New module: ‘Russian Music, Literature, and Film’

In the spirit of academic sharing, I am delighted to share the syllabus for my new 2022/23 module, ‘Russian Music, Literature, and Film’ at Royal Holloway, University of London. Beginning January 2023, I’ll be teaching this module, itself expanded and adapted from a pre-existing module originally devised by my brilliant colleague, Professor Tina K. Ramnarine. Over 10 weeks, students will engage with Russian and Soviet music, literature, and film, including listening, readings, and film screenings. We will also have a brief introduction to the Russian language.

Historical, social, and political contexts are the main focus, though there will plenty of scope for music analysis and ‘the music itself’. Fingers crossed, we will have a guest speaker in our department Research Forum to coincide with the module, and we will also hopefully have some cross over with our Music Department concert series.

This is all still a work in progress, of course – please let me know if you have any thoughts or comments!

MU2260/MU3260: Russian Music, Literature, and Film (overview)

Russia is a vast country with diverse musical traditions. This module provides an in-depth exploration of Russian cultural life, focusing on a wide range of musical practices from the 20th century onwards. It considers the establishment of conservatoires and the politics informing compositional practices. It examines musicological debates about the construction of ‘Russian’ music and the subsequent debates around a ‘Soviet’ school. It also adopts interdisciplinary perspectives in looking at music alongside literature and film, with key texts from prominent authors, and a programme of film screenings. Musical practices in this context are interlinked with literature and film (especially Soviet examples). This module will explore examples such as Prokofiev’s music for Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky, up to the recent era with the prison letters of Nadya Tolokonnikova (from the punk-protest group Pussy Riot). The module will highlight music in various political contexts from imperialism, border territories, communism and indigeneity to glasnost and recent political alliances and conflicts. The module will include practical elements as appropriate so that students gain beginner-level experience of the Russian language.

Learning Outcomes

1. show understanding of Russian cultural life from the 20th century onwards

2. develop interdisciplinary perspectives on Russian cultural practices (music, literature and film)

3. begin to view 20th-Century Russian music on screen through the lens of cultural theory

4. consider a wide range of musical practices in this geographic context

5. relate some Russian musical examples in this course to other ones globally

6. consider ethnographic and historical work on Russian cultural life.

Brief Overview of weekly topics

Week 1 – 19th-C traditions and contexts (Glinka, Mighty Handful, Tchaikovsky)

Week 2 – The Silver Age (Scriabin and Rachmaninov)

Week 3 – Music for the Revolution: ASM and RAPM

Week 4 – Socialist Realism

Week 5 – The search for Soviet opera (Lady Macbeth, Quiet Flows the Don)

Week 6 – Film music (Aleksander Nevsky, Fall of Berlin, The Cranes are Flying)

Week 7 – The experiences of Soviet national republics

Week 8 – Soviet avant-garde (Schnittke, Denisov, Ustvolskaya, Gubaidulina, Pärt, etc)

Week 9 – Rock in the Soviet Bloc (Stilyagi, Viktor Tsoi, Kino, Mashina Vremeni, etc)

Week 10 – Music and protest in and out of 21st C Russia (Raskatov, Pussy Riot, Smirnov, Silvestrov)

Film screenings:

  1. Man with a movie camera + Chess Fever
  2. Aleksander Nevsky
  3. Socialist Realism: ‘Volga Volga’ and ‘The Fall of Berlin’ (Just the final scene)
  4. Circus
  5. The Cranes are Flying
  6. Kozintsev’s Hamlet
  7. Solaris
  8. Animation special: Tale of Tales/Glass Harmonica/Hedgehog in the fog/Vinni Pukh
  9. Moscow does not believe in Tears
  10. Russian Ark


  1. Dostoevsky: The Meek One
  2. Aleksander Blok: Poems
  3. Zoshchenko: ‘Sentimental Tales’
  4. Gorky: Mother (extract)
  5. Akhmatova: Requiem
  6. Bulgakov: A Dog’s Heart
  7. Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  8. Yevtushenko: Poems
  9. Tatyana Tolstaya, short stories.
  10. Zizek and Tolokonikova: The Prison Letters: Comradely Greetings

Recommended text/course for beginner’s Russian: Russian for Dummies (and Duolinguo app)

Russia’s act of aggression against Ukraine

Royal Holloway statement:

Statement from British Association of Slavic and East-European Studies (BASEES)

Key and further readings

Week 1 – 19th-C traditions and contexts (Glinka, Mighty Handful, Tchaikovsky)


Daniil Zavlunov, ‘Constructing Glinka’, The Journal of Musicology, 31/3 (2014), 326-353.

