that were modernist and antimodernist. On the one hand, it relied heavily on essentializing concepts, such as "authenticity" (samobytnost'), "connection to life" (sviaz's zhizn 'iu), and "creative surges" (tvorcheskie poryvy). On the other, it clearly indicated that the desired "naturalness," "lyricism," and "expressivity" could result only from consistent and thorough training, as well as mastery of a large number of vocal and musical techniques, not simply by allowing an enthusiastic union of singers to perform. "Singing," as Sveshnikov said, "is the most difficult art." Thus he understood "naturalness" as a quality that was projected and intentionally initiated as part of carefully preplanned production. The very idea of training, itself ancient, was nevertheless rooted in modernity due to its connections with contemporary socioanthropological thought and its dissemination by means of contemporary social infrastructure. (10)
A combination of modernist and antimodernist directives thus typified the All-Russian Choral Society's activities, including the explicit orientation toward a prerevolutionary tradition and an openly stated need to restore the traditions of a specifically Russian culture of song and to improve upon them. For leaders of the Society, however, stylistics would be more important than repertoire: music composed by Russian and foreign composers, Russian folk songs, and works by contemporary Soviet composers could all be performed in a style that was marked as "traditionally Russian." (11) It was precisely in this regard that the Society differed from both Russian folk choirs of the 1930s-40s and the folklore choirs that flourished in the 1970s. (12)
Two programmatic articles Sveshnikov wrote in 1953--"Creating a Unitary Vocal Method" and "Elevating the Culture of Choral Singing"--were no less important in promoting a single, coherent theory of choral singing, which was to spread throughout the RSFSR and perhaps throughout the country. (13) The next section traces the genesis of this conception.
Predecessors 1: The Synodal Tradition
Directors of professional academic choirs held key positions in the Presidium of the All-Russian Choral Society, as well as leadership positions in its regional branches. Important posts were also occupied by teachers at the conservatories in Moscow, Leningrad, and elsewhere, in addition to teachers at music colleges. The majority were graduates of the Department of Choir Directing at the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories. (14) All these musicians were deeply interested in translating and disseminating a specific prerevolutionary tradition of choral performance, one that was associated with a delimited repertoire, a well-established conception of early musical education, and a high-level training in choral directorship. They themselves had been educated in the framework of this tradition and assigned tremendous authority to it.
In musical literature, this tradition has been called "Synodal." It was preserved de facto within the relevant departments of the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories, despite the Soviet states antichurch policies. (15) The largest professional choirs, too, played a role in its preservation, including the State Russian Choir of the USSR, the Leningrad Choir Cappella im. Glinka, and the Choir Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Soviet Army.
There was also a connection between the Synodal tradition and the modernist movement within Russian music, referred to in the 1890s as the "New Trend" (Novoe napravlenie) or the "Moscow School." Among the major proponents of the New Trend were the composers S. V. Rakhmaninov, A. T. Grechaninov, and A. D. Kastal'skii, as well as composer-choirmasters M. M. Ippolitov-Ivanov, V. I. Rebikov, S. V. Smolenskii, V. S. Orlov, N. M. Danilin, P. G. and A. G. Chesnokov, A. V. Nikol'skii, V. S. Kalinnikov, and N. N. Cherepnin. (16) The New Trends participants opposed the introduction of harmonies into church music, which followed German traditions that they deemed "Scholastic." They did, however, develop synthetic choral scores that combined harmony, counterpoint, and aspects of Russian folk music. Such "folk" elements included melodic progressions in parallel fifths and octaves; frequent shifts between four parts and two or three parts; the singing of entire phrases by a single voice against the background of a single note held by other singers; and a close connection between text and musical phrasing. (17) Most New Trend choral compositions were to be performed a cappella, without musical accompaniment. "Russian folk" (Russkoe narodnoe) elements were interpreted within the New Trend as mixing traditional folklore with ancient Greek and Slavonic chant. Rakhmaninov's "All-Night Vigil," Kastal'skii's "Eternal Memory," and Chesnokov's "Liturgy" became the best-known exemplars.
In this way, the role of New Trend composers in church music was a classic example of "invented tradition," akin to the role that modernist painters played in inventing "Russian folk art" during the same years. (18) The point was not lost on M. A. Lisitsyn, a St. Petersburg priest and journalist who expounded New Trend ideology. (19) In 1909, he wrote: "If we understand revolution as the renovation and refreshment of an atmosphere, taken with a bold step in relation to the previous epoch, then there would be some justice in referring to the new trend this way.... Everywhere, you will recognize something ancient, inspired by something new.... In decadence, you observe the synthesis of ancient ideas with new currents." (20)
Performing the new music required fundamental reform of vocal and choir practices, especially the system of preparing choristers and precentors for church choirs. The reforms were primarily undertaken at the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing, whose director between 1889 and 1901 was the choirmaster and composer S. V. Smolenskii, the initiator and driving force behind the reforms. The school's curriculum came to include music theory and performance classes. Whereas in 1898 graduation from the school counted as the equivalent of completing middle school (ninth grade), by 1910 it functioned as the de facto equivalent of a higher musical education, whose curriculum barely differed from that of a conservatory. (21)
Central to the national culture of performance, according to representatives of the New Trend, was the most refined command of the timbre of the human voice, founded on careful control of breath, exact intonation, flawless rhythmic patterning, and precise articulation. All these requirements were demanded not only of each individual singer but of the choir as a whole.
The role of the director was thereby elevated above that of an ordinary precentor (regent): he needed to become a highly educated musical performer with multifaceted training. (22) His instrument, however, would be the mixed, many-voiced choir, which must with maximum accuracy personify his interpretation of a given work, his dramatic theory and inner dynamic. (23) This, in turn, demanded a high level of vocal cultivation and inner discipline from every choir member and from the choir as a whole: indeed, developing such cultivation and discipline demanded more than 100 years of systematic effort on the part of practitioners and followers of the Synodal movement.
The word "discipline" appeared rather early in the vocabulary of participants in the Synodal tradition. Boris Asaf'ev was one of its advocates. Beginning as a propagandist of European musical modernism, he became one of the best-established Soviet musicologists, winning the Stalin Prize twice. Already in 1924, during his early, "modernist" period, he wrote, "highest of all is the [cross-cultural] and collectivizing [obshchekul 'turnoe i obobshchestvliaiushchee] meaning of the choral collective's organically harmonious performance, in which the affective emotional power of the human voice melds with the power of stringent discipline." (24)
The fate of the Synodal tradition was shaped by the Synodal School's transformation in 1918 into the State People's Choral Academy, which in turn was folded into the Moscow Conservatory in 1923, under the auspices of the Choir Directing Section. The best teachers at the Synodal School and directors of the Synodal Choir thus became teachers at the Moscow Conservatory. From the 1920s to the first half of the 1940s, they included Danilin (1878-1945), Chesnokov (1877-1944), and Nikol'skii (1874-1943), with whom future leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society trained, and from whom they adopted the Synodal School's greatest attainments. A similar line of continuity can be traced in Leningrad. The Conservatory's Department of Choir Directing would employ former teachers at the Imperial Court Capella, known after the revolution as the Leningrad Academic Capella.
The foregoing shows how principles of performance could be preserved in the absence of the movement that gave rise to them. Although the new performance culture had arisen at the turn of the 20th century in response to the needs of a particular movement--the New Trend--its principles could be carried forward into the 1920s and 1930s despite the ban on or significant curtailment of public performances of works by its composers, and indeed of Russian church music more generally. Teachers might pass them on to students, "omitting" the repertoire for which they were initially elaborated. Sveshnikov described precisely this kind of transmission in the 1953 article quoted above. The techniques and ethos of choral singing he had inherited were now defined as the most accurate and appropriate expression of the national.
Sveshnikov's career as head of the All-Russian Choral Society's Organizing Committee and rector of the Moscow Conservatory demonstrates how this transmission took place. It also shows the depth of the connection between modernist choral music of the turn of the 20th century and Soviet music of the mid-20th century. Sveshnikov was born in Kolomna in 1890, and during the first 27 years of his life he was able fully to immerse himself in the Synodal tradition. Graduating in 1913, he studied at the Synodal School at the time of its fullest efflorescence, going on to serve as choral director for various church choirs. In the early 1920s, he was already one of Moscow's best-known directors, serving at the Church of the Dormition Among the Graves (na Mogil 'tsakh). The Synodal tradition was tightly interwoven with the secular in Sveshnikov's biography. In the 1920s, he headed the vocal section of the First Studio of the Moscow Art Theater (MKhAT). This was an experimental group of young actors, which Konstantin Stanislavskii and Leopol'd Sulerzhitskii organized in 1912. Between 1928 and 1936, Sveshnikov would lead the choir of the All-Union Radio Committee. He also directed the State Choir of the USSR between 1936 and 1937, as well as the Leningrad Choir Capella between 1937 and 1941, before he became head of the Moscow Conservatory in 1948.
Sveshnikov's "right-hand man" at the All-Russian Choral Society was its future administrative chair, Vladislav Gennadievich Sokolov (1908-93). Sveshnikov's junior by 18 years, Sokolov came from a priestly family: his father, who had also been a choir director, led the choir at a women's ecclesiastical school (dukhovnoe uchilishche), having studied choral direction at the Synodal School. (25) In this way, Sokolov's familiarity with the prerevolutionary Synodal tradition traced back to his earliest childhood. In an interview he gave much later, Sokolov spoke of this connection with pride: "[I] sang in the church choir, listened to the music of Bortianskii, Chesnokov, Shvedov, Vedel'--I can still hear it now. I think I preserved it all.... Although I rehearsed pioneer and soldiers' songs with choirs, the atmosphere in my soul remained what it had been in my childhood." (26) Unlike Sveshnikov, Sokolov, who was a musician of the postrevolutionary generation, never worked with church choirs. His employment record listed directorship of the Choir of the Institute of Art Education of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, the Choir Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Soviet Army, and numerous choirs of Moscow conservatory students.
Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Egorov (1887-1959), a member of the Society's Organizing Committee, also transmitted the modernist aesthetics of choral music to the Society. Of the same generation as Sveshnikov, he graduated from the Imperial Court Capella and went on to teach music theory there but joined the Leningrad Conservatory after the revolution.
In the 1910s, the leaders of the Synodal School worked to spread the aesthetic they had elaborated as widely as possible among participants in professional and amateur choirs in the Russian provinces. Nikol'skii, a teacher at the Synodal School and at the People's Conservatory in Moscow, issued a call to open beginners' singing courses: not to a hundred students but to five hundred at a minimum, perhaps even a thousand. (27) The fulfillment of such ambitious plans faced numerous impediments. The Synodal tradition offered clearly defined guidelines on methods for the preparation of future choir singers, choirmasters, and entire choirs, even though the Synodal School possessed no organizational structure to reach Russia away from the capitals.
By the time the All-Russian Choral Society was founded in 1957, however, the popularity of professional choral singing had entered a steep decline. Its leaders would attempt to organize entire choral collectives from scratch. Obviously, they badly needed such structures to realize their largescale plans. Complicating matters, the Synodalists had developed their methods for choirs of church parishioners, not for secular choirs, while the leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society were interested precisely in secular song. Here a different prerevolutionary musical institution came to their aid. This, too, was a tradition with which the Society's founders were thoroughly familiar.
