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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Patrick Zuk

Zuk, Patrick (2019). Boris Asaf'yev in 1948. Journal of the Royal Musical Association 144(1): 123-156.

Author(s) from Durham


The venerable founder of Soviet musicology Boris Asafiev aroused widespread dismay by his actions in 1948 after the promulgation of a Central Committee resolution condemning the USSR’s leading composers: he not only acquiesced in his appointment as chairman of the Composers’ Union, but agreed to give a keynote address endorsing the resolution at its first national congress. His admirers have claimed that he must have been coerced into collaboration and that his address did not reflect his real views. The present essay re-examines the circumstances, arguing that the evidence of Asafiev’s willing complicity is overwhelming. A close analysis of his keynote address reveals its contents to be wholly consistent with views that he had regularly expressed throughout his career, as one of the principal progenitors of an anti-modernist, ethnic nationalist and xenophobic strain in Soviet writing on music that was given forceful expression in the 1948 resolution.