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"We should not sing of heaven and angels": Western Sacred Music in Soviet Russia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Music Censorship
EditorsPatricia Hall
Place of PublicationNew York
Publisher or commissioning bodyOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780199733163
DateAccepted/In press - 2011
DateE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jan 2015
DatePublished (current) - 30 Nov 2017


This chapter examines the changing ways in which Western sacred music was performed in concerts at major cultural centers in Russia during the period 1917–1964. It first considers early Soviet policy on Western sacred works including the repertoire of the Leningrad State Academic Capella, led by Mikhail Klimov who served as conductor and director from 1918 through 1935. The chapter goes on to assess the impact of both the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians in the late 1920s and the effect of Stalinism in the 1930s and 40s. Finally, it comments on the preservation of part of Johann Sebastian Bach’s a capella legacy by setting the music to Soviet texts.

    Research areas

  • Western sacred music, concerts, Russia, Vladimir Lenin, Leningrad State Academic Capella, Mikhail Klimov, Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians, Stalinism, Cultural Revolution, Johann Sebastian Bach

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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Oxford Handbooks at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 323 KB, PDF document


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