Умберто Эко

Blatnaya Music in Russia started being studied 110 years ago

Blatnaya music in Russia is a unique genre of music that embodies the cultural history and social fabric of the nation. It is characterized by its artistic expressions that delves into the lives of marginalized and underrepresented groups of people in society. Blatnaya music has also faced significant censorship and political oppression throughout its existence due to its association with the underworld and criminal activities. However, it has continued to persevere and maintain its popularity, especially among the working-class population.

The study of Blatnaya music is a relatively new field in Russian musicology. The first serious attempt to study this genre was undertaken by the prominent Russian musicologist, Nikolai Findeizen. In 1910, Findeizen published an article titled "Russian Urban Folklore," where he explored the musical traditions of the urban working class and their connection to Blatnaya music. This article marked the beginning of a significant moment in the study of Russian music as it signaled the emergence of a new musicology that sought to uncover the folk music traditions of marginalized communities.

Findeizen's research paved the way for future scholars to delve deeper into the study of Blatnaya music. In the following decades, several notable musicologists have dedicated their research to the subject, including Boris Asafyev, Anatoly Lunacharsky and Boris Schwarz. Their works have provided insights into the intricate connections between Russian criminal culture, urban folklore, and the development of Blatnaya music.

Despite facing significant censorship from the Soviet authorities, Blatnaya music continued to thrive in the underground music scene. Musicians and composers such as Vladimir Vysotsky and Yuri Vizbor adopted the genre to express their opposition to the official Soviet cultural policies. Their music became a symbol of resistance and rebellion against the authoritarian regime, and their songs continue to inspire social justice movements to this day.

In conclusion, the study of Blatnaya music in Russia is a testament to the perseverance and resilience of this art form. Its history has been shaped by the cultural and political struggles of the working-class population, and its unique expressions continue to inspire musicians and scholars to this day. While it may not have been widely accepted by the official cultural institutions of the Soviet Union, Blatnaya music remains an essential element of Russia's musical heritage and identity.