Richard Taruskin, ‘Non-Nationalists and other Nationalists’, 19th-Century Music, 35/2 (2011), 132-143.


Marina Frolova-Walker, ‘Glinka’s Three Attempts at Russianness’, in Russian Music and Nationalism: From Glinka to Stalin (London: Yale University Press, 2007), 74-139.

Rutger Helmers, ‘“It just reeks of Italianismi”: Traces of Italian Opera in Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar’, Music & Letters, 91/3 (2010), 376-405.

Week 2 – The Silver Age (Scriabin and Rachmaninov)


Lincoln Ballard and Matthew Bengston, ‘En Garde or Avant Garde? Exploding the Scriabin Myth’, in The Alexander Scriabin Companion: History, Performance, and Lore (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) 1-14.

Charles Fisk, ‘Nineteenth-Century Music? The Case of Rachmaninov’, 19th-Century Music, 31/3 (2008), 245-265.


Glen Carruthers, ‘The (re)appraisal of Rachmaninov’s music: contradictions and fallacies’, The Musical Times, 147/1896 (2006), 44-50.

Rebecca Mitchell, ‘Introduction’, in Critical Lives: Sergei Rachmaninoff (London: Zero, 2022).

Week 3 – Music for the Revolution: ASM and RAPM


Richard Taruskin, Defining Russia Musically (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 81-98.

Amy Nelson, ‘The Struggle for Proletarian Music: RAPM and the Cultural Revolution’, Slavic Review, 59/1 (2000), 101-132.


Neil Edmunds, ‘Music and Politics: The Case of the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians’, The Slavonic and East European Review, 78/1 (2000), 66-89.

Daniel Elphick, ‘Order or Chaos? Thoughts on Shostakovich’s Second Symphony’, DSCH Journal, No. 49, 19-21.

Patrick Zuk, ‘Nikolay Myaskovsky and the “Regimentation” of Soviet Composition: A Reassessment’, The Journal of Musicology, 31/3 (2014), 354-393.

Week 4 – Socialist Realism


Anon., ‘Muddle instead of Music’, Pravda 28 January 1936.

Alexander Ivashkin, ‘Who’s Afraid of Socialist Realism?’, The Slavonic and East-European Review, 92/3 (2014), 430-448.

Pauline Fairclough, ‘Was Soviet Music Middlebrow? Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Socialist Realism, and the Mass Listener in the 1930s’, Journal of Musicology, 35/3 (2018), 336-367.


Daniel Elphick, ‘Socialist Realism and Socrealizm’, in Music Behind the Iron Curtain: Weinberg and his Polish Contemporaries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019) 88-130.

Marina Frolova-Walker, ‘The Glib, the Bland, and the Corny’, in Roberto Illiano and Massimiliano Sala (eds), Music and Dictatorship in Europe and Latin America, (Turnhout: Brepols, 2009) 404-405.

Week 5 – The search for Soviet opera (Lady Macbeth, Quiet Flows the Don)


Philip Ross Bullock, ‘Staging Stalinism: The Search for Soviet Opera in the 1930s’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 18/1(2006), 83-108.

Marina Frolova-Walker, ‘The Soviet Opera Project: Ivan Dzerzhinsky vs. Ivan Susanin’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 18/2 (2006), 181-216.


Nathan Seinen, ‘Prokofiev’s “Semyon Kotko” and the melodrama of High Stalinism’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 21/3 (2009), 203-36.

Anna A. Berman, ‘Competing Visions of Love and Brotherhood: Rewriting “War and Peace” for the Soviet Opera Stage’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 26/3 (2014), 215-238.

Irina Kotkina, ‘Soviet Empire and Operatic Realm: Stalinist Search for the Model Soviet Opera’, Revue des études slaves, 84/3-4 (2013), 505-518.

