Dialogo della Musica Antica et della Moderna, Take 2: “The Old” at the Roots of the Early 20th-Century Modernism
Co-sponsored by the Center for Russian and East European Studies
Any traditional definition of modernism in the arts inevitably involves an artist’s belief in the notion of progress, and his/her desire to invest in and reflect the fluid, continuously changing contemporary world – to be, in Baudelaire’s words, “a painter of modern life.” So why does one of the most iconic images of pictorial modernism, Picasso’s 1907 Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, showcase the artist’s study of the ancient African tribal masks, while a shining beacon of musical modernism, Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps of 1913, is a series of “scenes from pagan Rus” created in collaboration with an archeologist? Using specific examples from the visual arts, literature, philosophy, music, and theater, this paper will explore the “ancient” roots of modernist aesthetics in early 20th-century Russia and elsewhere, in an attempt to come to terms with a peculiar obsession of “the new” with “the old.”
Olga Haldey received her PhD from Ohio State University in 2002, and is currently Assistant Professor of musicology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Haldey is a specialist in Russian music after 1800, with a particular interest in opera production, early modernist philosophy and aesthetic, Igor Stravinsky, and the Soviet music after 1945. She is an author of Mamontov’s Private Opera: The Search for Modernism in Russian Theater (Indiana University Press, 2010), and has published in Journal of Musicology, Verdi Forum, and Opera Journal.