Predecessors 2: Choral Societies in Imperial Russia
The name of the All-Russian Choral Society itself suggests that one of its direct historical predecessors was the Russian Choral Society. A point of orientation for the new organization, the Russian Choral Society was founded in 1878 and lasted until the October Revolution. (28)
The Russian Choral Society was essentially an amateur choir, though it also took on an ambitious educational and publishing mission. As early as 1881 two-year choral classes were opened, and in 1882 the Society began to publish its own choral anthologies. (29) Ten years after the Society's founding, enough women had joined that the choir became a mixed choir. (30) The first conductor and director of the Russian Choral Society was Karl Al'brekht, who had previously elaborated his own method of teaching music literacy with maximum speed to church choirs. (31) As we will see, the All-Russian Choral Society's leaders later became interested in his methods.
Each year the Russian Choral Society offered several concerts, attracting large audiences. It performed at the opening of the Pushkin Monument in 1880, as well as at the coronation of Nicholas II in 1895. Yet concert activity was not the Society's reason for being, at least not in the opinion of its founders and longest-standing members. Rather they aimed to establish a societal community of nonprofessionals who nonetheless aspired to achieve a high level of mastery in choral performance. "The Society's aim," as its chronicler A. Chizhov attested, "is not grandiose concerts, but rather to allow people to come together ... singing good choral compositions." Similar associations, he noted, existed elsewhere: "In Germany, students set out ins Grune (into nature) and immediately a choir is formed. In Italy, I was witness several times to a street choir--unschooled, of course--offering outstanding performances of very difficult choral compositions." (32)
As the Russian Choral Society developed, its founders steadily grew more explicit about its social and cultural aims. They strove to form a choir that was "musically developed and methodically trained." The choir was not only to demonstrate "lively rhythmic agility" but to command a "highly nuanced" range of vocal timbres capable of melding into one, beautiful sound. It was also taught "specific rules of breathing in order to raise the vocal ensemble to such a level of mastery and discipline ... as to become a single, responsive instrument in the powerful hands of a performing director." (33) Yet the Society's leaders continually underlined that all this would be possible only by preserving and cultivating the tradition of a cappella singing, which they defined as "living since ancient times in the consciousness of the Russian people" but also, "up to now, existing in a state of deep neglect." (34)
It is clear that the Russian Choral Society had adopted the methods of the Synodal tradition of the 1880s-90s virtually wholesale. Indeed, the connection between the Society, the Synodal Choir and its school, and later the choir-conducting department of the Moscow Conservatory was as close as could be: the same composers wrote for both choirs, and they employed the same choir directors. Thus V. S. Orlov, a famous choirmaster and conductor of the Synodal Choir, began his career at the Russian Choral Society in 1882-86, while Pavel Chesnokov, who taught at the Synodal School for 20 years, served as last director of the Society's capella from 1916 to 1917. He transferred to the Moscow Conservatory in 1921, where he worked at the same department as the All-Russian Choral Society's founders--Sveshnikov, Sokolov, and Klavdii Borisovich Ptitsa. Chesnokov may indeed have been their "living link" to the practices of the Russian Choral Society.
Participants in the Russian Choral Society from 1890 to the 1900s were organically keyed into the process of "inventing" a national tradition that had begun with composers of the New Trend and choirmasters of the Synodal Choir. The choir of the Russian Choral Society, unlike the Moscow Synodal Choir and the St. Petersburg Court Capella, performed only at concert halls and never accompanied church services. For this reason, the Society's founder and choir director, Al'brekht, inevitably confronted difficulties with the repertoire. He worked constantly to resolve them, either by arranging foreign compositions or folk songs for his choir or by encouraging Russian composers to write choral compositions. Among them were participants in the New Trend. Chizhov explained at the Society's 25-year jubilee that the "absence of a Russian choral literature forced [us] to turn to foreign [works]. The first to compose for the Society was Sergei Ivanovich Taneev. In 1880, during Holy [Week], we received a red egg containing his 'Nocturne.' ... Choral literature began to develop. Now, it includes such lights as ... Kiui, Rimskii-Korsakov, Arenskii, Ippolitov-Ivanov, Gerchaninov, Vasilenko, Sakhnovskii, Keneman, Cherepnin, Antsev, and many others." (35) The Society's repertoire grew exponentially. In 1880, it consisted of 65 works; in 1882, 115; in 1883, 158; in 1888, 203. By the time of the 25th jubilee, there were 2,486 choral pieces by 522 composers.
This tradition, inventing itself as it developed, was invested with meaning by Sentimental and Rousseauist notions about the primacy of a cappella and four-part song as the "purest form of music." (36) The founders and later leaders of the Russian Choral Society understood choral song, particularly a cappella singing, as a "primordially popular" tradition, one that expressed the very essence of the art of music and demanded a high level of training--indeed, its own culture of music and performance. These views, which coincided so closely with the ones Sveshnikov expressed in 1953, were taken over virtually wholesale by the All-Russian Choral Society.
The rise of the Russian Choral Society and its success encouraged imitators in other Russian cities. According to Chizhov, "persons who sympathized with the Society's aims founded many choral circles and societies in the provinces," though these remained independent of the Russian Choral Society. (37)
The Society's longevity and its success in creating a choral repertoire, in attracting audience attention, and in promoting the education of future directors of church and folk choirs cannot have failed to impress itself upon Sveshnikov and his colleagues at the time they founded the All-Russian Choral Society. (38) Much later, in the 1970s, at any rate, both ideologists of the All-Russian Choral Society and journalists writing about the Society would refer to it confidently as a successor to the Russian Choral Society.
The aesthetic promoted by leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society was of complicated and even paradoxical origins. On the one hand, it drew on the Synodal tradition, to which composers of the New Trend contributed and thus developed out of modernism as it was understood in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. On the other hand, the All-Russian Choral Society also fed off developments of the 1940s, specifically 1948, that were distincdy "antiformalist" and therefore belonged to a new, antimodernist ideology.
As they worked to create the Society in the late 1950s, Sveshnikov and his colleagues were forced by the 20th Party Congress and ensuing changes to social and cultural policy to transform their original plans as well as the ideological basis of those plans. The project that emerged was no longer "national Bolshevist," but rather "Thaw nationalist." Gone were all references to "formalism" and to the "musical" pronouncements of the Communist Party leadership of 1948-49. (39) Instead, emphasis was placed on the Soviet people's "laboring enthusiasm," indeed on its "patriotic enthusiasm," which must be supported, developed, and satisfied by means of choral song as one of the most easily accessible forms of mass art. Enthusiasm of this kind differed from its previous incarnations in that it was predicated on personal initiative and creativity. (40) The demand for a new type of civic loyalty was formulated at the 20th Party Congress in 1956, a loyalty not predicated on political repression. Its promoters posited that such loyalty would be developed in and through the spheres of education and culture.
The All-Russian Choral Society was founded amid the Thaw, when the Communist Party leadership turned back toward the universalist ideals of early Bolshevism. Interest in the aesthetics and social ideas of the 1920s increased sharply during the second half of the 1950s--toward avantgarde art, internationalist universalism, and futurist projections. The stated rejection of Stalinism in public rhetoric by Communist Party functionaries was formulated in positive terms as the "restoration of Leninist norms of party life." The 20th Party Congress declared that this "restoration," together with "adherence to collective decision making and the struggle against the cult of personality," had already succeeded in substantially improving the situation in the country. (41)
Overall, Nikita Khrushchev's policies aimed at opening up Soviet society somewhat and at strengthening ties with other countries, turning away from the late Stalinist government's use of Russian nationalist propaganda. (42) Hoping to strengthen public support for his policies, as Yitzhak Brudny has shown, Khrushchev attempted to widen the spectrum of positions permitted in the Soviet public sphere in small ways, which included restrained nationalism. (43) The All-Russian Choral Society's program of moderate nationalism coincided with Khrushchev's policy in this key respect: it aimed to cultivate a new, emotionally saturated social enthusiasm. One of the Society's most important aims was to create a new type of association and emotional ties that were supposed to bind every subject who became involved into a "primordial," "popular" musical tradition. That is why, even if pronouncements by activists in the Society contradicted official statements, the Society was permitted to grow and even enjoyed some level of protection by the state for a fairly long time.
In a concluding speech at the plenum of the first session of the All-Russian Choral Society in 1958, Deputy Minister of Culture N. K. Semenov laconically explained why the state felt such a need for the Society's assistance: "the times are such that the further [one goes], the more one wants to sing" (vremia takoe, chto chem dal 'she, tem bol 'she zakhochetsia pet '). (44) Song gave voice to joyful feelings, which were welcome in the plans and ideology of leading members of the Soviet state under Khrushchev, and which constituted one of several commonalities between the state and the incipient choral society. Sveshnikov elaborated: "When a person feels good inside, he wants to sing, but he does not know how. He really does need to sing, so that at a May or October demonstration, the choir would sound triumphantly, so that the voices are strong. But they can only be strong if people know how to sing." The mass audiences who attended the Society's concerts in 1959 often received lectures by Sveshnikov on the importance of such loyalty. (45)
If joy and loyalty were a junctural link uniting nationally oriented choir activists with the party leadership, then a second element was the cohesion of emotions and ideas that would result from learning to sing and singing in a choir among members of workers' collectives: a "choral collective brings people much closer. The feeling of comradeship, of comradely support, [is] so needed now, as we build a communist society. Komsomol organizations must use all their strength and means to develop it." (46) A third link between the Society and the Party was to develop--or shape--audience tastes for "traditionalism," "folk" attributes, and "culturedness," as opposed to what Society leaders called "petty bourgeois" tastes (meshchanstvo), or foreign "Western influence," to which I return below. These three points perhaps exhausted the consensus between the All-Russian Choral Society and authorities at the central and perhaps RSFSR levels. Fundamental differences were soon to develop.
In response to the state's demand for the representation of a "desire to sing," the All-Russian Choral Society immediately offered to organize "singing columns" (pevcheskie kollony) for 1 May demonstrations in various cities of the RSFSR. As Ptitsa, the chair of the Society's Moscow branch and professor at the Moscow Conservatory said, the column at the 1958 Moscow May demonstration was to include "about 40 independent Moscow city choirs, numbering somewhere over 3,000 singing participants." (47) Yet choir directors did not really have May demonstrations in mind in imagining these "columns." Instead, they seem to have been inspired by an Estonian national tradition of celebrating song in Tallinn. For decades, and almost to the present day, a parade of singers and orchestras gathers in the town center on the Festival Grounds (Tallinna lauluvaljak) with music and song. Estonians borrowed this practice of opening the festivities from 19th-century German choir festivals. Almost as soon as the All-Russian Choral Society was founded, its directors began participating in the Tallinn festivals, bringing along combined choral collectives. (48)
Society activists were attempting to catch up with the principles of ethnonational culture, music, and choral singing as they had emerged in western states of the Soviet bloc. "The Russian Federation finds itself behind such republics as Latvia, Estonia, Belorussia," as one orator at the First Plenum declared. The Russian Federation's position in the rear guard needed to be addressed in the most active possible way, according to the ideologists of the All-Russian Choral Society. (49) They would organize their own summer song holiday for Moscow, in cooperation with Park Kul'tury, at which independent Moscow choirs were invited to sing, together with choir collectives from neighboring towns and oblasts. To Sveshnikov this song festival would be a culminating point of the Society's activities, eventually "growing into a tradition of song holidays--festivals that would unite the best choir collectives of Soviet Russia." (50)
Up to 1956, song festivals had been organized only for children's choirs. (51) By the late 1950s, however, several regions had organized local song festivals. Examples include the capital of the Mari Autonomous Republic, Iushkar-Ole, as well as Voronezh, where festivities centered on the folk choir directed by K. I. Massalitinov. (52) The slogan for the Voronezh celebrations was characteristic: "Fly around the fields, our song, [fly around] the towns, hail the native Mother country [slav ' narodnuiu Otchiznu] and the joy of labor." (53) Given that a Russian choir stood at the center of the festivities, otchizna would seem to refer to Russia, even if in the Soviet context it could refer to either Russia or the USSR.
