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Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

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  • Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

    An interesting passage from Richard Taruskin's Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions:

    "...Alexander Spendiarov [was] an Armenian from the Crimea who in Soviet times was elevated to the status of 'founder' of his people's 'national' classical music on the model of traditional Russian orientalism."

    As many of us know, the Yerevan Opera is still named after Spendiarov (whose name is Armenianized into Spendiaryan). Most of the Armenians who built Soviet Armenia were born outside of its territory, primarily in cities located in modern Russia:

    Nikolai Bayev, architect (born in Astrakhan, Russia)
    Romanos Melikian, composer (born in Kizlyar, Russia)
    Martiros Sarian, artist (born in Nor Nakhichevan, Rostov-on-Don, Russia)
    Alexander Tamanian, architect (born in Yekaterinodar, Russia)

    Now I don't mean to take away anything from the contributions of these well-educated and highly qualified individuals (hell, we could use some of these guys today), but there's a kind of artificiality about the endeavor. But then Armenians were among the most dispersed of the Soviet Union's "nationalities" so I suppose it makes sense.

  • #2
    Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

    Artificial my vor. This is like saying the Armenian NT is fake because it has players who are not born in Armenia. This line of reasoning is as senseless today as it was back then.
    Hayastan or Bust.

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    • #3
      Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

      Originally posted by TomServo View Post
      An interesting passage from Richard Taruskin's Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions:
      Now I don't mean to take away anything from the contributions of these well-educated and highly qualified individuals (hell, we could use some of these guys today), but there's a kind of artificiality about the endeavor. But then Armenians were among the most dispersed of the Soviet Union's "nationalities" so I suppose it makes sense.
      Any idea what the population of Armenia was in 1933 ????
      Sardarabad,1918.

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      • #4
        Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

        The republic was in shambles in the early years of Sovietization. Hell, things were probably even worse before. Armenian independence and the first republic was proclaimed in Tiflis, after all.
        Last edited by TomServo; 08-09-2013, 07:20 AM.

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        • #5
          Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

          Originally posted by Haykakan View Post
          Artificial my vor. This is like saying the Armenian NT is fake because it has players who are not born in Armenia. This line of reasoning is as senseless today as it was back then.
          "As it was back then"? Are you saying there was opposition to this Russo-Armenian led project from nativists?

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          • #6
            Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

            Originally posted by TomServo View Post
            "As it was back then"? Are you saying there was opposition to this Russo-Armenian led project from nativists?
            No. I am saying that it seems you are branding their achievements as artificial because they were not done in Armenia by Armenians born in Armenia and that this is not a fair assessment. If you meant something else then you may want to restatewhat you mean by "artificiality".
            Hayastan or Bust.

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            • #7
              Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

              Originally posted by TomServo View Post
              An interesting passage from Richard Taruskin's Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions:

              "...Alexander Spendiarov [was] an Armenian from the Crimea who in Soviet times was elevated to the status of 'founder' of his people's 'national' classical music on the model of traditional Russian orientalism."

              As many of us know, the Yerevan Opera is still named after Spendiarov (whose name is Armenianized into Spendiaryan). Most of the Armenians who built Soviet Armenia were born outside of its territory, primarily in cities located in modern Russia:

              Nikolai Bayev, architect (born in Astrakhan, Russia)
              Romanos Melikian, composer (born in Kizlyar, Russia)
              Martiros Sarian, artist (born in Nor Nakhichevan, Rostov-on-Don, Russia)
              Alexander Tamanian, architect (born in Yekaterinodar, Russia)

              Now I don't mean to take away anything from the contributions of these well-educated and highly qualified individuals (hell, we could use some of these guys today), but there's a kind of artificiality about the endeavor. But then Armenians were among the most dispersed of the Soviet Union's "nationalities" so I suppose it makes sense.
              Most places in Armenia were villages,Yerevan was almost just a big village, Alexandropol was mostly to do with trade - none were places where higher education or culture naturally flourished. You would no more expect architects or composers or artists to be from there than you would expect them to be from some Wild West town in America!

              Anyone who wanted a more advanced education would have had to leave and study in Russia proper, and so those who already were living in Russia had an immediate advantage over the native Armenians in getting that education.

              Originally posted by TomServo View Post
              "As it was back then"? Are you saying there was opposition to this Russo-Armenian led project from nativists?
              I'm sure there would have been some. Look at how Komitas (from Constantinople) was hindered at every turn by the "native" clergy. And the professionalisation of industry, with the requirement for training and qualifications, would have made many amongst the native population become suddenly underqualified to do the things that had formerly given them a high status in society.
              Plenipotentiary meow!

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              • #8
                Re: Russian Orientalism and the Building of Soviet Armenia

                Originally posted by bell-the-cat View Post
                Most places in Armenia were villages,Yerevan was almost just a big village, Alexandropol was mostly to do with trade - none were places where higher education or culture naturally flourished. You would no more expect architects or composers or artists to be from there than you would expect them to be from some Wild West town in America!

                Anyone who wanted a more advanced education would have had to leave and study in Russia proper, and so those who already were living in Russia had an immediate advantage over the native Armenians in getting that education.
                Yeah, but all of the aforementioned individuals were born within Russia and not Armenia (or any of the traditionally Armenian oblasts of the empire).

                But you're right about Yerevan and Alexandropol. The intelligentsia was based in Tiflis. Poor Armenians probably thought Tiflis and Baku were going to be "Russian" forever.

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