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Unfolding the Fan of Memory in Arthur Lourié’s Recollection of Petersburg

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This article demonstrates how migration formed a process of memory construction in the work and thought of Russian émigré composer Arthur Lourié (1891–1966). It analyses Lourié’s song cycle Recollection of Petersburg , composed over two decades and across four countries, providing close readings of music and poetry and exploring the network of intertextual connections the cycle activates. Lourié has proven a difficult subject because of the diversity of aesthetic positions he took from decade to decade. Recollection allows us to trace a line of continuity as he passed through these incarnations, revealing an aesthetics of accumulation and arrangement with origins in Acmeist poetics. This aesthetics, in turn, served as a coping strategy for Lourié’s life in emigration, as he sought to order the voices of memory and escape the flow of time. Lourié’s case will contribute to our understanding of the profound impact of migration on music in the twentieth century.

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... By contrast, the more conservative Nikolai Metner (also Medtner) remained loyal to the canon of Russian and German romantic poetry which he had favoured before his emigration to the West, thereby creating a deliberate sense of continuity with the literary and musical culture of the past which the October Revolution had sundered (Boyd, 1965). Lurʹe, too, found himself increasingly drawn to Russian poetry as a way of coping with the isolation imposed by exile (Móricz, 2008;Salkowski, 2019). Others, such as Sergei Rakhmaninov, gave up composing songs entirely, as if separation from the homeland rendered lyric impossible as a form of creative expression (Sylvester, 2014). ...
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