Moscow's first festival took place in 1960, evidently at the initiative of the All-Russian Choral Society. At the opening on 12 June, Sveshnikov conducted a massive composite choir, consisting of the All-Union Radio Choir, the Republican Russian Choir Capella, and the Moscow Choir in a performance of a contemporary piece--A. Kholminov's "Song of Lenin" (Pesnia o Lenine). The orchestra performed such classics as M. Glinka's "Patriotic Song" (Patrioticheskaia pesnia)--later to become the Russian anthem--and P. I. Chaikovskii's "Triumphant March| (Torzhestvennyi marsh)--written for the coronation of Alexander III. The performance was timed to coincide with concerts at 40 squares across town. Indeed, Ptitsa would conduct a choir even more grandiose than Sveshnikov's, composed of singers from 80 choirs. (54)
Already in the first years of its existence, the All-Russian Choral Society was organizing activities at a fast and furious pace. Sixty regional branches were opened, together with new choirs. "In Arkhangelsk oblast alone, 63 choral collectives were founded [between 1957 and 1959]; in Kysyl', the oblast center of Tuva ASSR, 19 choirs were founded between January and June of 1959." (55) The best choirs went on tour in other regions, and their directors were invited for stays (stazhirovki) in Moscow.
Many concerts were performed under the auspices of the All-Russian Choral Society, in grand halls and in palaces of culture as well as in factory clubs. "A simple list of choir concerts in 1958-59 would take up several pages. There were more than 20,000 in Moscow oblast." A composite choir of 700 performers from collectives in Moscow, Leningrad, Briansk, Kuibyshev, Penza, and Sverdlovsk oblasts performed in the Bolshoi Theater on 17 January 1960 to mark the finale of the First All-Russian Amateur Arts Festival for students at professional-technical schools. (56) From 1 April to 15 July 1959, the All-Russian Choral Society organized a "radio festival of ancient and modern Russian folk songs| at All-Union Radio, in which choir collectives performed along with other performers. (57)
Even so, an all-Russian song festival never came to fruition. It was not for want of organizational capacity. The All-Russian Choral Society's activities were enormous in scale, and it had all the organizational strength needed to bring a social institution of this kind into being. The failure of an all-union festival to emerge must have been more deeply rooted in politics. Most likely, the Soviet leadership of the day shied away from the excessively nationalist and emancipatory force that a Russian song festival might offer. To allow it would have meant sponsoring a regular event in the capital of Soviet Russia--indeed, of the USSR--that was not directly defined by Soviet ideology but only partly underpinned by it. Hundreds of thousands of singers and audience members might have taken part in the festival, perhaps even millions of people, lending weight to its emancipatory potential.
Soviet leaders may not have approved fully of the choral society's ultimate aims, yet they provided an opening that Society leaders skillfully took advantage of. According to David Brandenberger, Stalinist policy in 1931-53 unintentionally aided the formation of a Russian national consciousness. As he shows, it had been clear since the time of the Leningrad Affair that the Soviet leadership would under no circumstances permit the development of any kind of "autonomy" or "self-administration" in the RSFSR. (58) Permitting the decentralization of power was a feature not of the Stalinist period but specifically of the Thaw, and it ended together with the Thaw. In 1956, a special Bureau for the RSFSR was created within the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It was dissolved in 1966 by fiat of the 23rd Party Congress, the first one headed by Brezhnev.
The activities and documents produced by the All-Russian Choral Society furnish clear evidence of the extent to which national consciousness had developed by the 1950s. Against the background of a renewal of a universalist and internationalist rhetoric in the second half of the 1950s, the Society needed to position itself as an organization that supported not only Russian but any and all ethnic choirs on the territory of the RSFSR. Here it met with difficulty, since the style of multivocal a cappella singing its leaders identified as the quintessential and "primordially Russian| cultural form had never developed among other peoples of the RSFSR.
True, there were other national traditions outside the RSFSR and USSR that influenced leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society. These were primarily German. Scholars have already drawn attention to the influence of 19th-century German choral aesthetics on the Russian Choral Society. (59) Yet there were other traditions, which had barely touched Russian choral organizers of the 1880s to 1910s, that began to attract great interest among Soviet scholars of the late 1950s. Most notably, there was the German Singers' League (Deutscher Sangerbund), a mass organization created in 1864. That tradition had been picked up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Baltic states, whose development of singing culture, as noted above, evoked the envy of the All-Russian Choral Society's leaders.
All the while, to Sveshnikov and his fellows, the aesthetic of Russian choral song, drawing on the traditions of the New Trend and of Central European choral nationalism, was not one among many valuable aesthetics but the "true,| normative one. For them, nationalistic and musical conceptions were indissolubly enmeshed. Leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society harbored no ambitions toward political power or ideological hegemony but sought social and cultural influence, using their conception of "Russian" choral music as a constitutive social force.
The Education of a Singing Nation
The image of a "singing column| at the 1 May demonstration, like the idea of singing everywhere and at all times, resembled the practice of mass celebrations in the Stalin era. Yet they did not accord with the All-Russian Choral Society's demand for punctilious preparation and a high level of technical mastery. Choral performance was the endpoint of a lengthy training process, not the spontaneous expression of enthusiasm. Indeed, it was in the course of preparation and performance that the proper mode of enthusiasm manifested itself, not the other way round.
To the leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society, choral performance was the last step in a long process of musical development. At a plenum of the Organizing Committee, and later at the Society's founding meeting, Sveshnikov put forward an ambitious program of mass music education. It began with learning to read musical notation, followed by the principles of solfeggio and harmony, culminating in training to read music in choir session and even impromptu sight-reading performance. Now Sveshnikov could draw on his experiences at the Russian Choral Society, where beginners were taught a numeric system of notation in the first year, followed by linear notation in the second year. Highlighting the role of Karl Al'brekht, who devised the system, Sveshnikov pointed out that his publications had sold in unprecedented numbers; 40,000 copies had been printed and sold immediately, testifying to their success with "choral singers and directors" in the prerevolutionary period. (60) The founder of the new choral movement thus looked back to prerevolutionary practices in spreading musical literacy as a tried and tested means to teach adults music from scratch.
Teaching adults required the cooperation of independent collectives with limited means, together with the creation of courses adults might enroll in during leisure hours. Teaching children was much simpler. It was enough to reform and transform singing lessons at general education schools. Since the 1920s, singing had not been a separate discipline in schools. Singing might take up most time in each lesson, but pupils learned to sing in combination with listening to music and hearing stories about composers and their works. The All-Russian Choral Society's leaders insisted that singing be made its own subject; that only people with a musical education be permitted to teach; and that lessons in secondary schools continue to the eighth, if not the tenth grade. In his speech, for example, A. A. Egorov demanded that the school choir become a mandatory part of school education and that it meet not "outside of school hours but during those lesson hours, along with arithmetic, physics, and so on." (61)
To change music and singing education in schools on such a large scale, it was necessary to train thousands of professional singing teachers. Participants in the plenum and later delegates to the founding session cited discouraging statistics, according to which even in Moscow there were "more than 100 schools ... that have neither singing teachers nor singing lessons nor exercises for choir circles." (62) Similarly, in Novosibirsk, "of 18 teachers who offer lessons in singing during the first grades of primary school, only 1 can read sheet music and accompanies children on the violin." (63) Varied measures were proposed and tested to address these problems, from temporary appointments of music school and conservatory students at general education schools to the establishment of choir directing departments at teacher training institutes (which in fact operated in the 1960s).
These energetic measures to promote mass musical education were based on the All-Russian Choral Society leaders' faith in the power of music, for not simply purposes of education but of spiritual transformation. "The desire to sing arises in a person in moments of inner turmoil [dushevnye volneniia]. This state of mind is entirely unique, joyful, elevated. When a person sings, he is entirely transformed, some unknown forces awaken in him the desire to live, to love, to do good, to be handsome, brave, bold." These words were written in Sveshnikov's 1962 book, Choral Singing--A True Folk Art! (64) The transformation to be effected by singing--the individual's gradual rebirth--would, according to Sveshnikov, inevitably lead that person to the most elevated patriotism. "Singing is a surprising art. It is worthy of being considered one of the greatest. A song ... always turns [... one's] feelings toward the Motherland [rodina], evoking a joyful sense of its beauty and greatness." (65)
Sveshnikov, it is important to note, was not referring specifically here to patriotic or folk songs but to song as such. The transformation of a human being, followed by the transformation of the nation, takes place through a particular culture and practice of performance rather than the influence of the song's content. This is the definitive point of the All-Russian Choral Society's program, one consciously adopted from the Russian Choral Society: the choir and true folk singing materialize not in the instant of performing a composition with appropriate lyrics and music but in the instant when a performance is carried out in the correct manner, irrespective of whether the composition is of Russian art-music or folk origins. Sveshnikov was not the only Society activist to advance such ideas: his colleague Vladislav Sokolov, too, expounded on them in great detail. (66)
The collective subject that was responsible for performing and preserving folk music, as presented by ideologists of the All-Russian Choral Society, was a community of the skilled and the able, which could welcome new members into its ranks only if they acquired the requisite skills and habits, and only if they joined in the shared labor of the community. Unskilled persons who did not participate in its collective exercises could connect with it by only one means--as audience members.
The Model of Gemeinschaft, or Urbanization's Challenges
The word Gemeinschaft, included in the title of this work and drawn from Ferdinand Tonnies's Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Society, 1887) is used here less as an analytic tool than as a fairly precise expression of the type of consciousness manifested by the founders and most active members of the All-Russian Choral Society. (67) The social actors--both of the 19th and in the 20th century--who participated in the formation of nationalist choral associations and created the lyrics and music for choral performance, viewed these associations analogously to Tonnies's interpretation of gemeinschaft--as a natural, organic product of the participants' commonality of views and wills.
