Nine Talks on Russian Non-Classical Music

Publisher Description

I am sorry to feel that the book’s title promises less than the book is able to give to its reader. True enough, on the following pages Dr Grechin comes to talk about Russian pop music, Russian bard movement, Soviet war songs, Soviet songs for children, Soviet female artists, Russian romance, or Russian rock music—subjects which fail to give me any thrill. (I suppose the same might be said about any Western reader.) It is not the subject of his lectures, though, that makes his book valuable.
Dr Grechin begins to talk about any of his songs (that, let us admit it frankly, are interesting only for a limited number of music lovers)—and he ends up talking about Dead Poets Society (a 1989 American drama film), Arthur Miller, J. B. Priestley, George Orwell, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, William Butler Yeats, Matthew Arnold, Jean Paul Sartre, Karl Marx, a succession of Russian tsars, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Virgil, and Jesus Christ meeting St Andrew. A remarkable number of names and cultural phenomena are mentioned; a variety of ‘general, very general’ questions, educational, aesthetic, ethical, philosophical, and religious, are given full attention. On this occasion, allow me to quote from Dr Grechin’s ‘Lesson Five.’
'I recognise that I am notoriously known for my lectures being somewhat "too general." You may suspect that, should I ever deliver a lecture about children’s songs, I most likely would start with such questions as: what are children? How do they differ from adults? How is a child to be educated? I am about to prove your suspicions right and to do precisely that.'
It is not only children, though: it is children’s premature sexualisation, rights of sexual minorities, ‘toxic’ masculinity, ‘patriarchal dominance’ of white cisgender males, the would-be exceptionalism of the snowflake generation—in short, all liberal dogmas of the brave new world of today that Dr Grechin touches upon and whose validity he bravely questions on the pages that follow. At times, Dr Grechin ceases to be an academician and begins to sound as a preacher: I almost can hear the voice of his (and my) teacher in what he says about men and women being different in terms of their spiritual tasks; I think, too, that Rinpoche-la would wholeheartedly embrace everything said by his disciple about ‘Christianity Lite,’ ‘Buddhism Lite,’ and other such spiritual surrogates. In plain words, it is a very good book.

(c) Ludwig Roemer

Professional & Technical
24 October
Борис Гречин

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