The Belarusian musicology

The Belarusian Musicology and Kholopov’s tradition scientific school

Yuri Nikolaevich Kholopov (1932-2003), the head of a modern theoretical school, an Honoured Art Worker of Russia, a Laureate of the State Prize of Russia, a Doct.Ph., a Professor of the Moscow Conservatory (the Department of Music Theory), he brought up over 100 pupils assisting them at different stages of their professional growth – in writing multiple diploma theses (U. Evdokimova, S. Savenko, T. Cherednichenko, etc.), forty candidate’s theses and fifteen doctoral theses. All his pupils have found their own place in the musical community. Those engaged in scientific research have brought up the second and the third generation of musical professionals who follow the tradition of the Kholopov’s scientific school. The main Kholopov’s pedagogical principles included a strong sense of responsibility, strict task execution, deep understanding of every phenomenon and wide-ranging erudition. He devoted his life to knowledge and, first of all, demanded his pupils to display due diligence at work and studies. He could not stand dilettantism and any approximateness. Elena Cheremnykh told of Kholopov: ‘With his 40-year teaching experience under the belt, he gained the reputation of not only an expert in harmony and musical theoretical systems, but also of a founder of a modern scientific school. No matter if they became Kholopov’s scientific successors or rivals, it was his students and postgraduates who enlivened the scientific environment in the country, where Ivan Sollertinskiy and Boris Asafyev had been regarded as the main theorists for fifty years. Promoting a new approach in this archaic environment and especially in Moscow was very difficult. Nevertheless, Yuri Kholopov managed to intensify the process of changes. His own pupils and his pupils' pupils studied the manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, brought back the forgotten musical vocabulary of the ancient Greeks and Latins, revised the Soviet heritage and discovered the Western avant-garde of Boulez, Stockhausen and Cage, while considering the contemporary processes in the Soviet/Russian music as well.

Yuri Kholopov was well-known by the Belarusian scientific and pedagogical communities. He repeatedly came to Belarus with his lectures (“The Rhythm Techniques in the XX Century”, “Twelve-tone Technique at the End of the Century. The Theory of Hemigroups”, “Stockhausen’s Group Technique”), and published his articles in local periodicals and collections of articles. The Musical Dictionary[1] contains over thirty Kholopov’s articles including “Graphic Bars”, “Twelve-tone Technique”, “Dodecarow”, “Hemitone Models”, and others. The dictionary has become the first Belarusian systematic summary of data from all the various fields of musical culture and arts, and the first attempt to develop and to systematize the Belarusian musical vocabulary. It contains musical terms and concepts, special terms and definitions including various sized explanations for each of them – from short references to detailed reviews (over 4,000 articles in total). The dictionary covers a wide range of issues related to musical theory, musical instruments, singing voices, vocal, orchestral, vocal symphonic and choral music, various genres, styles and musical forms, musical and artistic schools and tendencies (including Early music, Classical music, Romantic music, Modern music, Orthodox singing culture, Catholic music tradition, and also avant-garde music and jazz). Some of them are illustrated with musical notations, explanatory schemes and references to musical compositions. All the provided materials allow the dictionary to be used as a tutorial.

One of Kholopov’s numerous pupils is Tatsiana Mdivani, a Belarusian musicologist, a Dr. Ph., a Professor and a Laureate of the State Prize of Belarus, who has established a scientific school in Belarus to follow the traditions of her renowned teacher. Her pupils I. Gorbushina, V. Gudey-Kashtalyan, O. Dubatovskaya, E. Kurtenok, N. Matsaberidze, A. Subbotniaya (Alla de Rooij) and G. Tsmyg.

Their research results have been published in many Belarusian periodicals (such as “Mastatstva” (“Art”)), in scientific journals “Vesti NANB” (“Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus”, Series of Humanitarian Sciences) and “Vesti BGAM” (“The Bulletin of the Belarusian State Academy of Music”), in reference books and collections of scientific articles including “Voprosy Iskusstvovedenia, Etnologii i Folkloristiki” (“The Issues on Arts, Ethnology and Folklore Studies” issued by the K. Krapiva Institute of Arts, Ethnography and Folklore Studies since 2006), “Vestnik BGU” (“The Bulletin of the Belarusian State University”), “Kultura i Iskusstvo” (“Culture and Art”), and also in Russian, Polish, German, England, Latvian and Ukrainian publications.