The "organic commonality of views," in Sveshnikov's and Sokolovs opinion, did not serve as the foundation of each choir and of choral movements. Rather, as we have already seen, it was the performative culture, shaped consciously and consistently, that gave rise to the desired commonality of opinions and feelings. For this reason, neither the All-Russian Choral Society nor the Russian Choral Society should be called a gemeinschaft in the sense in which Tonnies used the term. These were rather communities of practice, so carefully analyzed by Anglo-American sociologists and sociolinguists. (68) If gemeinschaft was not itself a social structure in the minds of Russian and All-Russian Choral Society activists, however, it was nonetheless a point of ideological orientation. Both the Russian Choral Society activists of the 1880s--191 Os and the founders of the All-Russian Choral Society of the 1950s would have agreed with Tonnies's valuative preference: "Community [Gemeinschaft] means genuine, enduring life together, whereas Society is a transient and superficial thing. Thus gemeinschaft must be understood as a living organism in its own right, while Gesellschaft is a mechanical aggregate and artefact." (69) Choir activists of both the Russian and the All-Russian choral societies used virtually the same terminology to describe what they viewed as an authentic but lost folk art--one that expressed a more fundamental unity using a specific technique of many-voiced a cappella song. Having been lost, the ancient condition needed to be restored through exercise and practice. That is why, in Sveshnikov's works, there were long passages in which explanations of how best to achieve this high performative culture were followed by references to reflections on the beauty of the Russian landscape:
To sing simply means to avoid external ornaments, any kind of gilding. It means to immerse [oneself] into the very essence of the thing, to detect its natural, essential beauty, which does not strike the eye at first glance, but gradually enchants it, deeply and strongly. Our Russian localities with their hilly plains are in no way remarkable at first glance, but as soon as great painters appear--Savrasov, Levitan--looking at their paintings, we are struck by how much beauty, mysterious and unresolved, is hidden in those native landscapes! The same [is true of] song. (70)
Tonnies's conception of gemeinschaft had been formulated in response to the development of urban civilization. He cites Bluntschli's dictionary: "wherever urban culture flourishes, 'Society' also appears as its indispensible medium. Country people know little of it." (71) The same dichotomy of rural/urban (archaic/modern) might also apply to the social tension that called the "choral movement" to life in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. Neither when the Russian Choral Society was founded, nor when the All-Russian Choral Society was founded, did the country face such repression of local culture as in the Baltics or such fragmentation as in Germany. Yet in both periods the organization of mass choral societies did take place amid intensive urbanization: the foundation of the Russian Choral Society followed the emancipation of the serfs, which led to peasant redemption and relocation to the cities; the organization of its successor may be attributed to the cultural consequences of the "Great Break" at the turn of the 1930s and the renewed migration of the rural population to cities after Stalin's death. In both cases, the choral society was conceived of as a bulwark of ancient popular tradition, on the one hand, and of high culture, on the other, both threatened by the "plebeian" tastes of the numerous groups that had broken with the traditions of town and country.
It would appear that the creation of the model of gemeinschaft within society was itself one of the most important psychological compensatory functions of mass choral movements arising in countries that had arrived at modernization relatively late. In Russia, the "modeling" function of a performative gemeinschaft was clearly expressed in programmatic documents of the Russian Choral Society and more particularly of the All-Russian Choral Society. The speeches of their leaders clearly show how the creation of an imagined community was advanced as a remedy against the proliferation of mass culture. A cappella choral song was promoted in opposition to singing by estrada and dramatic actors and to specialized estrada choirs, staged with musical accompaniment and offering what was essentially an entertainment repertoire. Chizhov pointed directly to the major cultural foes of academic a cappella singing in his review of the 25-year anniversary of the Russian Choral Society in 1903: "We are told that choral singing has long been popular. True, but what kind of singing? The popular song of so-called Russian and Gypsy choirs. Their rollicking song pleases many, and audiences often add their own voices to the mix to heighten the fun. The general audience views the choir as an accessible amusement, sees it as a source of jollity, not requiring any special preparation, in a setting to match, as an afterthought to the general mood of joy or sorrow that takes hold of them." (72)
Similar rhetoric can be found in the speeches given in the late 1950s when the All-Russian Choral Society was organized and first met. The only difference lay in the Society's willingness to defend the development of "high folk culture" with the aid of the party leadership, since its own small group was unlikely to achieve any signal success. As V. M. Uralova noted in her speech:
Curious. When will the Ministry of Culture break its embarrassed silence about our estrada situation? They have not been debunked, those false singers [Izhepevtsy], carriers of khaltura [nositeli khaltury], and nobody seems to notice that they need to be debunked. [From the audience: And carriers of meshcbanstvo (vulgarity)] And of vulgarity--thank you.... I sometimes meet a young man who says: "Bernes sings, Sul'zhenko sings--that's singing! But what your Piatnitskii Choir sings, no one has a clue." We are like Don Quixotes, battling windmills. (73)
Provincial choir directors hardly viewed the situation of rural choral song as more promising than in urban areas. A total break had taken place, and tradition had become incompatible with the new rural ways. One of the plenum participants observed that in the villages of Voronezh, for example, there had been childrens' choir collectives prior to the war. "From childhood on, children became acquainted with folk songs.... In round dances, they learned to sing a cappella, in their families, with their grandmothers. Now, they do not even let the old folk women sing in schools." This was a shame, because "children always imitate adults." The speaker added that it was not just in everyday life that song had disappeared, however, but even at celebrations such as weddings, where records had replaced song. (74)
On the whole, leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society regarded the negative effects of urbanization as a result of harmful Western currents. The cultural politics of the Thaw, although more open than in Stalinist times, also provoked defensive reactions. The rhetoric of selfless feats, however, was now laid aside in favor of the vocabulary of enlightenment, such as "educating the masses." Such enlightenment, the Society's leaders believed, would allow choirs to be transformed into so many model communities, standing up to the influence of urbanization and Westernization. Sveshnikov's founding speech at the first plenum of the Society's Organizing Committee was once again explicit. "Right now, the enthusiasm of our youth and the middle generation for the gray, unprincipled, and often tawdry music of the type produced by the notorious "music industry" ... results from the lack of artistic ... education, from an inability to critically judge whatever seeps through to us from the capitalist world. We need to help such people judge, developing and educating them musically." (75)
From the viewpoint of the Society's ideologists, sharing in an amateur performance of estrada songs (khaltura) formed morally and aesthetically defective communities. Many of the speakers at the plenum addressed this point. It was necessary to oppose this spreading practice by means of the professionalized, trained singing of "real" choirs. They, and only they, could create working model communities.
Overall, the All-Russian Choral Society's initial program coheres with the version of Russian nationalism that Yitzhak Brudny calls "conservative." (76) Brudny identified the aesthetic expression of conservative nationalism in the prose of the so-called Village Prose writers--specifically, those who looked back to the prerevolutionary village with its basis in the commune (obshchina) as the ideal organization of social life. Yet conservative nationalists occupied a position in literature that was consistently antimodernist and sometimes latently xenophobic. They condemned modernization from a moral viewpoint: they believed it had brought destruction to the village commune as a gemeinschaft, opening it to excessive outside influences. All the while, Village Prose writers enjoyed the support of Westernizing intellectuals who saw their work as a condemnation of Stalin's forcible modernization.
Ideologists of the All-Russian Choral Society were not xenophobes. They attributed great importance to classical Western compositions. Their attitude toward modernization, however, was more complex. Essentially, they aimed to use the mechanisms of modernization--the development of social infrastructure, the media, collective exercises in song and musical "enlightenment"--to achieve antimodernist goals: specifically, the creation of a performative model of gemeinschaft as a psychological barrier to contemporary mass culture. Their program differed from conservative nationalism, as Brudny described it, in that All-Russian Choral Society leaders had inherited the imperial, modernist nationalism characteristic of the New Trend. Their nationalism was not of the "Village" but distinctly urban. They aimed to restore to villagers the "correct" aesthetic of song--partly an invented tradition, partly based on ethnographic research.
The idea that intellectuals must restore to the people its own aesthetic values had been an essential feature of 19th-century East European nationalist movements, but it can also be identified in Sveshnikov's speech at the Society's first plenum: "Special attention must be paid to the development of singing without instrumental accompaniment among Russian folk choirs. This primordially Russian tradition of multivoiced folk choir-type performance must be developed on a large scale." (77)
The felt need to guard against dangerous "contemporary" influences explains why Society leaders concentrated their efforts not only on people who already belonged to the ranks of choir collectives but also on the musically uneducated. It explains the Society's expansionist policies with regard to secondary schools and its leaders' harsh insistence that boys continue to learn singing even as their voices broke. Representatives of the Organizational Committee and delegates at the founding session all warned that work with boys as their voices changed could damage or destroy the voice, bad from both a medical and a musical perspective. Their opponents claimed to be saving youths from harmful influences and maintaining paternalist control over them. As L. Kudriavtseva of the Leningrad Capella Choir remarked, "At this age, the mature citizen is formed, and it seems to us that excluding him from choral song would be a mistake.... Removing song as a basic factor in the education of our youth in this period, when they become enamored with so-called 'fashionable' music, seems wrong to us." (78)
Keeping adolescents within the fold of the community was, therefore, a reason to make them sing even as their voices changed. While Kudriavtseva used the term "citizen," her impulse to control adolescents' tastes and use singing as a "basic factor in education" shows that by citizenship, she meant membership in a performatively imagined gemeinschaft. This was exactly the dominant view in most children's choir collectives, starting with the highly influential Moscow Choral School.
The notion of gemeinschaft embodied itself even more manifestly in the music and lyrics performed at great and small auditoria by the full range of choirs--academic and folk, professional and amateur, children's and adult. Choir directors met the need quickly to expand the choral repertoire in the only way they could--by arranging existing works. These included instrumental and vocal compositions by classical Western and prerevolutionary Russian composers as well as folk songs, which sometimes required the lyrics of vocal compositions to be altered to fit Soviet ideological and censorship requirements.
Creating their own Russian texts and choral arrangements, Sveshnikov and Sokolov made conscious use of the plural pronoun "we" in place of the singular "I." They added new lyrics to choral works in the spirit of the Thaw, as can be seen in Sveshnikov's reworking of "The Students' Song" (Studencheskaia pesnia), a piece that probably dates back to the 1860s. Sveshnikov's additions are italicized below:
Our life is short, It carries all off with it Our youth, friends, Rushes by like an arrow. Refrain Let us then spend, friends This night more cheerfully, And may our family Gather more closely.... Let us drink the first glass For the free people, And the second glass-- To our slogan "Forward." Refrain And our last glass We shall raise To beloved Rus', Our motherland (79)
Tonnies considered family ties the social basis and model for gemeinschaft. (80) This song originally referred only to the Students Union as a "family." Sveshnikov, by contrast, ties the family as a model of local community to such images as the "free people" and "beloved Rus' / Our motherland." The latter phrase had been a crucial idiom in the official patriotic rhetoric of World War II. Calling Russia "Rus'" points to the eternal, extratemporal character of the country as a community. It was in this sense that "Rus'" was used in the lyrics of the new Soviet anthem written by Sergei Mikhalkov and Garol'd El'-Registan and set to music by Aleksandr Aleksandrov in 1943: "Unbreakable union of free Republics / Great Rus' has welded together forever to stand." Yet Sveshnikov radically altered the modality in which these propagandistic images are perceived. The "we" here is not the whole country but a welded local community (gemeinschaft). The attachment of this "we" to the "free people" and to "our motherland" was not only a feeling of "common" patriotism but also one of private, familial love. By invoking officially sanctioned propagandistic images, Sveshnikov was able to create a narrative of emotional solidarity that offered an alternative to the state narrative based on a nationwide "we."
