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

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


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.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... 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). ...
Full-text available
In Russia, the impact of the end of World War I was subsumed under the far greater impact of the October Revolution, which led to a bifurcation of Russian culture into Soviet and émigré branches. This article examines a hybrid literary and musical work from the interwar period: Viacheslav Ivanov’s nine Roman Sonnets ( Rimskie sonety, 1924) and the musical settings that the composer Aleksandr Grechaninov made of five of these as his Sonetti Romani in 1939. Here, both poet and composer seek to convey the experience of finding oneself in one of Europe’s most evocative historical and cultural locations. At the same time, their evocation of Rome forges a powerful historical narrative of the city’s prior inhabitants. Accordingly, Rome emerges as an intertextual palimpsest of literary and artistic references, which together create a powerful sense of cultural continuity to offset the loss of the artist’s original homeland.
This book explores how, amid the final tumultuous years of the Russian empire, music was viewed as a powerful force with the ability to overcome the social, political, and ethnic divisions that, it was feared, were tearing the empire asunder. Drawing on German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s description of music as the “Dionysian” force and the “primal unity” that underpinned reality itself, Russian cultural elites (philosophers, historians, musicians and writers) argued that music promised an important means through which to forge a unified Russian identity within a society increasingly threatened by social discord, revolutionary upheaval, and growing nationalism. In this context of perceived modern disintegration and national uncertainty, music offered both a symbol of a transformed society (marked by social unity, spiritual depth, and cultural richness) and a means through which to achieve this transfiguration. This book offers a detailed examination of the philosophical claims surrounding music given voice by Russian cultural elites (“Nietzsche’s orphans”) with particular analysis of three Russian composers: Aleksandr Scriabin, Nikolai Medtner, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Though internally divided in their individual assessments of each composer’s significance, Nietzsche’s orphans sought in these musical figures a possible theurgic artist (or latter-day “Orpheus”) whose music would have the power to reunify society. This worldview of “musical metaphysics” ultimately proved incapable of reuniting Russian society, however, as music and philosophy both took on an increasingly nationalistic meaning in the cataclysm of the Great War, undermining the very unity that had been sought.
Some of the perpetual follies of Russian music study-anxiety about Chaikovsky’s sexuality and unwarranted speculation about Stravinsky’s, the continued currency of Shostakovich’s faked memoirs, the pretense that Prokofieff’s fine music excuses the inhumanity of the texts he willingly set during his Soviet years-are revisited under the aegis of the triad of transcendental values advanced by the Greeks: the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Some parallel cases from outside the realm of Russian music are considered as well. The upshot: onlythe True is acceptable as a binding if unreachable goal for scholarship.
Arthur Vincent Lourié (1891–1966), futurist, communist commissar of music, and close friend of Stravinsky in Paris in the 1920s, was an important member of avant-garde Russian artistic circles in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Yet by the 1950s he seems to have faded into obscurity. This article attempts to fill the gap left by the lack of discussion of the strange permutations of Lourié’s career after his emigration in 1922 by way of an analysis of his miniature 1961 song cycle Zaklinaniya (‘Incantations’). The cycle consists of five settings of lines from Anna Ahkmatova’s Poema bez geroya (‘Poem Without a Hero’), whose first part recalls Lourié and Akhmatova’s shared past in Russia’s Silver Age. Akhmatova (1889–1966), an intimate friend of the dandyish Lourié and at the centre of avant-garde artistic circles in pre-Revolutionary St Petersburg, describes the early 1910s as a Meyerholdian nightmarish masquerade in which the protagonists were constantly in danger of losing their identity through nihilistic role playing. Lourié’s elusive figure can be seen as the embodiment in the Poema of the frightening, superfluous shadow with ‘neither face nor name’. Rather than any unfortunate turn of political or personal history, it was Lourié’s affection for masks – for taking up exaggerated poses and concealing his real face – that provides the most compelling reason for his gradual disappearance from view in the chaos of the first half of the twentieth century.
From its dissonant musics to its surrealist spectacles (the urinal is a violin!), Modernist art often seems to give more frustration than pleasure to its audience. In Untwisting the Serpent, Daniel Albright shows that this perception arises partly because we usually consider each art form in isolation, even though many of the most important artistic experiments of the Modernists were collaborations involving several media—Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is a ballet, Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts is an opera, and Pablo Picasso turned his cubist paintings into costumes for Parade. Focusing on collaborations with a musical component, Albright views these works as either figures of dissonance that try to retain the distinctness of their various media (e.g. Guillaume Apollinaire's Les Mamelles de Tirésias) or figures of consonance that try to lose themselves in some total effect (e.g. Arnold Schoenberg's Erwartung). In so doing he offers a fresh picture of Modernism, and provides a compelling model for the analysis of all artistic collaborations. Untwisting the Serpent is the recipient of the 2001 Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship of the Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University.
Don Giovanni's Eucharist and the Decadent Aesthetics of Arthur Lourié
  • Móricz
Khronika pamiati. Iz amerikanskikh dnevnikov Artura Lur'e
  • Bobrik
An Orphic Requiem (undated typescript)
  • Graham Irina
Our March’, trans. Andrea Graham, typescript dated Princeton
  • Lermontov Mikhail Iurʹevich
V poiskax poteriannogo Orfeia: kompozitor Artur Lur'e
  • Rubinchik
A Biographical Sketch; citation_author=Bobrik, Olesya; citation_author=Móricz, Klára; citation_author=Morrison, Simon; citation_publication_date=2014; citation_inbook=Funeral Games in Honor of Arthur Vincent Lourié
  • Lourié
Vospominanie o Peterburge: cheyre romansa dlia golosa I roialia na slova Pushkina, Lermontova, i Bloka. Autograph, 1927. Lourié Collection
  • Lermontov Mikhail Iurʹevich
Undated notecards. Lourié Collection
  • Lourié Arthur
The Dehumanization of Music
  • Lermontov
Iz amerikanskikh dnevnikov Artura Lur'e
  • Pamiati
Siniaia kniga: Peterburgskii dnevnik
  • Z N Gippius
Materiali dlia biogrfii
  • Pasternak
Ravel the Decadent: Memory, Sublimation, and Desire
  • Michael Puri
The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova
  • Anna Akhmatova
  • Andreevna
  • Judith Hemschemeyer
  • Roberta Reeder
Autograph draft and sketches, 1921-1941. Lourié Collection, 34, VII, 13d, Paul Sacher Foundation
  • Mikhail Lermontov
  • Iur'evich. Uzkaja
  • Lira
Moscow: Izdatel'stvo folio
  • Osip Mandelshtam
  • Stikhotvoreniia
  • Proza
The Chimeras, trans. Peter Jay with an essay by Richard Holmes
  • Gérard Nerval
  • De
Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii v trekh tomakh
  • Aleksandr Blok
The Noise of Time: The Prose of Osip Mandelstam, trans. with critical essays by Brown
  • Osip Mandelshtam
Anna Akhmatova i Fontannyi Dom
  • Nina Popova
  • Ivanovna
  • O E Rubinchik
Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. Moskva: Izdatelstvo akademii nauk SSSR
  • Aleksandr Pushkin
  • Sergeevich
Arthur Lourié Und Der Russische Futurismus
  • Detlef Gojowy
Nasledie simvolizma i akmeizma
  • Nikolai Gumilev
Leksicheskii povtor, podtekst, i smysl’ v poetike Osipa Mandel'shtama
  • Omri Ronen