This article examines performance and reception of music of sacred tradition in the Soviet Union in the 1970s-80s, with the focus on two works composed in the genre of Catholic Requiem Mass, Alfred Schnittke’s Requiem (1975) and Vyacheslav Artyomov’s Requiem (1988). The article recounts the history of Soviet atheism that, as a result of state’s failure to eradicate religion, evolved into a form of secular modernity, and outlines the music culture in which Schnittke and Artyomov lived. The official reception of the two requiems, which changed dramatically within twelve years, illustrates the state’s changing attitude to religion from atheist, where religion is denounced, to secular, where religion is acceptable, but not officially imposed by the state.

Author Biography

Oksana Nesterenko is a music historian with research focus on the late Soviet Union, religion, spirituality and secularity. She received a PhD in Music History and Theory at Stony Brook University in 2021. Her dissertation, “A Forbidden Fruit? Religion, Spirituality and Music in the USSR before its Fall,” investigated the impact of state censorship on religious themes in concert music during 1964-1991 in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kyiv, and Tallinn. In 2020-2021 academic year, she is a visiting scholar at the Jordan Center at New York University.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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