In addition to folk songs arranged into multivoiced compositions that were labeled as authentically popular, the invented tradition included prerevolutionary Russian choral compositions that reentered the performance repertoire. In many cases, these works reappeared before the public in substantially altered form. Thus the first chorus in Rakhmaninov's "Six Choruses for Womens (and Childrens) Voices" was originally titled "Be Praised!" (Slav'sia!) and represented a celebratory eulogy addressed to Tsar Liberator Alexander II, using a fragment of N. A. Nekrasov's poem, "Who Lives Well in Russia." (81) Evidently, it was impossible to invoke the emancipation of the people, so relevant prior to 1917, in the Soviet context. Though Rakhmaninov's music was left intact, Nekrasov's text was subjected to radical alterations, transformed into a eulogy to the people by the people, or rather, by its singing avant-garde.
Slav'sia (Nekrasov) Slav'sia, narodu davshii svobodu! Doha naroda, schast'e ego Svet i svoboda--prezhde vsego! Slav'sia, narodu davshii svobodu! Blagoslovi, Gospodi pravyi, Schast'em i slavoi delo liubvi. My zhe nemnogo prosim u Boga Chestnoe delo delat' umelo sily nam dai! Be Praised! Praised be the liberator of the people! The lot of the people is his happiness. Light and freedom above all! Praised be the liberator of the people! Bless, Just Lord, The cause of love with happiness and glory. But we ask little of God. Give us the strength bravely to pursue an honorable cause! Slava narodu (1963) Slava narodu nashemu, slava! Dolia naroda, schast'e ego, Mir i svoboda--prezhde vsego! Slava narodu nashemu, slava! V boiakh s vragami mir i svobodu Nam otstoiali nashi ottsy. My vse s liubov 'iu druzhnoi sem 'eiu, Mir ukrepliaia, delo svobody dvinem vpered. Praise to the People Praise be to our people, praise! The lot of the people is its happiness, Peace and freedom above all! Praise be to our people, praise! Our fathers defended our peace and freedom in struggles with enemies. All of us, loving as a close-knitfamily, will move the cause of freedom forward to buttress peace.
Soviet propagandistic cliches have been inserted into Nekrasov's text. It was common in the official rhetoric of the late 1950s and early 1960s to assert that the "fathers" had "stood up [otstoiali] for peace and freedom" during World War II and that the next generation's duty was to uphold their cause. A collection of articles and speeches by Khrushchev, published in 1963, for example, was titled Avert War, Stand up for Peace! In the Soviet arrangement of Nekrasov's poem, the pertinent line is "to buttress peace," as well as the construction "cause of freedom," which is a caique from the propagandistic slogan the "cause of peace" (delo mira). Yet the meaning of the cliche again changes due to the appearance of images of family and family unity. Soviet propaganda documents never announced that the "cause of freedom" should be realized in a "close-knit family" or by "loving"--that is rather the rhetoric of gemeinschaft, invoked by the Soviet arranger of Rakhmaninov's chorus. (82)
It is important that the choir movement presented itself in precisely this way to nonparticipants and the uninitiated: using all available media, it constantly translated the idea of gemeinschaft into a guarantee of unbroken tradition and intergenerational continuity. The many concerts transmitted on radio and television, in lecture concerts and festivals, or as holiday songs, new records, and sheet music--all these fruits of the All-Russian Choral Society's labor literally filled the public airwaves. The fact that public technologies of modern origin stood behind these superficially convincing visual, verbal, and aural presentations of gemeinschaft may have been apparent only to their inventors, although they were probably afraid to admit this even to themselves.
Images of Gemeinschaft in the Media during the Thaw
One characteristic of Thaw culture is frequently mentioned by scholars, working across a range of topics and using a great diversity of sources: the demand that the Soviet subject reassess his or her identification with communities large and small or in opposition to such communities. (83) Even membership in a general body such as the "Soviet people" needed rethinking, to be placed on new foundations. (84) In the cinema and film of the Soviet Thaw, redrawn lines of demarcation between "ours" and "theirs" became a dominant theme.
The idea of a popular choral gemeinschaft, formulated by leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society and endorsed by the choir directors and composers associated with the Society, did gain public attention in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Indeed, one the most famous works of Soviet art in the Thaw era, Marlen Khutsiev's Il'ich's Gate (Zastava Il'icha, 1962) made it the object of a polemic that was covert but harsh. The film is packed with musical allusions and references to true and false manifestations of collective solidarity, from young solders marching in lockstep to 1 May singing columns. As is well known, Nikita Khrushchev deeply disliked it, and it underwent extensive cuts by the censors. It was reedited in 1965 and released under a different title, I Am Twenty (Mne dvadsat' let). At the end of the 1980s, the original was restored, featuring two long scenes that are heavy with meaning. In both scenes, background choral singing plays an important role. Without knowing the history of the All-Russian Choral Society, these scenes remain incomprehensible to the contemporary viewer.
In both scenes, a young man named Sergei Zhuravlev must make an ethical choice in regard to "others" and "ours." Both scenes take place in the apartment of his beloved Ania. The first begins as a conversation between the young couple, then shifts to Sergei and Ania's father; it is long and exhausting, although essential in conveying their worldviews. The background to the conversation is rather irritating to the viewer: in the center of an empty room pasted with newspapers--it is being refurbished--stands a stool, and on it stands a black-and-white television that is switched on and transmits a concert. This is a recording of Soviet children's choirs performing in the Great Hall of the Conservatory. The conversation fills almost 30 minutes to the steady accompaniment of the concert pieces. Ania leaves him for a moment as Sergei enters the apartment, but even before he glimpses Ania's father in the room that is being refinished, he hears music. Children are performing Franz Schubert's "Moment musical," arranged for children's choir by Vladislav Sokolov, set to lyrics written by the choirmaster. The text celebrates an image of pure childhood, marked by enjoyment of the beauty of awakening spring, and simultaneously emphasizes the collective nature of this childhood, using the first-person plural.
Only in a spring sky Does the sun shine Let us hurry into the woods There jollity awaits us.
How nice the woods are in spring, There the cool breeze of the woods breathes. (85)
In the background to this music and these words, Ania tells her father that she will soon leave home. "Moment musical" ends, and as a conversation key to the film's conception unfolds among the protagonists, the choir performs a few more pieces.
Father: Every protest must draw on concrete sources. But I do not see that you have any. I see two inexperienced young people, who regard me as if I were some kind of class enemy, forgetting that this so-called enemy has done something for the people. And that includes you, among others.
Ania: Papa, what is the people [narod]?
Father: For you, that is a concept, but for me, it is a personal fate. Life. "The people"--is those who--unlike you--work, while you spend your time figuring out what is good and what is bad.
Sergei: I work too, but I do not boast of doing so in the name of the people.
Father: That is demagoguery. I do not boast but clearly define my place in society. It is wrong, of course, to throw words around. But this is, in a small way, how what they call ideological revision begins.
Ania's responses to her beloved fathers criticisms are either sarcastic or evasive. She jokes that her father will soon accuse her of supporting the enemy.
Father: You jest in vain. I barely understand your humor. What has gotten into your head? What do you want?
Ania: Yes, the cult of personality is over; they show us foreign films; they often sell foreign clothes; they assented to light music and made it legal. Titov 17 has flown around the Earth; there's a Christmas tree in the Kremlin--what more could we want?
Father: What, doesn't it please you?
Ania: It pleases me; you don't need to catch me out. I just do not want to say thank you to you every day for the fact that I am alive, that I get up in the morning and have nothing to fear.
Father: Does that mean, I don't please you?
Ania: It means, you ...
Father: Why don't I please you?
Ania: Because I do not believe you. Because as long as you have lived, you have always said one thing and thought and done another.
While the protagonists fruitlessly seek a common language, the children's choir sings at least three more songs: a choral arrangement of Rakhmaninov's "Italian Polka" and two Soviet compositions for choir. In one of the dialogue's critical moments, a round-faced boy appears on the stage of the Conservatory's Grand Hall. He performs Evgenii Rodygin's "Ural Rowan Tree" (Ural'skaia riabinushka, 1954) on the accordion, a typical socialist-realist composition stylized to resemble a Russian folk song, which shows Soviet society as the realization of an idyll where no serious conflict can take place. (86)
In a second scene in the same apartment, now repaired, Sergei Zhuravlev must make a difficult ethical choice. Ania is celebrating her birthday, yet the guests and hostess are bored, not knowing what to do. They chat superficially, drink, eat, and dance, first to French and then to American estrada music, followed by baroque music performed on an authentic harpsichord, which they try dancing to "according to the rules" of a sarabande. In the meantime, one of the guests produces a pot of roast potatoes, some of which the guests devour with pleasure, some of which are thrown on the ground, trampled upon by the dancers to the tune of a boogie-woogie. Heightening the irony, Ania now slips on a pair of bast shoes (lapti). Finally, the exhausted guests place a record with "ancient ritual music" on the gramophone. This is "The Ducks Fly" (Letiat utki) as arranged by Massalitinov and probably performed by the Voronezh State Folk Choir, which Massalitinov directed (both the choir and Massalitinov became some of the All-Russian Choral Society's most active participants in 1957). It is to this song, against the background of bast sandals and strewn potatoes, that Sergei's fateful conversation with one of the guests takes place. In this atmosphere of frivolity, Sergei lists the things that he takes seriously: the revolution, "The International," the year 1937 (Stalin's purges), the war. In response to an offensive question by the same guest, he leaves his beloved's apartment--forever, it seems. In this highly saturated symbolic setting, the folk choir's singing stands out as a sign of stylized populism, made for show, inauthentic.
Today, half a century after Khutsiev's Il 'ich's Gate premiered, few attentive viewers will notice the musical background, still less the connection between the recordings of the children's and folk choirs. Even fewer will know that both of the recordings described above are testimonies to the existence of a single cultural project, advanced in the second half of the 1950s by Soviet choral directors. This project in its various reincarnations--by children, adults, folk singers--was so powerful and influential that Khutsiev and his coauthor Gennadii Shpalikov were forced to address it as they described the hero's complex quest for a worldview and a social identity. As a result, the protagonist could not but confront, first, the aesthetic representation of ideas of a "thankful and happy youth," then the folk collective's "lyric 'I.'" Equally important is the fact that in both cases, the discussion did not center solely on musical and verbal images of childhood and the people but included models of organizing the social entity that these images stood for.
In each of these key scenes from Il'ich's Gate, the protagonist is presented with two, seemingly natural images of gemeinschaft that appear to be taken as given. In the first, children sing of the good and unproblematic nature of life, a perspective that is reinforced by Ania's beloved, moralizing father. The second, "Ducks Fly," features mature women, who tell in a stylized folksy song of unhappy love and separation, a song that prefigures the impending separation of Sergei and Ania. Significantly, each of these two representations of gemeinschaft has its own group of supporters among the film's protagonists. The narrative and image of the children's choir, as just noted, fully accords in its meaning and modality with the position of Ania's father. By contrast, the Voronezh Choir matches the youths' "false," "artificial" (according to Khutsiev and Shpalikov's value system) orientation toward playful self-stylization.
