Olga Panteleeva

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Department:
Music
Term:
Fall 2014

My dissertation Formation of Russian Musicology from Sacchetti to Asafyev (1886-1932) explores Russian thought on music in the period leading to the institutionalization of musicology as a scholarly discipline. The turn of the 20th century in Russia saw the expansion of writing on music, as established European textbooks and histories were translated and new Russian ones were written. It was a time of rapid assimilation of European music historiography, aesthetics and philosophy, rethought and reacted against in a nationalistic vein. Caught in the midst of many disparate influences – Hanslick's formalism, Taine's positivism, Helmholtz's empiricism, nationalistic currents of Russian realism and, later, the irrationalist philosophies of the Silver Age (notably the Theosophic thought of Scriabin's circle) – these four decades were crucial in shaping what music scholarship came to be in Russia. No study has yet untangled the conflicting viewpoints of the fin-de-siècle Russian debates on music and traced them back to their many sources. However, without understanding this body of knowledge one cannot hope to fully comprehend what the brave new Soviet musicology built upon, and against what it reacted. The intellectual history that will result from such an examination will also shed the light on the origins of the methods that Soviet and Russian scholars relied upon over the course of the 20th century.

Using my cross-cultural – Russian, European and American – academic background, I am committed to facilitating a fruitful scholarly dialogue between different musicological traditions. I reflect on the methodological premises of both traditions in my teaching and engage with the philosophical underpinnings of the early Russian musicology in my research, using both my detailed knowledge of the material and analytical skills acquired in St. Petersburg and critical methods acquired in Utrecht and Berkeley. I translate the work of American and European scholars into Russian and endeavor to increase the presence of Russian scholars at international conferences. Thus, my dissertation is a part of my broader endeavor to counteract, to the best of my ability, the resurging political tensions—eerily reminiscent of the Cold War—between the American and European cultures on the one hand, and Russian on the other.