Home Slovenská hudba 2023 Slovenská hudba, Vol. 49, No 1, p.34-50, 2023

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Slovenská hudba, Vol. 49, No 1, p.34-50, 2023

Title: „Do krajších dní“. Slovenská zborová a kantátová tvorba v službách propagandy po februári 1948
Author: Branko Ladi

Abstract: “To the More Beautiful Days”
The Slovak Choral and Cantata Work in the Service of Propaganda after February 1948
The political changes in 1948 brought about unprecedented interventions in the development of the Slovak culture. Soon the new regime theoretically formulated its concept of culture and established the only one approved tendency – socialist realism and its single tolerated way of artistic expression. The relatively young Slovak music, which had been developing tumultuously especially since the second half of the 1930s, was fundamentally affected by it. The variability of styles and forms was restricted, the creative approaches in use were extremely simplified. This in fact denied the previous development and the principles of acculturation, which had been essential for the Slovak music since its origination. The most extreme opinions even regarded the inspirations by the Slovak folk music as outdated, which again contradicted the principle of self-realization. The return to the devices of Romanticism and simple forms was required. The following forms dominated: a committed solo song following the pattern of the so-called mass songs from the Soviet overproduction; choral works; creation of cantatas due to their impressiveness (choir with orchestra). The ideological pressure was so strong that even the members of the oldest compositional generation started to cultivate these forms. Commited choirs were written by Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský, firmly entrenched in the church musical tradition for all of his life, Frico Kafenda, whose work was based on German Romanticism and who returned to music composition after a 30-year-long break, and Alexander Albrecht, the prominent Bratislava composer, who was ethnically and musically joined with Bratislava’s traditional German-Hungarian environment. The committed choral work was dealt with by representatives of the Slovak music modernism, too. For the turn of the 1950s the creation of the so-called folk cantatas, vocal-instrumental works whose aim was to impress the wide masses with relatively simple means and extensive performing forces, was typical. The first of that kind of compositions was the Salutation to Stalin by Ján Cikker (1949), followed in quick succession with pieces by Andrej Očenáš (Song about the Communist Party), Šimon Jurovský (Cantata on Gottwald) and Dezider Kardoš (Peace Cantata). In these works despite frequent usage of traditional means in development of music material and form (traditional arch form, contrapuntal devices), a gradual simplification takes place, leading to the “strophic” cantata based on song, periodicity, employment of homophony, all in pursuit of the best comprehensibility and communicativeness for the musically undemanding listeners. This tendency resulted in a significant slowing of the musical progress. The highly undevelopmental concept of the socialist realism triggered an overall stagnation, suppression of creative individuality, as well as of the diversity and multifariousness of Slovak music.

Keywords: Slovak music; acculturation; self-realization; socialist realism; committed song; choral work; folk cantata
Published online: 03-Apr-2023
Year: 2023, Volume: 49, Issue: 1 Page From: 34, Page To: 50

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