The Areas of Music Research

The key issues considered by the Kholopov’s tradition scientific school continuers is the problem of context and historical continuity of the European musical art and culture (E. Kurtenok, N. Matsaberidze, T. Mdivani, and G. Tsmyg), the problem of interaction between East and West (T. Mdivani, A. Subbotnyaya, and G. Tsmyg) and of composers’ styles (V. Gudey-Kashtalyan, N. Matsaberidze, T. Mdivani, and G. Tsmyg), the problem of compositional features of ballet music (V. Gudey-Kashtalyan) and choral music (O. Dubatovskaya and G. Tsmyg), the problem of composers’ interpretation of the Slavic ethos (T. Mdivani) and the church music (G. Tsmyg), the problem of piano (I. Gorbushina) and choral performance (G. Tsmyg), the problem of the Belarusian cultural studies (E. Kurtenok and G. Tsmyg), as well as the ontological issues of the European music academic tradition (T. Mdivani and G. Tsmyg). According to the chosen subject matter, each of the researchers has provided a formation and evolution picture of the main music academic genres. The genre transformations of the music nature are considered through a complex analysis in order to identify the music image system, the types of composition and contents, the features of the utilized musical language and the national originality. A number of works concerned with synthetic genres like opera and ballet apply to a systematic structural method, which includes an integrated synthesis of music, stage performance and scenography. The most important feature in the scientific works is their strong theoretical orientation. They study a musical phenomenon through the lenses of a thorough musicological analysis, with the following interpretation of the phenomenon as a cultural act. The latter is of special importance, since it was the Kholopov’s school researchers who oriented the scientific work towards the philosophy of music. The approach was first introduced by a renowned Russian philologist and philosopher A.F. Losev, a Kholopov’s companion and colleague.

The Problem of Historical Continuity

It is commonly regarded that the national cultural traditions define the national mentality, make up the national heritage and affect the formation of new art phenomena. The tradition enables to trace back the historical continuity, to construct the succession line and to demonstrate both the internal and the external cultural layers, serving as an alternative to the ‘bottom’ type artistic activity. Thus, the problem of continuity is an important theoretical basis in studying the general composing principles and the specific patterns of the composing evolution. The researchers have studied the correlation between the contemporary music, the music heritage, the traditions of the modern European music and the works of foreign composers. They have also been involved in considering the issues of the new music quality and the music contextuality. These all have enabled them to provide a better insight into the musical nature of the works created by the Belarusian composers and to create an integrated picture of the Belarusian music stylistic features.

Most often have addressed the problem of context and historical continuity. In her doctoral thesis and monograph “The Western Rationalism in the Musical Thought of the XX Century” T.G. Mdivani has traced back the evolution of the European rationalism-based musical thought from the antiquity to the present day. The candidate thesis “The Compositional and Dramaturgic Characteristics of the Belarusian Ballet as a Musical and Theatre Genre” defended by V.G. Gudey-Kashtalyan in 1999 was the first attempt in the Belarusian musicology to study the principles of the ballet genre evolution (proto-canon, canon and post-canon), to develop the multilayered structure of the ballet genre and to define its genre subtypes. The subject has been further developed in a number of her articles including “The Genre Continuity in the Modern Belarusian Ballet”, “The Symphonic Ballet: the Succession Line in the Development of the Belarusian Composing Art”, and “The Correlation Between Music and Choreography in the Process of Historical Development of the Ballet Genre”.

The problem of continuity also underlies the candidate thesis by G.P. Tsmyg, which is dedicated to the Belarusian choral concerto and its correlation with the Western European and Eastern Slavic traditions (“The Choral Concerto: the Issues of Style, Genre and Texture” defended in 2005). The researcher was the first in the European musicology to establish the importance of the concerto genre for the modern choral concert music, to provide the genre and stylistic characteristics of the choral concerto at different stages of the European music evolution (including the Venice choral concert of the XVI century) and to identify the phenomenology of the vocal and choral concerto. Her works “The European Choral Concerto of XVI-XX Centuries” and “The Belarusian Choral Concert Music in the European Cultural Context” are concerned with the problem of context, while her article “Several Aspects of the Choral Concert Theory” deals with the problem of choral concert theory.

N.V. Matsaberidze considers the Belarusian and Russian roots of Art Nouveau Music, its stylistic differences from the musical avant-garde, and the specific realization of the style by the local composers in her candidate thesis of 2004 “Art Nouveau and its Specific Interpretation in the Works of the Belarusian Composers”. The novelty of her article “Interpreting History in the Modern Belarusian Music: E. Glebov, A. Mdivani, D. Smolskiy” lies in considering the historical issue through the lenses of works by outstanding Belarusian composers. Historical evolutionary approach has also been addressed by Irina Gorbushina in her article “The Evolution of Musical Notation and its Correlation with the Performing Art” and by A.G. Subbotnyaya in her lecture on “The Influence of Eastern Traditions on the Music Genre Structure in Western Avant-garde” presented at Daugavpils conference.

