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The Russian Microfiche Collection

Our library holds a substantial microfiche collection of important arts-related items in Russian.

These include

Historical music journals published in Russia,
Futurist periodicals and manifestos,
The Kasimir Malevitch Archive (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam),
The whole Card-Catalogue of the Scientific-Music Library of the ex- Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory.

Historical music journals published in Russia

At the turn of the century a great number of gramophone and phonograph journals like Gramofon i Fonograf [Gramophone and Phonograph], Grammofonyi Mir [Gramophone World], Grammofonaya Zizn [Gramophone Life], and many others reflect a strong interest for the then rising sound-recording industry and its products. Before that, the Muzikal’naya uveselenya [Musical Recreation], with musical pieces published in series, marks the starting point of music- periodical press in eighteenth-century imperial Russia (Moscow 1774/5). In the next century the music-related press in Russia proliferated. Journals like the Muzikal’nyi vestnik[Musical Courrier] (Moscow 1870/2) continue the tradition of serial music publishing with, at the same time, getting Russian audiences in touch with Western European musical life. Valuable information on music at the beginning of the 20th century can be found in the weekly Teatr i iskusstvo [Theatre and Art] (St. Petersburg 1890 - 1918).

A. N. Rimsky- Korsakov, the composer’s son, was the editor of Muzikal’nyi sovremennik [Musical Contemporary] (St. Petersburg 1915 - 1916), one of the most important Russian music-journals: the interested reader will find important articles on Scriabin, Taneyev, Mussorgsky, and Stravinsky, as well as articles of the famous Russian-born Swiss musicologist Jacques Handschin. Indispensable for the Scriabin scholar is Muzika [Music] (Moskva 1910 - 1916). Muzika i zizn [Music and Life] played an important role in bringing art music to broader audiences.

A number of journals was published in Russia in languages other than Russian, as for example Russlands Musik-Zeitung [in German: Russia’s Music Newspaper] (St. Petersburg 1895 - 1898)

Please find here a List of all Russian journals in the Library’s microfiche collection

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Futurist periodicals and manifestos

This is a substantial collection of Futurist manifestos, journals - as the Malako Kabilits, the Futuristi etc.- and other publications, all first editions spanning from the year 1907 to 1915. The microfiche collection represents an indispensable tool for the study of Russian Futurism, one of the most original and fascinating 20th-century art- (viz. holistic) movements. One comes across all familiar or less so names of the Movement:

the great visionary Velimir Chlebnikov; A. Kruchenikh; Vladimir Mayakovsky; the poet K. Bolshakov and the artists Natalia Gonchareva and Mikhail Larionov.

Of special interest to musicologists is the chapter in Studiya Impressionistov (1910) written by N. Kulbin with the title: ‘Free Music: Results of the Application of the Theory of Artistic Creation to Music’. A snapshot from the introduction: ‘In the first articles on the theory of artistic creation I treated the capability it has to play the role of a magician’s stick, a key to the gates behind which an inexperienced happiness is hidden.’

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The Kasimir Malevitch Archive (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)

Kazimir Severinovich Malevich was born on February 11 (23) 1878 to parents of Polish origin in Kiev. His name appears for the first time in an exhibition catalogue at the fourteenth exhibition of the ‘Moscow Association of Artists’ (1907), together with the names of Vladimir Burliuk, Natalia Gonchareva, Mikhail Larionov (W. Kandinsky as well), with whom he would become intensively involved in the Futurist movement of the early 1910s. The last presentation of his works in the Soviet Union during his lifetimes is 1935, at the ‘First Exhibition of Leningrad Artists’ (the next will be in 1962). On May 15 of the same year Malevich dies after several months of illness.

Composer M. Matiushin, poet A. Kruchenikh, and K. Malevich in July 1913 (from Exhibition Catalogue Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935 (USSR Ministry of Culture / Stedelijk Museum, 1989?, p. 154)].

Malevich at the ‘Experimental Laboratory’ at the State Russian Museum of Leningrad, c. 1932 (from Exhibition Catalogue Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935 (USSR Ministry of Culture / Stedelijk Museum, 1989?, p. 83)

One of many "alogical" Futurists’ portraits, picturing Matiushin, Kruchenikh, and Malevich (from Exhibition Catalogue Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935 (USSR Ministry of Culture / Stedelijk Museum, 1989?, p. 76)

Two pages from the Malevich Archive: On the left the underlined word is ‘Suprematism’; on the right, Malevich tries out phrases in German as an exercise, rather failing to pass his own test, if one is to judge from this sample. The second paragraph reads: ‘I exhibit three groups of my work: the first group pictures, the second group architecture, third group scientific researches’; the page ends with: ‘Please give me a third-class ticket’.

From his early impressionistic and neo-primitivistic phase through the Kubo-futurism from 1913 -1914 to the Suprematism from 1915 - 1927 and the synthesis achieved in the portraits of his last years, Malevich is at the same time both a major source of influence to Russian and foreign artists as well as an active member of the intense artistic life (together with the Burliuk brothers, Gonchareva, Larionov, Koulbin, Chlebnikov, Kruchenikh, Mayakovsky etc.) in pre- and post-revolutionary Russia.

Today Malevich’s work is housed in the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam. The microfiche collection available in the L. Voudouri Library is copied after the manuscript Malevich Archive of the Stedelijk Museum. The Archive consists of 33 volumes (46 microfiches) and contains Malevich’s autobiographical notes, theoretical texts like his Notes on Architecture, press clippings with articles and photos, etc.

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The whole Card-Catalogue of the Scientific-Music Library of the ex- Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory

The foundation of the St. Petersburg and Moscow conservatories gave the final blow to the peculiarly Russian amateur-composers tradition (the last of whom were Mussorgsky and Borodin). The St. Petersburg Conservatory was officially founded in 1862 by Anton Rubinstein. Among the first students to conclude a full course -in December 1865- was P. I. Tchaikovsky. In its classes Rimsky-Korsakov’s pupils -among them Ottorino Respighi and Igor Stravinsky- were influenced by their teacher’s keenness for complicated harmonies, impulsive rhythm, rich instrumentation and folkloristic allusions. The St. Petersburg Conservatory Library Catalogue consists of the Manuscript Division (13 microfiches), the Book Division (33 microfiches), and the Printed Music Division (266 microfiches).

Panos Vlagopoulos

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Article ‘Periodicals’ by Imogen Fellinger in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 424-425
Article ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, IX, 1: Russian SFSR, Russian Art Music’ by Gerald Abraham in the New Grove etc., esp. pp. 383 - 384
edd. by W. A. L. Beeren and J. M. Joosten in collaboration with L. Veneman-Boersma, Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935 (USSR Ministry of Culture / Stedelijk Museum, 1989?)*

*Special thanks to Ms. Zachioti and the staff of the Library of the Athens School of Fine Arts for supplying this catalogue.

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