Week 6 – Film music (Aleksander Nevsky, Fall of Berlin, The Cranes are Flying)


Kevin Bartig, ‘Introduction’, in Composing for the Red Screen: Prokofiev and Soviet Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 3-11.

David C. Gillespie, ‘The Sounds of Music: Soundtrack and Song in Soviet Film’, Slavic Review, 62/3 (2003), 473-490.


Peter Kupfer, ‘Volga-Volga: “The Story of a Song,” Vernacular Modernism, and the Realization of Soviet Music’, Journal of Musicology, 30/4 (2013), 530-576.

Peter Kupfer, ‘“Our Soviet Americanism”: Jolly Fellows, Music, and Early Soviet Cultural Ideology’, Twentieth-Century Music, 13/2 (2016), 201-232.

Week 7 – The experience of Soviet republics


Leah Goldman, ‘Nationally Informed: The Politics of National Minority Music during Late Stalinism’, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Ostreuropas, 67/3 (2019), 372-400.

Marina Frolova-Walker, ‘“National in Form, Socialist in Content”: Musical Nation-Building in the Soviet Republics’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 51/2 (1998), 331-371.


Kevin C. Karnes, ‘Soviet Musicology and the “Nationalities Question”: The Case of Latvia’, Journal of Baltic Studies, 39/3 (2008), 283-305.

P. Suutari, ‘Trajectories of Karelian Music after the Cold War’, in The Oxford Handbook of Popular Music in the Nordic Countries, eds. Fabian Holt and Antti-Ville Kärjä (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 237-256.

P. Suutari, ‘National Representation and Folk Music Song Writers in Russian Karelia’, Traditiones, 40/3 (2011), 113-129.

Week 8 – Soviet avant-garde (Volkonsky, Schnittke, Denisov, Ustvolskaya, Gubaidulina, Pärt, etc)


Peter J. Schmelz, ‘Introduction’, in Such Freedom, If Only Musical: Unofficial Soviet Music During the Thaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 3-25.

Simon Morrison, ‘Galina Ustvolskaya Outside, Inside, and Beyond Music History’, Journal of Musicology, 36/1 (2019), 96-129.


Peter J. Schmelz, ‘Alred Schnittke’s Nagasaki: Soviet Nuclear Culture, Radio Moscow, and the Global Cold War’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 62/2 (2009), 413-474.

Peter J. Schmelz, ‘Andrey Volkonsky and the Beginnings of Unofficial Music in the Soviet Union’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 58/1 (2005) 139-207.

Levon Hakobian and Sabine Grebing, ‘Tertium datur: Die sowjetische Musikavantgarde 1956-1982’, Osteuropa, 59/4 (2009), 77-84 [In German].

Week 9 – Popular Music in the Soviet Bloc (Stilyagi, Viktor Tsoi, Kino, Mashina Vremeni, etc)


Mark Edele, ‘Strange Young Men in Stalin’s Moscow: The Birth and Life of the Stiliagi, 1945-1953’, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 50/1 (2002), 37-61.

Timothy W. Ryback, ‘Leninism versus Lennonism: Reflections on Rock Music Culture in East Europe and the Soviet Union’, Ethnomusicology Journal, 1/2 (2018), 217-228.

William Jay Risch (ed), ‘Introduction’, in Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc: Youth Cultures, Music, and the State in Russia and Eastern Europe (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2015) 1-23.


Ekaterina Dobrotvorskaja, ‘Soviet Teens of the 1970s: Rock Generation, Rock Refusal, Rock Context’, Journal of Popular Culture, 26/3 (1992), 145-150.

Harvey G. Cohen, ‘Visions of freedom: Duke Ellington in the Soviet Union’, Popular Music, 30/3 (2011), 297-313.

Terry Bright, ‘Soviet Crusade against Pop’, Popular Music, 5 (1985), 123-148.

Week 10 – Music and protest in and out of 21st C Russia (Raskatov, Pussy Riot, Smirnov, Silvestrov)


Marina Yusupova, ‘Pussy Riot: A Feminist Band lost in History and Translation’, Nationalities Papers, 42/4 (2014), 604-610.