Khutsiev's film, however, also offers two other, positive images of gemeinschaft that accord entirely with Sergei's attitude to life and his philosophy of history. The first is represented in a scene intentionally placed after the episode highlighting the children's choir: an evening at the Polytechnic Museum, featuring well-known Thaw-era poets, including Bulat Okudzhava. He sings "Sentimental March" (1957), and the whole audience, in a single voice, repeats the lyrics: "I will inevitably fall in that single, Civil War, / and commissars in dusty helmets will bend silently over me." (87) The quality of the community constructed in this song by Okudzhava and in his other early works has been analyzed in detail by Rossen Djagalov. The community is defined as oppositional, challenging any paternalistic construction of "imagined communities." "It was neither 'we, Russians,' nor 'we, Germans,' nor even 'we, the oppositional intelligentsia.' No, 'we' referred to a far broader, nondiscriminatory identity-in-the-process-of-becoming, intuitively recognizable to the auditorium, and one it was ready to join." (88)
The second positive image of a singing gemeinschaft appears three times but never in a collective choral performance--"The International." It plays once, muted, in the film's opening scene, accompanying the nightly patrol of Red Guard heroes through town; it is referred to once in Sergei's list of the things that matter to him most, along with the revolution and 1937; and, again muted, at the film's closing. It is important to note that both of these images, as well as their opposites, assume generational continuity and unbroken tradition, not stylized as imperial or Stalinist but rather, from Khutsiev and Shpalikov's perspective, authentically revolutionary, carried forward even through World War II. Members of Khutsiev's generation well remembered that "The International" had been the anthem of the USSR until 1943, when it was replaced with the anthem by Aleksandrov, Mikhalkov, and El'-Registan, coinciding with the shift toward Russian nationalism in official ideology.
The images of gemeinschaft created in Khutsiev's film and Okudzhava's songs were universalistic, progressivist, and--in the context of the early 1960s--oppositional. The images of gemeinschaft created by the leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society combined conservatism, modernism, and the cult of invented traditions (as "aboriginal") with attempts at enlightenment. They were not oppositional, yet they opposed the mainstream in a different way from Khutsiev and Okudzhava. Nationalist elements in the All-Russian Choral Society's program were not articulated explicitly. Nevertheless, they become evident when one analyzes the context in which the Society's activities unfolded and the texts of choral adaptations prepared by Society leaders.
Evidently, Khutsiev's conceptual system of cultural value proved vigorous and successful. In the half a century that has passed since the creation of Il'ich's Gate, the choral movements of the RSFSR have fallen from cultural memory, even as everything related to the cultural and musical codes of the oppositional intelligentsia are still known and can be decoded.
The Contemporary Continuation: Choral Leviathans of the 2010s
One of the most remarkable events in Russia between 2012 and 2015 was the sharp growth of anti-Western and antimodernist tendencies in state propaganda. In 2013, President Vladimir Putin pronounced his intention to promote conservatism in defense of "traditional values" as the principal aim of contemporary Russian politics. (89) The new ideology enjoyed a high degree of support from cultural and political elites. I posit that several constitutive parts of this ideology can be traced genetically to the All-Russian Choral Society.
The All-Russian Choral Society ceased to exist in 1987, when it was folded into the All-Russian Musical Society. During a hiatus of 25 years, its activities became a thing of the past. In 2013, the Mariinskii Theater's main conductor, Valerii Gergiev, brought it back to life with Putin's support. (90) The main achievement of the revived All-Russian Choral Society was the Children's Choir of Russia (Detskii khor Rossii). It is a composite choir made up of choirs from the federal districts (okrugi), as well as composite choirs from Moscow and St. Petersburg. These composite choirs, too, are synthetic formations, created choral representatives working for one or another territorial unit of the Federation. On average, the Children's Choir of Russia numbers around 1,500 people. At present, the Choir has performed four times, and all four dates, as well as the concert venues at which they appeared, are of clear symbolic importance. On 8 January 2014, the Choir performed at the Mariinskii Theater, and soon thereafter sang at the finale of the Olympics in Sochi. In June 2014, it sang at concerts dedicated to Russia Day in Crimea and, on 9 May 2015, at a concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Fatherland War at the Bolshoi Theater. (91)
Choral activists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries dreamed of song festivals in which a civic nation might gradually take shape. The Children's Choir of Russia, by contrast, is unambiguously represented as the image of the state, not the nation. To judge by the concert program and recordings of the Mariinskii Theater concert, the state ranks Russia's national and multinational features second, after Soviet imperial features: 90 percent of the concert program consists of songs by Soviet composers. (92) These include official hits of the Era of Stagnation, such as "Childhood--That Is You and Me" (Detstvo--eto ia i ty) by Iurii Chichkov, set to verses by Mikhail Pliatskovskii (1980). (93) This piece was unflinchingly performed alongside celebratory works of the Stalin era, such as Sergei Prokof'ev's 1947 cantatas to the lyrics of Aleksei Mashistov: "Be Praised, Our Mighty Land!" (Slav'sia, nash moguchii krai!). The concert ended with a performance of Russia's current anthem, although following Prokofiev's cantata with the 1943 Anthem of the USSR would have been more consistent.
The longevity of children's choral studios, which leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society set up from the 1960s to 1980s, made this project possible. (94) The mechanisms of cultural translation can yield surprising results: the nostalgia for a lost prerevolutionary choral culture, which motivated choral activists of the Thaw era, was transformed in the 2010s into a ressentiment that echoed Stalinist propaganda. The Russian choral movement has returned to the starting point from which it was formulated in 1953, prior to the formation of the All-Russian Choral Society--to the anticosmopolitan campaign of the late 1940s and to the idea of Russian imperial expansion that was central to it. Admittedly, there is no longer talk of the autonomy of the choir and the "choral nation," since the contemporary All-Russian Choral Society has become a full-fledged part of an almost boundless state Leviathan.
Today, it is state organs, not the Society, that have made the proliferation of "choral nationalism" their mission. On 16 March 2012, then Prime Minister Putin signed a decree "On the Day of the Celebration of Slavic Writing and Culture"--a new state holiday, tied to the Orthodox Church's holy day of SS Cyril and Methodius. Mass choral concerts in Moscow and major cities across Russia have become the central celebratory events. Although the holiday would by tradition be a holy day, the concert repertoire consists largely of Soviet songs--primarily the hits of the 1970s, graced by the ideology of "soft" nationalism, as in Leonid Afanas'ev's "I Look into the Blue of the Lake" (Gliazhu v ozera sinie, 1971) to lyrics by Igor' Shaferan. In 2014, the concert program was filled entirely with songs by the Soviet pop composer Aleksandra Pakhmutova. (95) Choral festivals were held simultaneously in all capital cities of the Russian Federation and in Crimea on 24 May 2014, and Putin duly congratulated participants on television and radio. (96) "Parade" singing by professional and mediatized choirs, not amateur ones, became vital to creating the new "imagined community" of Russia in the 2010s.
Historians of Russian nationalism primarily pay attention to ideological narratives. The leaders of the All-Russian Choral Society created a special type of nationalist ideology that escapes analysis by traditional methods. It was founded to promote a new type of emotional solidarity, formulated with the help of choral singing, rather than on explicit narratives. The Society's intentions accorded with the Soviet elite's more general political conceptions in the late 1950s and early 1960s, based on the rejection of mass repression and the transition toward a new stage in the emotional mobilization of society. However, the Society's program was narrowly connected with the practice of professional musical performance and thus could not be acknowledged by either the Soviet political elite or unofficial nationalist circles.
Almost 25 years after the All-Russian Choral Society disappeared, and long after its founders died, its vision of "choral nationalism" came to be seen as useful. The current political regime may call its ideology "conservatism," but it weaves together an eclectic narrative based on various eras of Russian history and differing political currents. All these narratives have a common goal: society's emotional mobilization to resemble a gemeinschaft and the stigmatization of outsiders. Television is the main mobilizing instrument. (97) In this context, Russian officials have come to view professional choirs shown on television screens as an ideal form of political community. It is not merely their appearance on screen but producers' capacity to sew time and space together that is so appealing: television shows how in Russia's largest cities people perform mixed compositions by Soviet composers, Orthodox liturgical chants, and classical works of 19th-century Russian musical nationalism. (98)
By using the media to display these choirs, the state portrays Russia as a single temporal and spatial unity and includes viewers in that unity. Distinct historical eras become stages on a single teleological path; all regions become harmonious elements in a common national space. The principles of a civil society and heterogeneous social structures--that which Tonnies called Gesellschaft--turn out to be excluded from the media sphere in today's Russia. Contemporary Russian political propaganda works to achieve this aim. A crucial aesthetic means of constructing the ideal community in this propaganda, however, is a special representation of choral singing, which can be traced back to the All-Russian Choral Society.
Translated by Victoria Frede
School of Advanced Research in the Humanities
Russian Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration
Vernadskii prospekt, 82
119571 Moscow, Russian Federation
This article was written as a part of the research project "Strategies of Institution Building in the Post-Stalinist USSR (1953-1985)," sponsored by the School of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (ShAGI) of the Russian Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow. I would also like to thank Marina Raku and Susanna Lockwood Smith for their valuable feedback.
(1) Mikhail Agurskii, Ideologiia natsional-bol'shevizma (Paris: YMCA Press, 1980; reissued many times); Andreas Umland, "Vladimir Zhirinovskii in Russian Politics: Three Approaches to the Emergence of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia 1990-1993" (DrPhil in History, Free University of Berlin, 1997); Yitzhak M. Brudny, Reinventing Russia: Russian Nationalism and the Soviet State, 1953-1991 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998); David Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity, 1931-1956 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); N. A. Mitrokhin, Russkaia partiia: Dvizhenie russkikh natsionalistov v SSSR 1953-1985 (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2003); M. Laruel' [Marlene Laruelle], ed., Sovremennye interpretatsii russkogo natsionalizma (Stuttgart: ibidem, 2007); Laruel', ed., Russkii natsionalizm: Sotsial'nyi i kul'turyni kontekst (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2008); Laruelle, In the Name of the Nation: Nationalism and Politics in Contemporary Russia (New York.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Laruelle, ed., Russian Nationalism and the National Reassertion of Russia (New York: Routledge, 2009); and V. A. Shnirel'man, Khazarskii mif Ideologiiapoliticheskogo radikalizma v Rossii i ee istoki (Moscow and Jerusalem: Mosty kul'tury and Gesharim, 2012).
(2) Shnirel'man, for example, investigates the prerevolutionary sources of some antisemitic myths that remained influential in the Soviet and post-Soviet period, but he does not move beyond the myths to study new types of social organization and psychological solidarity.
(3) Susannah Lockwood Smith, "From Peasants to Professionals: The Socialist-Realist Transformation of a Russian Folk Choir," Kritika 3, 3 (2002): 393-425; L. J. Olson, Performing Russia: Folk Revival and Russian Identity (London: Routledge Curzon, 2004); Marina FrolovaWalker, Russian Music and Nationalism from Glinka to Stalin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).
(4) Olson discusses an analogically similar program that did not develop as widely in Performing Russia.
