In the June 10 edition of his Russian Music class, David Nice explored “End of the Thaw and musical life after Khrushchev.” Nice wrote:
“Khrushchev’s sudden rages against jazz and abstract art signalled a closing-down of hard-won freedoms. Shostakovich’s Thirteenth Symphony, setting a range of poems by the young iconoclast Yevgeny Yevtushenko, was a surprise casualty. Meanwhile, dodecaphony was having its impact on a younger generation of composers, but not for long: we see how with Alfred Schnittke and the Estonian Arvo Pärt.”
With Bach as the touchstone for each of them, Schnittke composed Quasi una Sonata and Pärt composed Credo.
Schnittke wrote of Quasi una Sonata:
“The Sonata begins with a loud, short G-minor triad. That was very important for me . . . after a very long period of writing exclusively serial music. Suddenly I had to write this piece, without rules of construction. It was, so to speak, a mutiny against everything else. There is a continual exchange between this triad and a dissonant violin chord: the piece seems to stammer. Then, suddenly, the motif B-A-C-H appears…at the end it stands out clearly as the solution. The solution consists of the fact that nothing is solved . . . “. [cite]
“[Arvo Pärt’s] Credo was premiered on 16 November 1968 in Tallinn by the Estonian Radio Choir, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the pianist Mart Lille, conducted by Neeme Järvi. The event was a sensation: the shocked audience demanded a repeat performance, but shortly afterwards Credo was banned, with Pärt and several other individuals in the music world having to answer to the authorities whether it was a political provocation. However, according to the composer himself, it was a deeply personal act, and in a musical sense, it was his farewell to twelve-tone music. ‘It was as though I had bought myself freedom, but at the cost of renouncing everything and being left completely naked. It was like turning the new page in my life. It was a decision, a conviction in something very significant.’ (Arvo Pärt 70. A radio series of 14 parts by Immo Mihkelson, Klassikaraadio, 2005, part 6)” [cite]
The image at the head of the post may be found here.