Peter J. Schmelz, ‘Valentin Silvestrov and the Echoes of Music History’, Journal of Musicology, 31/2 (2014), 231-271.


Gulnaz Sharafutdinova, ‘The Pussy Riot affair and Putin’s démarche from sovereign democracy to sovereign morality’, Nationalities Papers, 42/4 (2014), 615-621.

Tara Wilson, ‘Russian Minimalist Music: A “Maximalist” Approach’, Iskusstvo muzïki: teoriya i istoriya, 25 (2021), 8-27.

Elena Dubinets, ‘Music in Exile: Russian Émigré Composers and their Search for National Identity’, Slavonica, 13/1 (2007), 57-67.

Alexander Ivashkin, ‘The Paradox of Russian Non-Liberty’, The Musical Quarterly, 76/4 (1992), 543-556.


Russian/Soviet history and culture

Applebaum, Anne, Gulag: A History (London: Penguin, 2004).

Belton, Catherine, Putin’s People: How the KGB took back Russia and then took on the West (London: William Collins, 2021).

Brooks, Jeoffrey, Thank you, Comrade Stalin! Soviet Public Culture From Revolution to Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).

         – The Firebird and The Fox: Russian Culture under Tsars and Bolsheviks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Clark, Katerina, Evgeny Dobrenko, Andrei Artizov, and Oleg Naumov (eds), Soviet Culture and Power: A History in Documents, 1917-1953 (London: Yale University Press, 2007).

Conquest, Robert, The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, 50th anniversary edition (London: Bodley Head, 2018).

Dobrenko, Evgeny, (trans. Jesse M. Savage) Late Stalinism: The Aesthetics of Politics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020).

Dollbaum, Jan Matti, Morvan Lallouet, and Ben Noble, Navalny: Putin’s Nemesis, Russia’s Future? (London: Hurst, 2021).

Edele, Mark, Debates on Stalinism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020).

Figes, Orlando, Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (London: Penguin, 2003).

Fitzpatrick, Sheila, The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1992).

Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Freeze, Gregory L. (ed), Russia: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Frye, Timothy, Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021).

Geldern, James von and Richard Stites, (eds.) Mass culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995).

Hoffmann, David L. (ed), The Memory of the Second World War in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia (London: Routledge, 2021).

Hosking, Geoffrey, A History of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991: Final Edition (London: Fontana Press, 1992).

Inkeles, Alex and Raymond A. Bauer (eds.), The Soviet Citizen: Daily Life in a Totalitarian Society, 4th edn.(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Johnson, Priscilla, Khrushchev and the Arts: Politics of Soviet Culture, 1962-1964 (Boston: MIT Press, 1965).

Johnston, Timothy, Being Soviet: Identity, Rumour, and Everyday Life under Stalin, 1939-1953 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Jones, Polly, Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2013).

Kenez, Peter, A History of the Soviet Union from the Beginning to its Legacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Kozlov, Denis, and Eleonory Gilburd (eds), The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960s (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013).

Lenin, V.I., On Literature and Art (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970).

Lewin, Moshe, The Soviet Century (London: Verso Books, 2003).

Overy, Richard, Russia’s War: A History of the Soviet War Effort, 1941-1945 (London: Penguin, 1999).

Rzhevsky, Nicholas (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Modern Russian Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Service, Robert, Lenin: A Biography (London: Pan, 2000).

Stalin: A Biography (London: Pan, 2010).

Taubman, William, Khrushchev: The Man, His Era (London: The Free Press, 2003).

Trotsky, Leon, Literature and Revolution (ed. William Keach, trans. Rose Strunsky) (Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books, 2005).

Yurchak, Alexei, Everything was Forever, until it was no more: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).


Any, Carol, The Soviet Writers’ Union and Its Leaders: Identity and Authority under Stalin (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2020).

Clark, Katerina, The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

Dobrenko, Evgeny, and Marina Balina (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Russian Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

       – and Mark Naumovich Lipovetskiy (eds), Russian Literature since 1991 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Dunham, Vera S., In Stalin’s Time: Middle Class Values in Soviet Fiction (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990).