The Problems of the Modern Belarusian Music

There is a wide range of research works related to the modern Belarusian music and its integration with the European musical culture. Each work has made a significant contribution to the development of the Belarusian musicology. Studying the modern music is a difficult task, since the composing development process is controversial and multidimensional. Some of its aspects may be easily passed over due to the researchers’ inability to consider the issue passionlessly and to provide a generalized insight into the phenomenon, which has not become a historical event yet. Nevertheless, serious analytical efforts coupled with attention to details and to the national traditions have resulted in identifying the main trends in the development of the modern Belarusian and Russian music not only in the national context, but also in terms of the world and European musical culture. All the Belarusian researchers have articles “Choreoplastic Vector in the Development of the Modern Belarusian Theatre” and “E. Glebov’s Ballet: Genre Typology and Compositional Dramaturgic Models” by V.G. Gudey-Kashtalyan, “The Belarusian Choral Concerto: the Issues of Genre, Style and Choral Texture”, “The Modern Choral Academic Music in Belarus: Genre and Style Peculiarities”, “The Academic Choral Music in Belarus: the Issue of Specific Composing Art”, “Das Genre des Chorkonzertes im Schaffen der weissrussischen Komponisten an Ende des 20 Jhrhunderts (Theorie, Geschichte, Praxis)”, “Vocal and Vocal Instrumental Music in the Context of the Modern Belarusian Music”, “The Belarusian Choral Concerto and Its Correlation with the National Singing Tradition”, “The New Choral Concerto: the Issue of Stylistic Search by the Modern Belarusian Composers”, “Die Spezifik der geistlichen Musik in Weissrussland” by G.P. Tsmyg, “The Stylistic Trends in the Development of the Belarusian Music in the Second Half of the XX Century”, “The National Features of the Belarusian Piano Music” by A.G. Subbotniaya, “The Genre Content of the Belarusian Music at the Turn of the XXI Century”, “Implementing Stravinsky’s Traditions in the Belarusian Music of 1960-90’s: the Issue of Interpreting the Modern National Music Style”, “Vitebsk Roots of the Belarusian Art Nouveau”, “The Peculiar Style of the Belarusian Composers in the Last Third of the XX Century. Art Nouveau and Avant-garde”, “Art Nouveau Reminiscence in the Belarusian Music of the Second Half of the XX Century”, “The Instrumental Genres of the Belarusian Professional Music in the Postmodernism Artistic Contest”, “Art Nouveau in Music: the Issue of the National Peculiarities of the Belarusian Music in the Second Half of the XX Century” by N.V. Matsaberidze, and others.

The Problems of the Current Musical Thought. The Modern and the Contemporary Music.

The problems of the current musical thought and the composing techniques of the Modern and the Contemporary music including the methods employed by local composers are considered in a wide number of T.G. Mdivani’s articles – “The Belarusian Musical Avant-garde: Tomorrow’s Forecast”, “The Belarusian Music at the Turn of the XXI Century: the Creative Search”, “Implementing the Principles of the Western European Avant-garde in the Modern Belarusian Music”, “Introduction to the Musical Surrealism Poetics”, “The New Aspects of the Musical Avant-garde Thought in the Second Half of the XX Century”, “The Classical, Non-classical and Traditional Features in the Modern and the Contemporary Music of the XX Century”, “The Chance Music and the Collage in the Avant-garde Music of the XX Century”, “The Uncertainty Principle in the Avant-garde Music of the Second Half of the XX Century”, “The Specific Features of Musical Entity in the Second Half of the XX Century”, “The Non-classical and the New Non-classical Rationalism in the Modern and the Contemporary Music of the XX Century”, “Specific Implementation of the Western Musical Avant-garde Principles in the Works by Eastern European Composers”, “The Types of Rationalism in the European Music Culture of the Second Half of the XX Century”, “Rhizoma and the New Musical Practice in the Postmodern Era”, “The New Musical Performance Genres in the Works by Avant-garde Composers of the Second Half of the XX Century”. In her book The Western Rationalism in the Musical Though of the XX Century T.G. Mdivani was the first to identify the crisis of the musical radicalism and to provide a consistent solution by turning to the ideas of integrity, harmony and beauty. The author utilizes the synergetic methodology to solve the problems of the non-classical musical style propagated by modern composers and also to analyze the avant-garde opuses. She considers the Belarusian music inseparably linked with the European (both western and Russian) music tradition.

