Muzikologija 2005 Volume , Issue 5, Pages: 85-99
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Symbolism and theatre of masques: The deathly carnival of la belle époque
The junction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Europe sharpened the clash of artistic novelties in the Western and Slavonic worlds, caused by developed Symbolism and Expressionism. As an output of the former reappeared in the "Jahrhundertwende" the transformed characters of the Commedia dell'arte, flourished in art, literature and music in Italy France, Austria and Russia. Exponents of Italian Renaissance theatre Stravinsky's Petrushka (1911) and Schönberg's Pierrot lunaire (1912) turned soon to be main works of the Russian and Austrian expressionistic music style, inaugurated by Strauss's Salome, which won opera stages from the 1905 on. Influences of the latter were widespread and unexpected, reaching later the "remote" areas of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as the Balkans (in 1907 the Canadian dancer Maud Allan performed The Vision of Salome in Belgrade - music Marcel Remy - making her debut in Vienna 1903). Compositions of Strauss and Schönberg (Erwartung included) reflected also the strong cult of death present in Vienna's Finde-siècle Symbolism concerning among other works plays by Wedekind and Schnitzler (Veil of Pierrette was staged successfully in Russia, too), with prototypes in Schumann's Carnival and Masquerade by Lermontov (both works written in 1834!). It was not by chance that Schumann's piano suite became one of the first ballets of Diaghilev's Saisons Russes (1910) and Masquerade, performed with the incidental music by Alexander Glazunov, the last pre-revolutionary piece of Vsevolod Meyerhold (1917).
Keywords: commedia dell'arte, symbolism, expressionism, street theatre, Finde-siècle
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