Emerson, Caryl, The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Ermolaev, Herman, Censorship in Soviet Literature, 1917-1991 (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996).

Hingley, Ronald, Russian Writers and Soviet Society, 1917-1978 (New York: Random House, 1979).

Kelly, Catriona, Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

– and Stephen Lovell (eds), Russian Literature, Modernism, and the Visual Arts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Terras, Victor, A History of Russian Literature (London: Yale University Press, 1991).

Film (and film music)

Bartig, Kevin, Composing for the Red Screen: Prokofiev and Soviet Film (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

            – Sergei Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

Belodubrovskaya, Maria, Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017).

Egorova, Tatiana, Soviet Film Music: An Historical Survey (Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1997).

Ivashkin, Alexander, and Andrew Kirkman (eds.), Contemplating Shostakovich: Life, Music, and Film (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2013).

Kaganovsky, Lilya and Masha Salazkina (eds) Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014).

Katz, Maya Balakirsky, Drawing the Iron Curtain: Jews and the Golden Age of Soviet Animation (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016).

Kelly, Catriona, Soviet Art House: Lenfilm Studio under Brezhnev (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).

Lawton, Anna, The Red Screen: Politics, Society, Art in Soviet Cinema (London: Routledge, 1992).

Ledya, Jay, Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film, 3rd edn. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983).

Riley, John, Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005).

Stilwell, Robynn Jeananne, and Phil Powrie (eds), Composing for the Screen in Germany and the USSR: Cultural Politics and Propaganda (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).

Taylor, Richard, and Derek Spring (eds), Stalinism and Soviet Cinema (London: Routledge, 1993).

– The BFI Companion to Eastern European and Russian Cinema (London: BFI, 2000).

Titus, Joan, The Early Film Music of Dmitry Shostakovich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

White, Frederick H., and Alexander Burry (eds), Border Crossing: Russian Literature into Film (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

Russian/Soviet music and composers

Ballard, Lincoln, and Matthew Bengston, The Alexander Scriabin Companion: History, Performance, and Lore (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

Bazayev, Inessa, and Christopher Segall (eds), Analytical Approaches to 20th-Century Russian Music (New York: Routledge, 2020).

Bek, Mikuláš, Geoffrey Chew, and Petr Macek (eds), Socialist Realism and Music (Praha: KLP, 2004).

Borenstein, Eliot, Pussy Riot: Speaking Punk to Power (London: Bloomsbury, 2020).

Bowers, Faubion, Scriabin, a Biography (London: Dover, 2011).

Brown, Malcolm Hamrick (ed.). Russian and Soviet music: essays for Boris Schwarz (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1984).

(ed.) A Shostakovich Casebook (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004).

Bullock, Philip Ross (ed.), Rachmaninoff and his World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022).

Dixon, Gavin (ed.), Schnittke Studies (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017).

Edmunds, Neil, The Soviet Proletarian Music Movement (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2000).

Soviet Music and Society under Lenin and Stalin: The Baton and Sickle (New York and London: Routledge, 2004).

Elphick, Daniel, Music Behind the Iron Curtain: Weinberg and his Polish Contemporaries (Cambridge University Press: 2019).

Fairclough, Pauline (ed.), Shostakovich Studies 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

– (with David Fanning) (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Shostakovich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Classics for the Masses: Shaping Soviet Musical Identity under Lenin and Stalin (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016).

Critical Lives: Dmitry Shostakovich (London: Reaktion Books, 2019).

Fanning, David (ed.), Shostakovich Studies (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

         – Mieczysław Weinberg: In Search of Freedom (Hofheim: Wolke, 2010).

Fay, Laurel, Shostakovich: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Frolova-Walker, Marina, Russian Music and Nationalism: From Glinka to Stalin (London: Yale University Press, 2007).

– (with Jonathan Walker) (eds), Music and Soviet Power: 1917-1932 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2012).

Stalin’s Music Prize: Soviet Culture and Politics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016).

Gasparov, Boris, Five Operas and a Symphony: Word and Music in Russian Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005).

Guillaumier, Christina, The Operas of Sergei Prokofiev (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2020).

Gillies, Richard Louis, Singing Soviet Stagnation: Song Cycles from the USSR (London: Routledge, 2021).

