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Page history last edited by Louis Bergonzi 10 years, 1 month ago

Essential Questions & Information about Kamarinskaya:

What cultural and historical facts to do we know about the song?

Though the title of the piece suggests otherwise, Glinka’s Kamarinskaya is actually based on two folk melodies. The first does it occur first in the piece? is “Izza gor,” which means “From beyond the mountains.” It is a slow bridal song. The second is “Kamarinskaya.” The Kamarinskaya is a “naigrish,” or instrumental dance with an ostinato melody repeated over and over for as long as the dancers can keep up. So.....


Glinka did not write Kamarinskaya out of a sense of or obligation to nationalism. He was actually greatly affected at the time by Berlioz’s work. Due to Berlioz’s influence, Glinka decided to write orchestral music with?? different national characteristics. Glinka wrote two “Spanish” pieces before writing Kamarinskaya: “Jota Aragonesa” and “Recuerdos de Castilla.” He then wrote Kamarinskaya in the “Russian” style. In fact, (WELL PUT:  Glinka himself stated that Kamarinskaya was nothing more than “picturesque music,” and that “in this case the national element lends no more than local color.” Glinka only used folksongs for their “typical nature.”


Many western musicians speak of Russian music as having a sort of “Russiannes,” or as being “very Russian.” Western people will also give titles to Russian composers, such as “the most Russian composer.” People will even say that someone is or isn’t playing a piece “Russian enough.” This habit of reducing Russian art music to lazy, prejudiced sayings correlates with many people reducing Russian art music to simply having sources in folk song and church chant.


Glinka is often said to be “the founding father of Russian music” because of his use of folklore. Further, it is often said that Glinka left Western music culture behind because of his use of Russian folklore. However, there were composers before Glinka that used Russian folklore in their music. For example, Verstovsky, Matinsky, and Pashkevich quoted folklore in their operas. This view has started to change, and there was even an article written which was entitled “The Influence of Folk-Song on Russian Opera Up to and Including the Time of Glinka,” in which the author turns Glinka into an indigenous son, rather than a founding father. However, Glinka being seen as a son is not really correct, either. Glinka really is a founding father; just not of Russian music. He was a father because he was the first Russian composer to become internationally known. As previously stated, he joined the Western art music tradition of stealing other styles and creating (falsely) representative styles of other culture’s music though his education of the Western music culture and subsequent composing of Western art music.terrific para but i think it belongs here. 



What is the song like when sounded by traditional instruments/voices?see my separate doc.

Glinka changed the original folk songs in this piece by with different instrumentation and Western influences, so have other changes in the folk songs occurred over time. There are recordings below of performers playing Kamarinskaya on Balalaikas: most likely an instrument the song was originally played on. The origins of the Balalaika are really unknown. It may have been modified from ancient European, Egyptian, or Arabian instruments. It is later placed in a lineage of instruments shared by the Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians. The Balalaika is known in Western culture as the “foremost Russian instrument.”(ADD source) However, the Balalaika did not actually gain popularity and widespread dissemination until the Soviet period, when nationalistic ideas from the government caused a huge increase in the teaching of folk music and instruments. Many composers have since written for the Balalaika in small ensembles and with orchestras.


However, other instruments of Arabic-Western culture have been added, and there are other Western ideas included in the recordings. Some videos have dancers, as the dance would have originally called for. Further, there are some videos of Glinka’s Kamarinskaya, and of other ensembles playing even more versions of the song. I was unfortunately unable to find recordings of the original “Izza Gor” folk song. 


How is the song taught traditionally?

I was unfortunately unable to find out how the original Kamarinskaya or Izza Gor folk songs were taught. However, I did usually find that Russian folk music was primarily taught without notation; being passed on aurally from generation to generation.


How does the song live today for the people of and from that culture?

    1. What does Kamarinskaya mean for people who live in Korea today?


    1. What does Kamarinskaya mean to people from Russia or people whose families are from Russia who live in our community today?


With Glinka’s rise to international renown, Russian musicians were then “enfranchised.” Whereas their music had previously been marginalized by the West, it was now raised up. However, it was not necessarily raised up in a good way: it was rather exoticized. 


Thus, this piece could be placed into more than one culture. I believe that it falls more into the Western culture because of the previous information. This is despite the fact that many Westerners here and abroad view Glinka as the first authentically national Russian composer – as not part of the Western art culture.But isn’t nationalism is a Western art music history? 


There are some in the Western art music tradition who have studied the matter and realize that Glinka’s Kamarinskaya is not authentically Russian, and rather more Western. sounds like this case is easy to make that it is a Western piece. However, whether Westerner’s have been educated on the matter or not, the ideas behind how to perform the piece are most likely rather similar. It is played in the Western-art music style.


However, it could be said that Glinka’s Kamarinskaya still has roots in Russian art music. Those Russian composers and peoples who have been educated on the matter view him as the first “universal genius of music to have come from Russia.” However, for both the people in Russia and Russian familes who have moved here, those who do not know what went on in Glinka’s compositional process might still believe that it was a truly national piece that kept to Russian folk-music traditions. is there cause-and-effect here? so you could say: In part, this was a viewpoint most likely championed by the USSR. They might like the idea of using dance or original instrumentation with the piece, as was tradition with the folk songs Glinka stole. However, many other composers and people of Russian probably realize that this orchestra overture or encore composition is not of the Russian orchestral? folks? style at all.


Every composer brings the culture he or she has been educated in into their compositions, and Glinka and other composers at the time were educated in multiple cultures. Maybe what really happened was that Glinka and the other composers around him at the time formed a new culture that was a mix of both Western and Russian styles? People and culture are alive, growing, and changing. Thus, Kamarinskaya has been as well as it is a product of people and culture< —-which make the other?.


How we can play the piece in a way that illustrates what we’ve learned about how a person can reflect and respect a piece and the people who own it and think it important?


Our students must of course be educated on the various viewpoints of people around the world who have different ideas regarding the culture of this piece. I would let them choose which cultural viewpoint to go with, or have them perform it in multiple ways showing different cultural interpretations. For example, my students could decide that Glinka’s Kamarinskaya is more from Russian art-music than from Western tradition. Therefore, they could add some traditional instruments such as the Balalaika and dancers would it be G’s piece? . My students could also perform the piece as it is exactly written, as is mostly the tradition in Western art music. 


Video Sources



Glinka’s Kamarinskaya



Played on the Balalaika with other instruments



Red army, yet a different instrumentation



another dance version



Orchestra, once again with balalaika



glinka’s setting, with animation



Played by a Russian band



Another written by Tchaikovsky


Print Sources


Maes, Francis. A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar. University of California Press, 2006.


Website Sources

Kiszko, Martin. “The Balalaika – A Reappraisal” The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 48, March 1995. http://www.jstor.org.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/stable/842807


Taruskin, Richard. “Some Thoughts on the History and Historiography of Russian Music” The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1984. http://www.jstor.org/stable/763585



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