(5) See "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta Vserossiiskogo khorovogo obshchestva," 7-8 April 1958, Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF) f. 646, op. 1, d. 15; and "Stenogramma 1 uchreditel'nogo s'ezda Vserossiiskogo khorovogo obshchestva: Moscow, 30 June-2 July 1959," t. 1, GARF f. 646, op. 1, d. 92. These documents are also cited in the only historical study of the Society undertaken in the 2010s: Elena Shchapova, "Vserossiiskoe khorovoe obshchestvo v istorii otechestvennoi muzykal'noi kul'tury vtoroi poloviny 20 stoletiia" (Cand. diss. in the Arts, Rostov-on-Don, 2013).
(6) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 1. 27.
(7) A. V. Sveshnikov, "Za vysokuiu kul'turu khorovogo peniia," Sovetskaia kul'tura, 29 August 1953, 2.
(8) Andrei Artizov and Oleg Naumov, eds., Vlast'i khudozhestvennaia intelligentsiia: Dokumenty TsK RKP(b)--VKP(b), VChK--OGPU--NKVD o kul'turnoi politike, 1917-1953 gg. (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyi fond "Demokratiia," 1999), 630-31.
(9) For more on this aggressive discourse, see Evgenii Dobrenko, "'Realasthetik,' ili Narod v bukval'nom smysle (oratoriia v piati chastiakh's prologom i epilogom)," Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 82 (2006): 183-242; and Kiril Tomoff, Creative Union: The Professional Organization of Soviet Composers, 1939-1953 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006), 122-214. A sample of such rhetoric from 1948 can be found in a speech by the head of the Russkii narodnyi khor im. Piatnitskogo, V. Zakharov, who was also secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers, in Soveshchanie deiatelei sovetskoi muzyki v TsVKP(b) (Moscow: Pravda, 1948), 24.
(10) On the modern concept of training, see Peter Sloterdijk, "Du mufit Dein Leben andern": Uber Antbropotechnik (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2009), 37-190. On choral tranining as an institution of modern society, see Lockwood Smith, From Peasants to Professionals.
(11) Notably, not all Soviet compositions were suitable, only those that carried forward the aesthetics of Socialist Realism or a moderate, "filtered" modernism.
(12) On these, see Lockwood Smith, From Peasants to Professionals; and Olson, Performing Russia.
(13) A. V. Sveshnikov, "Sozdat' edinyi vokal'nyi metod," Sovetskaia muzyka, no. 5 (1953): 98-99; Sveshnikov, "Za vysokuiu kul'turu khorovogo peniia," Sovetskaia kul'tura, 29 August 1953, 2.
(14) Examples include A. V. Sveshnikov, V. G. Sokolov, K. B. Ptitsa, A. B. Khazanov, N. I. Dem'ianov, K. M. Lebedev, A. S. Stepanov, S. V. Popov, and V. S. Loktev (all from Moscow); G. P. Rogozhnikova (from Sverdlovsk); M. P. Fomenkov (from Ufa); N. A. Sidushkin (from Ioshkar-Ola); A. A. Egorov, V. G. Shipulin, and E. P. Kudravtseva (from Leningrad); M. V. Tel'tevskaia (from Saratov); A. V. Katorgin (from Ulianovsk); and S. A. Kazachkov (from Kazan).
(15) See Amy Nelson, Music for the Revolution: Musicians and Power in Early Soviet Russia (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004), 166.
(16) S. Zvereva, A. Naumov, and M. Rakhmanova, "Vstupitel'naia stat'ia," in Sinodal 'nyi khor i uchilishche tserkovnogopeniia, 2 vols. (Moscow: Iazyki russkoi kul'tury, 1998-2002), 1:20-22. On the NewTrend, see Frolova-Walker, Russian Music and Nationalism, 285-300. The author's interpretation of Kastalskii's role in the development of Russian modernist "nationalizing" music differs from the one provided here (236-41).
(17) A. V. Nikol'skii, "S. V. Smolenskii i ego rol' v novom napravlenii russkoi tserkovnoi muzyki," in Sinodal'nyi khor i uchilishche tserkovnogo peniia, 1:156-58. See also Frolova-Walker, Russian Music and Nationalism,. 280-83.
(18) See I. Shevelenko, "Imperiia i natsiia v voobrazhenii russkogo modernizma," Ab Imperio, no. 3 (2009): 171-209.
(19) On Lisitsyn, see E. A. Artemova, "Prot[oerei] M. A. Lisitsyn--ideolog Novogo napravleniia dukhovnoi muzyki," Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta (Moskva), Seriia V: Voprosy istorii i teorii khristianskogo iskusstva, no. 1 (13) (2014): 136-48.
(20) Originally published in 1909, M. A. Lisitsyns O novom napravlenii v russkoi tserkovnoi muzyke was republished in Sinodal'nyi khor i uchilishche tserkovnogo peniia, 2:523, 526.
(21) See Zvereva, Naumova, and Rakhmanova, "Vstupitel'naia stat'ia," 15-20.
(22) See, e.g., Pamiati N. M. Danilina: Pis'ma. Vospominaniia. Dokumenty (Moscow: Sovetskii kompozitor, 1987), 226.
(23) The following image, used in die memoirs of one of Danilins students, is telling: "Many listeners associated Danilin with a sculptor who could mold sounds into images that were almost tangible" (ibid., 216).
(24) B. V. Asaf'ev, O khorovom iskusstve, ed. A B. Pavlova-Arbenina (Leningrad: Sovetskii kompozitor, 1980), 184.
(25) O. A. Glybkova, "Prikosnovenie k nachalam: 'la pomniu, kak budto eto bylo vchera ...,'" in Vladislav Sokolov: Zhizn' v khorovom iskusstve (Moscow and Rybinsk: Moskovskaia konservatoriia im. Chaikovskogo and Rybinskii dom pechati, 2011), 12-13.
(26) [V. G. Sokolov?], "Vospomnim o dukhovnosti," Muzykal 'noe obozrenie 42, 9 (1991).
(27) M. Raku, "Sotsial'noe konstruirovanie 'sovetskogo muzykovedeniia' i kontsept 'kul'turnosti," forthcoming in Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 138 (2016).
(28) Several musicological studies dedicated to the prerevolutionary period have shed light on the Russian Choral Society. See, e.g., D. L. Lokshin, Vydaiushchiesia russkie khory i ikh dirizhery (Moscow: Muzgiz, 1953). The founders of the All-Russian Choral Society would, of course, have drawn on books published before 1917.
(29) See A. Chizhov, ed., Obzor pervogo desiatiletiia sushchestvovaniia Russkogo khorovogo obshchestva vMoskve (1878-1888) (Moscow: V. V. Chicherin, 1890), 10-12.
(30) Ibid., 24.
(31) K. K. Al'brekht, Rukovodstvo k khorovomupeniiupo tsifirnoi metode Sheve, sprilozheniem 70 russkikh pesen i 41 trekhglasnogo khora, preimushchestvenno dlia narodnykh shkol, intro, by G. A. Larosh (Moscow: A. N. Mamontov, 1867); Al'brekht, "O ratsional'nom prepodavanii peniia i muzyki v shkolakh," Pedagogicheskii sbornik, no. 11 (1870): 38-67.
(32) Chizhov, Obzor pervogo desiatiletiia, 29.
(33) Prazdnovanie dvadtsatipiatiletiia Russkogo khorovogo obshchestva, 1878-1903 (Moscow: S. P. Iakovlev, 1905), 23.
(34) Ibid., 24.
(35) Ibid., 10.
(37) Chizhov, Obzorpervogo desiatiletiia, 28.
(38) It is no coincidence that the All-Russian Choral Society published an anthology, edited by V. G. Sokolov, dedicated to the centennial of the Russian Choral Society (Russkoe khorovoe
(35) Ibid., 10.
(37) Chizhov, Obzorpervogo desiatiletiia, 28.
(38) It is no coincidence that the All-Russian Choral Society published an anthology, edited by V. G. Sokolov, dedicated to the centennial of the Russian Choral Society (Russkoe khorovoe obshchestvo--100 Let: Sbornik statei (Moscow: Moskovskii rabochii, 1979). It also edited an anthology of music, including the Russian Choral Society's repertoire (B. Tevlin, ed., Zdravstvui, slavnaia stolitsa! [Moscow: Muzyka, 1978]). Tevlin, who wrote the introduction, began with a short history of the Russian Choral Society and ended, without much explanation, with the All-Russian Choral Society, as if he were speaking of the same organization: "Today, the All-Russian Choral Society has more than four million members" (Zdravstvui, slavnaia stolitsa, 2).
(39) Only A. B. Liubimov, the groups most dogmatic member, was brave enough to refer to those pronouncements at the Organizing Committees plenary meeting ("Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 1. 234).
(40) See Nikita Khrushchev's report (otchetnyi doklad) to the Central Committee: "We are certain that working men and women, engineers, and technicians will, by their creative labor [emphasis mine--M.M.], ensure the successful completion of the Sixth Five-Year Plan" (XX s"ezd Kommunisticheskoi partii Sovetskogo Soiuza: Stenograficheskii otchet, 2 vols. [Moscow: Politizdat, 1956], 1:54).
(41) Ibid., 2:424. The 22nd Party Congress of 1961 would make especially frequent reference to the "restoration of Leninist norms." On other aspects of musical life in the Thaw period, see, e.g., Boris Schwarz, Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia, 1917-1981, enl. ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983), 271-438.
(42) See Eleonory Gilburd, "The Revival of Society Internationalism in the Mid to Late 1950s," in The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960s, ed. Denis Kozlov and Gilburd (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013), 362-401.
(43) Brudny, Reinventing Russia, 32.
(44) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 1. 304.
(45) "Materialy o lektsiiakh-kontsertakh i tvorcheskikh vecherakh khorovykh kollektivov v dvortsakh kul'tury g. Moskvy," GARF f. 646, op. 1, d. 98,1. 21.
(46) "Iz rechi zav. otdelom agitatsii i propagandy Frunzenskogo raikoma komsola Mel'nikova," ibid., 1. 24.
(47) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 1. 79.
(48) On the connections between Baltic song festivals, nationalism, and nation building, see K. Kuutma, "Cultural Identity, Nationalism, and Changes in Singing Traditions," in Folklore (Tartu), no. 2 (1996); A. Aarelaid-Tart and A. Kannike, "The End of Singing Nationalism as Cultural Trauma," Acta Historica Tallinnensia 27 (2004); D. J. Puderbaugh, " 'My Fatherland Is My Love': National Identity and Creativity in the Pivotal 1947 Soviet Estonian National Song Festival" (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 2006); I. Raudsepp and M. Vikat, "The Role of the Phenomenon of Joint Singing in the Development of National Identity in Estonia," Procedia--Social and Behavioral Sciences 29 (2011): 1312-19.
(49) In general, society ideologists complained that Russian collectives "lagged behind" other ethnic groups in the USSR in their ability to represent the "national" element. Thus, for example, Lev Khristiansen, head of the Urals National Choir and influential Soviet cultural official, expressed outrage at the society's first plenum: "Memory of costumes is beginning to be lost. The devil knows--forgive the expression--what Russian girls are wearing at festivals. Matryoshkas of some son. When the Mari collective performs, wonderful, astounding costumes; Tatar costumes--remarkable! Russian girls come on stage, and it's painful to behold [smotret' nevozmozhno]! We can help with this onsite. We have the experience" (GARF f. 646, op. 1, d. 15,1. 29).