To share their opinion with the musical community, the researchers the Kholopov’s school actively participate in local and international scientific conferences held in Grodno, Moscow, Minsk, Kiev, Zaslavl, Nesvizh, Koln, Leipzig, Daugavpils, Druskininkai, etc. The most important scientific and cultural gatherings they attend on a regular basis include “Nesvizh Muses”, “The Actual Problems of the World Art”, “The Nefedov’s Conference”, “Zaslavl. Our Genealogical Roots”, “Philosophy as Self-actualization of Culture and a Mediator for the Cultures’ Dialogue”, “Philosophy and the Future of Civilization”, “The Slavs: Unity and Diversity” under the Festival of Slavic Written Language and Culture, “The Slavic Cultures Following the Second World War”, “The Slavic Cultures: the Historical Experience and the Current Problems”, “The Most Important Composing Trends of the Second Half of the XX Century”, “Music in the Context of Cultural Globalization”, “The National Traditions and the Modernity”, “The Prospects for Rationality in the XXI Century”, “Belarusian Folk Instruments in the Context of Artistic Culture: Aesthetics, Pedagogy, Creative Work (Composing and Performing Arts) and Technologies”, “Music Education in the Cultural Context”, “Science. Culture. Creative Work”, “The Problems of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Television Arts in the Current Context of the Slavic Culture”, “The Saints Cyril and Methodius Conference”, “The Current Problems of Modern Culture”, “The Days of the Belarusian Written Language” held in Shklov, Smargon and Glubokoe, Byhov and too “Man. Culture. Education”, “Belarus and the Musical Heritage of the XX Century: Research and Findings”, “Muzikas zinatne sodien: pastavigas un mainigais”, “Yuri Kholopov and His Scientific School” held in Moscow, etc.

The researchers have been striving to create an integral image of the stylistic evolution in the Belarusian and western music in the second half of the XX century, to discover the distinctive features of music in the last quarter of the century and to establish the unique continuity manifested in all genres of both Belarusian and European composers’ music. They have also considered the issues of contextuality, the specific style of the local composers and the mechanism for the western rationalistic concepts to affect the modern Belarusian music. Their most important research results include:
    • discovering the links between the European musical thought and the world culture, and defining the reasons for the composers’ comprehensiveness, breadth and a sense of globalization while studying the universe
    • identifying the new characteristics of the modern musical mentality
    • defining the ways for the mutual enrichment of the European cultures in the field of composing art, and describing the genre and stylistic features of the Belarusian composers’ music in the context of creative relationship with the Slavic musical cultures
    • creating an integral image of the stylistic evolution of the Belarusian professional music in the context of continuity problems One of the long-standing traditions of the Belarusian music researchers, representatives of the second generation of the Kholopov’s school, is their active participation in defending candidate and doctoral theses in Minsk, Moscow and Vilnius acting as opponents, experts of opponent bodies, and scientific supervisors.

The Belarusian music of the last third of the XX century is a successor of the non-classical epoque. In our view, its specific character lies in the integrated diversity of the cultural experience. This concept agrees with Ivan Antonovich’s idea that a synthesis, an amalgam of all spiritual values and the accumulated experience of the national culture, is a guarantee of steadiness and durability of the musical civilization. Taking into account the previous and the current knowledge, the Belarusian music also allows the modern tendencies and the new semantic and artistic systems to penetrate into its stylistic basis. Due to the well-preserved folk culture in Belarus, the professional music of the last third of the XX century keeps on being regarded as the Belarusian national music, and it has entered the whirl of international cultural life with this status. Life itself has made many scientists, art researchers and musicologists consider all the various issues of the modern interdisciplinary research including the protection of musical cultural heritage, cultural ecology, music education and also philosophy, synergetics, mathematics, acoustics, and psychology. Music has become a common background for daily routines, which may decrease its spiritual value. Considering these and other multiple issues adds to the actuality of music research and places it on a par with the most essential fields of knowledge.

[1]Musical Dictionary (Belarusian-Russian and Russian-Belarusian with foreign language terms (Italian, French, German); Minsk: Belaruskaya Navuka, 1999; authors: G. Kuleshova (Dr.Ph., Prof.), Т. Mdivani (Prof., Dr. Ph.), N. Uvchenko (Dr. Ph.), L. Antoniuk (Doctor of Philology), L. Matukovskaya (Associate Professor of the BSAM), D. Podberezenskiy (expert in jazz music). Involved in the work was also Yuri Kholopov’s sister – Valentina Nikolaevna Kholopova, a Corresponding Member of RANH, a Dr. Ph., a Professor of the Moscow Conservatory, an Honoured Scientist, and a Holder of the Order of Friendship of Russia.