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Pasternak and Tchaikovsky: Musical Echoes in Pasternak's Blind Beauty

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Russian composer Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky had a profound impact on Russia's cultural consciousness. This is particularly true of Boris Pasternak, who in his late correspondence mentioned Tchaikovsky among the composers he most admired. As other scholars have noted, one can see a number of references to Tchaikovsky and his work in Pasternak's prose and poetry. This essay eamines a previously overlooked link between the work of Tchaikovsky and Pasternak: the presence of Tchaikovsky's last opera, Iolanta, as a subtext to Pasternak's last work, his unfinished play The Blind Beauty. Aspects of the opera can be seen in the plot, symbolic structure, and language of Pasternak's play. The enlightenment and cure of Tchaikovsky's blind heroine, Iolanta, are reflected in the suffering and healing of Pasternak’s much more humble heroine, who personifies Pasternak's hope for the redemption of Russia. This Tchaikovsky opera is foremost among several of his compositions that played a role in the conception of Pasternak’s final work; the network of Tchaikovsky subtexts confirms the significance of Iolanta to Pasternak.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-05-01

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