Glikman, Isaak, Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman 1941-1975 (trans. Anthony Phillips) (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Haas, David, Leningrad’s Modernists: Studies in Composition and Musical Thought, 1917-1932 (New York: Peter Lang, 1998).

Hakobian, Levon, Music of the Soviet Era: 1917-1991 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).

Herrala, Meri, The Struggle for Control of Soviet Music from 1932-1948: Socialist Realism vs. Western Formalism (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2012).

Illiano, Roberto, and Massimiliano Sala (eds), Music and Dictatorship in Europe and Latin America, (Turnhout: Brepols, 2009).

Ivashkin, Alexander, Alfred Schnittke (London: Phaidon, 1996).

Kholopov, Yuri and Valeria Tsenova, Edison Denisov (trans. Romela Khovanovskaya) (Chur: Harwood Academic, 1995).

Kurtz, Michael, Sofia Gubaidulina: A Biography, trans. Christoph K. Lohnmann, ed. Malcolm Hanrick Brown (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007).

Maes, Francis, A History of Russian Music: From “Karaminskaya” to “Babi Yar” (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 2002).

McAllister, Rita, and Christina Guillaumier (eds), Rethinking Prokofiev (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Medić, Ivana, From Polystylism to Meta-Pluralism: Essays on Late Soviet Symphonic Music (Belgrade: Institute of Musicology SASA, 2017).

Mitchell, Rebecca, Critical Lives: Sergei Rachmaninoff (London: Zero, 2022).

Mikkonen, Simo, Music and Power in the Soviet 1930s: A History of Composers’ Bureaucracy (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009).

Morrison, Simon, The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Nelson, Amy, Music for the Revolution: Musicians and Power in Early Soviet Russia (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004). 

Nice, David, Prokofiev: From Russia to the West, 1891-1935 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003).

Norris, Geoffrey, Rachmaninoff (London: Dent, 1993).

Risch, William Jay, (ed), Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc: Youth Cultures, Music, and the State in Russia and Eastern Europe (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2015).

Schmelz, Peter J., Such Freedom, If Only Musical: Unofficial Soviet Music During the Thaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Schwarz, Boris, Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia, 1917-1981, expanded edn. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983).

Sitsky, Larry, Music of the Repressed Russian Avant-Garde, 1900-1929 (Westport, Connecticut and London: Greenwood Press, 1994).

Smrž, Jirí, Symphonic Stalinism: Claiming Russian Musical Classics for the New Soviet Listener, 1932-1953 (Münster: Lit, 2011).

Taruskin, Richard, Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions: A Biography of the Works through Mavra, (two vols.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Defining Russia Musically (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1997).

       – On Russian Music (Oakland: University of California Press, 2010).

       – Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays (Oakland: University of California Press, 2016).

Tomoff, Kiril, Creative Union: The Professional Organization of Soviet Composers, 1939-1953 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2006).

       – Virtuosi Abroad: Soviet Music and Imperial Competition during the Early Cold War, 1945-1958 (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2015).

Tsenova, V. (ed), Underground music from the former USSR (Amsterdam: Harwood, 1997).

Walsh, Stephen, Stravinsky: A Creative Spring – Russia and France, 1882-1934 (London: Pimlico, 2002).

       – Stravinsky: The Second Exile – France and America, 1934-1971 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).

Werth, Alexander, Musical Uproar in Moscow (London: Turnstile Press, 1949).

Wilson, Elizabeth, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 2nd edition(London: Faber, 2006).

Zuk, Patrick (and Marina Frolova-Walker, eds), Russian Music since 1917: Reappraisal and Rediscovery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

         – Nikolay Myaskovsky: A Composer and His Times (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2021).

Podcasts (available wherever you get your podcasts from)

Note: podcasts should be understood as part of your wider listening/research, rather than first-hand sources. If a podcast gives a point or idea that you would like to reference, double-check their scholarly sources, and go to those texts first (the same principle applies for any YouTube video!)

Russian/Soviet history

SRB Podcast (Sean’s Russia Blog)

New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies


Tipsy Tolstoy


‘Russophiles Unite!’: A Russian & Soviet Movie Podcast

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