Reviews

This paper is dedicated to an unstudied aspect of the history of Central Asian traditional music, more specifically in Uzbekistan in the 1950s.  Through an analysis of the Soviet doctrine of “anti-cosmopolitanism” (the overall preference for Russian national heritage in the USSR) and its musical understandings in Moscow and the Soviet republics, the author assesses the contradictions of the Soviet cultural policy.  He first exposes how anti-cosmopolitan campaigns developed between 1949 and 1952, and their anti-Semitic component.  However the key issue of this cultural policy was the vagueness of its interpretations, which in the musical field paved the way to a nationalist trend in Uzbekistan.  The author reconstructs the conduct of musical institutions in the Uzbek SSR during the last decade of Stalin’s reign.  Stressing the realistic thought then prevailing in the field of musical creation, and showing how folk songs were being used for the creation of an “Orientalist” classical music, he recalls the priority given to the creation of symphonies and operas.  The way Soviet Uzbek musical institutions tried to promote an Uzbek musical nationalism through a utilisation of the anti-cosmopolitan doctrine advocated in Moscow is explained by both the arrival of Soviet musicians banished to Tashkent and by the resistance of political and cultural local institutions against the overall russification process.  The “Uzbek path” aimed at the integration of folk music (including the Shash-maqam repertoire) into the institutional domain, whence the Union of Composers of the USSR used to consider this music “feudal and primitive,” recommending the professionalisation, viz. Europeanisation, of local musicians and composers.  Conversely, the reaction of the Commissariat for Artistic Affairs of the Central Committee consisted of a strengthening of cultural institutions in Central Asia and the elimination of every trace of “ethnic essentialism” in the musical practice of Central Asian republics.  In the meantime, the Uzbek movement had spread toward the Tajik and Turkmen SSR.  Beyond a simple conflict between Moscow and Tashkent seen as a resistance to russification, K. Tomoff underlines the complexity of the Soviet cultural organisation, and the decisive role played by “national” political institutions in some resistance movements.  On the musical level, the author clearly explains how the forced diffusion of Russian criteria for professionalism have exerted an impact upon musical practice itself, stressing how vernacular (monophonic) musical forms symbolised for Russia a “feudal age” which had to be modernised.  Based on a rich archive material, this analysis of the Soviet cultural policy brings a new look at Central Asia’s musical history during a crucial period of time, and so doing it can only enrich the study of modern and contemporary musical developments in the region.

Ariane Zevaco, French Institute of Research in Iran, Tehran
CER: I-4.5-380