52 min documentary
PREMIERED 21 JULY 2001
Repeated: 4 and 11 December 2002; Sunday 18 April 2004; and Sunday 7 June 2009.

As the curtain drops on the tumultuous twentieth century we are able to look back upon the winding path of its artistic history from the elevated vantage point of 2000. From our high ground some of the paths appear more circuitous than others, as history folds back on itself in a myriad of themes and variations. Russia is such a case, catapulted, as it was, from feudalism to emancipation and socialism, missing out the Enlightenment, capitalism, and only recently emerging, blinking and bewildered into the harsh clearing of free market economics and perestroika.

If we accept that the Artist can be the social equivalent of the coal miner's canary, then we are likely to discover much about what it meant to be caught in this turbulent century in Russia, by examining the prodigious output of her artists at key points in the last 140 years. Specifically, we will focus on her composers, with brief forays into the fine arts, for music is that most abstract and international of Arts and inherently, a fascinating battleground between the real world and the artist's conscience. A reflection of historical, cultural and technological developments, as Lenin acknowledged.

What is "Russian" or "Soviet" composition? Where are its origins? Is it to be defined by the terrible impositions it has suffered in our century; its very struggle for existence, by the pressures brought to bear on her composers? It has been written that "the art of no other country is so heavily fraught with subtexts." Art in Russia has become inextricable from the life and soul of her people.

Directed, Edited & Filmed by Adam Sebire.

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