Galina Tsmyg has chosen the choral music to study the musical radicalism. The works devoted to this problem include “Alternative Choral Music Notation: the Issue of Assimilating the Musical Avant-garde of the XX century in Pedagogical and Performance Practice”, “The Specific Features of Theatricality in the Choral Concert Music of Western and Eastern Europe”, “The New Choral Concerto Forms: the Issue of Stylistic Search by the Modern Belarusian Composers”, “Timbre Acoustics As a Source of Creating a Performance Image in the Choral Theatre”, “The Modern Choral Academic Music in Belarus: the Specific Style and Genres”, and “The Choral Academic Music in Belarus: the Specificity of Author's Creative Concepts”. An innovative approach to the problem of the correlation between the Art Nouveau music and the avant-garde music has been provided by Nelly Matsaberidze (“Avant-garde and Art Nouveau: the Issue of Stylistic Peculiarities”, “The Art Nouveau Music in the context of Stylistic Phenomena in the XX Century”, “The Stylistic Features of the Belarusian Composers in the Last Third of the XX Century. Art Nouveau and Avant-garde”).

The Musical Theatre

One of the most interesting fields of the Belarusian music is musical theatre including the genres of opera, ballet and musical comedy. The most prominent researcher in this field is Vera Gudey-Kashtalyan. Her professional interests primarily concentrate on the simulated genre synthesis, the symphonic ballet, the reinterpretation of classics and the theatrical aspect of the symphonic style. All these problems are considered on the material of the ballet music by S. Prokofiev, P. Tchaikovsky and the Belarusian composers. The already published research results indicate the author’s scientific maturity as well as her ability to address the most challenging scientific issues related to the musical theatre (“The Simulated Genre Synthesis as a Genre Making Principle of Non-classical Ballet”, “The Symphonic Ballet: the Development Continuity in the Works of the Belarusian Composers”, “Choreoplastic Vector in the Development of the Modern Belarusian Theatre”, “The Theatrical Aspect of the Symphonic Style”).

T. Mdivani has devoted several sections of her book The Belarusian Musical Theatre. The Opera Arts to the opera genre. The author has conducted a musicological analysis of operas by D. Smolskiy and U. Semenyako, and also of the Belarusian radio and TV operas. Her article dedicated to E. Glebov’s opera “Master and Margarita” studies the universals of stage work and the correlate of composer – stage director – music director. A number of her articles consider the specific composing interpretation of a famous opera by V. Kuznetsov, which is based upon a Nikolai Gogol’s short story “A Diary of a Madman”.

The Sacral Problems in Music

The Belarusian musicologists have recently directed their research efforts to a new field, namely the studies of Orthodox and church music. These are mainly concerned with developing the problems of correlation between the secular professional music and psalm stylistics, and also with the problems of Orthodox singing culture. The latter are covered by a number of T.G. Mdivani’s articles including “The Stylistics of Orthodox Psalms and Their Implementation in the Works of Modern Composers”, “Music and Orthodox Psalms: a Terminological Issue”, “The Creative Power of Orthodox Psalms in Terms of Globalization”, and are also considered in the bookBelarusians, the section of “The Musical Panorama of the Second Half of the XX Century: Symphonic, Folk Orchestral and Chamber Instrumental Music, Opera and Religious Music”. The church music issues are also studied by G. Tsmyg in her articles “Die Spezifik der geistlichen Musik in Weissrussland“, “The Correlation of Secular and Church Features in the Choral Religious Music” based upon the works of the modern Belarusian composers, “The Images of Polotsk Enlighteners in the Religious Music by the Belarusian Composers”, and “Geistliche Chormusik der Gegenwart. The ModernChurch Music”.

The Interaction Problems of Eastern and Western Traditions in terms of Academic Music