(50) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta."
(51) See D. L. Lokshin, Prazdnik pesni shkol'nikov Moskvy (Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Akademii pedagogicheskikh nauk RSFSR, 1953).
(52) A photograph and description of the Mari festival can be found at http://olacity.ru.details. php?image_id=1678 (accessed 14 February 2015). The composer and conductor Konstantin Massalitinov (1905-79) was born too late to receive a church and prerevolutionary musical education. He graduated from music college, directing amateur choirs in the 1930s and later conducting a military orchestra. He wrote many choral works. In 1949, he was awarded the Stalin Prize. In the second half of the 1950s, Massalitinovs compositions changed markedly. Shifting away from propagandistic songs written in full conformity to Soviet ideology, he wrote large suites for folk choirs, beginning with "Krai rodnoi" in 1958. No one in the USSR had previously used this genre. Nationalistic ideas were presented in a softened, lyrical, nonaggressive manner. This shift in Massalitinovs style in 1958 coincided with the foundation of the All-Russian Choral Society. Evidently, Massalitinov fully supported the new society's aims and tried to create compositions in accordance with them.
(53) Massalitinov and Pevtsov soon coauthored a brochure describing the festival, published not in Voronezh but in Moscow. It was apparendy intended to propagandize the new experiment at the national level (K. I. Massalitinov and M. A. Pevtsov, Voronezhskii prazdnik pesni [Moscow: Sovetskii kompozitor, 1957]).
(54) M. D. Katseva, "Pevcheskie prazdniki," Muzykal'naia entsiklopediia, 6 vols. (Moscow: Sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1973-82), 4:215-19.
(55) O. Aver'ianova, Vserossiiskomu khorovomu obshchestvu--25 let (stranitsy istorii) (Moscow: Sovetskii kompozitor, 1985), 21.
(56) Ibid., 61.
(57) "Perepiska s mestnymi khorovymi obshchestvami i raznymi organizatsiiami po vsem voprosam organizatsionno-tvorcheskoi raboty Pravleniia Orgkomiteta VKhO, 1959," GARF f. 646, op. 1, d. 100,1. 1.
(58) Brandenberger, National Socialism, 17; Mitrokhin, Russkaia partiia.
(59) See, e.g., E. M. Sabadyshina, "Russkoe khorovoe obshchestvo v istorii otechestvennoi muzykal 'noi kul 'tury| (Candidate's diss. in the Arts, Gosudarstvennyi institut iskusstvovedeniia, 2009).
(60) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 1. 39.
(61) Ibid., 1. 104.
(62) Ibid., 1. 84.
(63) Ibid., 1. 35.
(64) Quoted in S. S. Kalinin, ed., Pamiati Aleksandra Vasil'evicha Svesbnikova: Vospominartiia (Moscow: Moskovskaia konservatoriia and Muzyka, 1998), 54.
(65) Ibid., 53.
(66) Vladislav Sokolov, Rabota s khorom (Moscow: Sovetskaia Rossiia, 1959). A second edition was published in 1964.
(67) On the changing meaning of these words over time, see M. Riedel, "Gesellschaft, Gemeinschaft," in Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lexicon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, ed. Reinhart Koselleck, Otto Brunner, Werner Conze, et al. (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1975), 2:801-62.
(68) See, e.g., R Eckert and S. McConnell-Ginet, "Communities of Practice: Where Language, Gender and Power All Live," in Locating Power: Proceedings of the Second Berkeley Women and Language Conference, ed. Kira Hall, Mary Bucholtz, and Birch Moonwoman (Berkeley: Berkeley Women and Language Group, 1992), 89-99; and Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, Identity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
(69) F. Tonnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundbegriffe der reinen Soziologie, 4th and 5th ed. (Berlin: Karl Curtius, 1922), 5. Translation from Ferdinand Tonnies, Community and Civil Society, ed. and trans. Jose Harris and Margaret Hollis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 19.
(70) Pamiati Aleksandra Vasil'evicha Sveshnikova, 57.
(71) Tonnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 5;Tonnies, Community and Civil Society, 19.
(72) Prazdnovanie dvadtsatipiatiktiia Russkogo khorovogo obshchestva, 16.
(73) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 11. 257-59 (speech by V. M. Uralova).
(74) Ibid., 1. 142.
(75) Ibid., 1. 37.
(76) Brudny, Reinventing Russia, 10, 17, 48.
(77) "Stenogrammy zasedanii 1 plenuma Orgkomiteta," 1. 31.
(78) Ibid., ll. 229-30.
(79) "Nasha zhizn' korotka, / Vse unosit s soboi, / Nasha iunost', druz'ia, / Pronesetsia streloi. // Pripev // Provedemte zh, druz'ia, / Etu noch' veselei, / I pust' nasha sem'ia / Soberetsia tesnei.... // Vyp 'empervyi bokal/Za svobodnyi narod, /A vtoroi nash bokal--/Za deviz nosh "vpered. " // Pripev IIA poslednii bokal / Budem vse podnimat' / Za liubimuiu Rus ', / Nashu Rodinu-matT "Provedemte, druz'ia, etu noch' veselei: Studencheskaia pesnia (obrabotka A. Sveshnikova)," in Izbranrtye proizvedeniia iz repertuara Gosudarstvennogo akademicheskogo russkogo khora Soiuza SSR: Pesni, no. 1 (Moscow: Muzgiz, 1958), 45-46. Other variants of this song were published as Russkie pesni, ed. I. N. Rozanov (Moscow: Goslitizdat, 1952); G. G. Soboleva, Rossiia vpesne: Muzykal 'nye strannitsy, 2nd ed. (Moscow: Muzyka, 1980); and V. Gusev, ed., Russkie pesni i romansy (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1989).
(80) See, e.g., Tonnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 195 (and sect. 13 of part 3).
(81) Nekrasov's text as published in S. V. Rakhmaninov, Shest' khorov dlia zhenskikh (ili detskikh) golosov (Moscow: Iurgenson, 1896), 3-6. The 1963 text comes from S. Rakhmaninov, "Slava narodu!" in Molodost' nasha: Sbornik zhenskikh khorov s fortepiano (iz repertuara Leningradskogo muzykal'no-pedagogicheskogo uchilishcha), ed. L. Rakovskii and L. Rossolovskii (Leningrad: Gosudarstvennoe muzykal'noe izdatel'stvo, 1963), 25-28. Thanks to Liv Bliss for her assistance in translating these two versions of the text.
(82) In Stalins times, the rhetoric of the family was used in a different sense, to refer to the "organic," irrational unity of the whole Soviet society, as in the common official phrase "family of peoples." In Sveshnikov's arrangement, family rather referred to the community of singers and listeners than to an imagined community. To the extent that it was indeed a community, it was united by "love," not by a common adherence to "Lenin's path."
(83) See, e.g., Mitrokhin, Russkaia partiia; K. A. Bogdanov, "Fiziki vs. liriki: K istorii odnoi 'pridurkovatoi' diskussii," Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, no. Ill (2011); Mark Lipovetsky, "The Poetics of ITR Discourse in the 1960s and Today," Ab Imperio, no. 1 (2013): 110-31; and Lipovetsky, "Clarifying Positions," Ab Imperio, no. 1 (2013): 208-19.
(84) See, e.g., V. A. ShnireTman, "Porog tolerantnosti": Ideologiia i praktika novogo rasizma, 2 vols. (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2011), 1:251-90; and [section]ener Aktiirk, Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
(85) "Lish' v vesennem nebe / Zasiiaet solntse, / Vles speshim skoree, / Tam nas zhdet vesel'e. / Kak khorosh zelenyi les vesnoiu, / Tam prokhladoi lesnoiu dyshit veter."
(86) Mikhail Pilipenko wrote the lyrics to the song, but the boy in the scene performs the melody without the text.
(87) "la vse ravno padu na toi, na toi edinstvennoi Grazhdanskoi, / I kommissary v pyl'nykh shlemakh skloniatsia molcha nado mnoi."
(88) R. Dzhagalov (Rossen Djagalov), "Avtorskaia pesnia kak zhanrovaia laboratoriia 'sotsializma s chelovecheskim litsom,'" trans. A. Skidan, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 100.
(89) According to a letter sent by the Russian president to the Federation Council: "we know that a growing number of people in the world support our position of defending traditional values, which have for millennia formed the spiritual and moral foundation of civilization for every people.... Of course, that is a conservative position" (http://www.kremlin/ru/ transcripts/19825, accessed 15 February 2015).
(90) On the repertoire, see http://childrenchoir.ru/vkho/index.php (accessed 15 February 2015).
(91) See http://childrenchoir.ru/index2.php (accessed 15 February 2015).
(92) On the repertoire, see http://childrenchoir.ru/deyatelnost/koncert.php. For the recording, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8FS59Tisgo (accessed 15 February 2015).
(93) The refrain to this song is based on the cliches of the Soviet "peace-loving" rhetoric of the 1970s: "All people on this big planet / Must always be friends. / Children must laugh, / And live in a peaceful world!"
(94) See M. Maiofis, "Sovetskie meisterzingery: Dvizhenie detskikh khorovykh studii v SSSR (1958-1991)," in Posle Stalina: Pozdnesovetskaia sub "ektivnost1953-85, ed. Anatolii Pinskii (St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii universitet v Sankt-Peterburge, forthcoming).
(95) The program was published on the Ministry of Culture's website (http:/mkrf.ru/ ministerstvo/dgpint/dsp, accessed 5 June 2015).
(96) On 28 October 2015, the Russian government issued a decree proclaiming 2016 the year of the Ninth World Choir Games, to be held at the sports facilities built for the Sochi Olympics (http://publication.pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001201510300015?index=0&rangeSize=l, accessed 10 December 2015). Gunter Tisch, a German fan of choral singing, originated the Choir Games, which have so far taken place in eight different countries. This effort by the Russian authorities coincides with their policy to represent Russia as the "society of a unified majority."
(97) Many scholarly works have been dedicated to this regime of historical politics. See, e.g., Boris Dubin, "Simuliativnaia vlast' i tseremonial 'naia politika," Rossiia nulevykh: Politicheskaia kul'tura, istoricheskaia pamiat', povsednevnaia zhizn' (Moscow: Rosspen, 2011); Dubin, "Rezhim razobshcheniia," Pro et Contra, no. 1 (2009): 6-19; Dubin, "Vera bol'shinstva," in Montazh i demontazh sekuliarnogo mira, ed. A. V. Malashenko and S. B. Filatov (Moscow: Moskovskii tsentr Karnegi and Rosspen, 2014), 190-201.
(98) The 2015 celebration of the Day of Slavonic Writing and Culture on Red Square featured a short hymn (troparion) to the saint Prince Vladimir. The overall program also included Chaikovskii's "Hymn to Saints Cyril and Methodius," the finale to the "1812 Overture" and Glinka's "Patriotic Song," all of which are examples of musical nationalism.
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