The Belarusian researchers of the Kholopov’s school pay due attention to the problem of convergence of western and eastern traditions manifested in the works by composers who represent the modern Belarusian music in the western European avant-garde context. The interaction between east and west in the musical tradition was first problematized by T.G. Mdivani in The Western Rationalism in the Musical Though of the XX Century and followed by Alla Subbotniaya in her candidate thesis on “Implementing the Eastern Traditions in the European Music of the Second Half of the XX Century and the Beginning of the XXI Century” (defended in 2011). The researcher has studied the theoretical issues of interaction between the eastern and the western mentalities, and the representation form of this new phenomenon in the western composers’ works. The results of her research have also been published in a form of a monograph (“The Eastern Traditions in the European Music of the Second Half of the XX Century and the Beginning of the XXI Century”) and later refined in a number of articles including “The New Musical Reality in the Second Half of the XX Century: K. Stockhausen’s Mantra”, “The Correlation of Eastern and Western Traditions in Music (Theoretical Aspects)”, “The Influence of Eastern Traditions on the Genre Structure of Western Avant-garde Music”, etc. However, being based on the philosophical and musicological approach, this issue is still to be further researched in order to extend the range of the subject material and to link the issue with the adjacent fields of knowledge. Working on the problem is also Galina Tsmyg, who focuses on the issues of the Chinese and the western European traditions (“The problem of Preserving the National Musical Theatrical Tradition: the Example of Beijing Opera”), and on the issues of the western European and eastern European traditions (“The Development of the Eastern European Choral Concerto in the Russian Empire: the Baroque and the Classical Genre”, “The Western European Choral Concerto”, “From the Choral Concerto of Venice to the Belarusian Choral Concerto of the XX Century”).

The Theory of Performing Arts

In the modern musicology an increased attention is given to the performance musicology. A special focus is provided to the problem of performer’s interpretation, since the current musical performance practice is far from the concepts of a ‘performing composer’ or a ‘composing performer’ (A. Kudryashov). Thus, the agogic techniques are usually reconsidered by a performer and reinterpreted according to the musician’s personality, the epoque’s esthetic guidelines, the artistic style, etc. Nevertheless, despite these deviations while performing, the agogic nuances do not destroy the overall tempo and follow the composer’s message. The problems of performer’s interpretation by an example of piano art performance are considered by Irina Gorbushina. Her research results and conclusions have been published in a number of articles including “The Evolution of the Musical Notation and Its Correlation with the Performing Arts”, “The Correlation of the First and Second Line Parameters of the Singing Notations in the Avant-garde Music of the First Half of the XX Century” with piano music taken as an example, “The Theoretical Aspects of Interpreting the Musical Notation by the Modern Performers”.

Galina Tsmyg has chosen choral performance as her research area, with a special focus on the history, theory and practice of choral music including the Belarusian experience in the field. She considers the issue in the context of both the Romance and the Slavic choral traditions. Her most notable works include “The Belarusian Concert Performance during the Last Third of the XX Century and the Beginning of the XXI Century”, “The Choral Academic Music in Belarus: Specific Features of Author's Creative Concepts”, “The Choral Concert Performance in 1970-80’s: Specific Features and Perspectives”, “The Modern Choral Academic Music in Belarus: Peculiar Style and Genre”, “Several Aspects of the Choral Concert Theory”, “The European Choral Concerto: the Issues of Style, Genre and Texture”, “Virtuosity and Its Interpretation in Choral Concertos by G. Gabrieli, V. Titov and A. Bondarenko”, and “The Specific Choral Concerto Texture: Sviridov, Bogatyryov, Mdivani, Bondarenko”.


In order to reconstruct an integrated and objective picture of the formation, the development and the current state of the Belarusian musical culture and arts, it is necessary to study the development of the main areas of musical culture in a particular region, where the basis for the musical, creative, concert and performing practices was first laid. Being a large Belarusian cultural centre, Gomel remains one of the least studied cities in the domestic musicology. Elena Kurtenok has devoted her candidate’s thesis to the musical culture of Gomel, a city founded by the Russian aristocrats Rumyantsev and Paskevich. The author considers the paths and the stages of the development of the city’s musical culture, and its specific features during the pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet periods. Elena has proved herself as an experienced and active professional in the field of local musical history in a number or articles including “The Musical Culture of Gomel in the National Cultural Context: the Second Half of the XVIII-XX Centuries”, “The Musical Culture of Gomel in 1917-1941: the Basis for Professional Practice”, “The Musical Culture of Gomel as a Subject Matter for the ‘Belarusian Musical Culture’ Studying Course”, etc.

The issues of the Belarusian local history, phenomenology and the current state of the musical culture in the modern Belarusian historical centres are also addressed by Galina Tsmyg. Working with the archival materials the researcher has been able to create an integrated picture of the musical cultural development in small Belarusian towns. Her research results have been presented in a number of articles including “Die musikalische Kultur in den historischen Zentren Weissrusslands. Phaenomenologie und gegenwaertiger Zustand / The Musical Culture in the Belarusian Historical Centres. Phenomenology and the CurrentState”, “Archivbestaende: Zur Geschichte der Musikinstitutionen Weissrusslands / Archival Materials: the History of the Musical Societies in Belarus”, and others.