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16 December 2018

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Fall 2015

Fall 2015
Cover: Ilya Repin

Issue Theme: Musical Writing

6: Writing About Music
José Vergara
Any author who chooses to write about music faces an immense task. The most abstract of all arts, music forces the writer to put into words and descriptions – much more concrete things by comparison – its ephemeral nature. Writing about music is indeed a form of translation: it comes with its sacrifices, but it also opens up new perspectives that would otherwise remain undiscovered.

17: The Resurrection of Mozart
Nina Berberova
Berberova sets her haunting story in a France on the verge of invasion in 1940. The image of an unexpectedly resurrected Mozart represents the immortality of art and culture.
:: Translation by Marian Schwartz


42: Inevitably, Music
Boris Slutsky
:: Translation by Laurence Bogoslaw and Lydia Razran Stone

45: Sculpture, Painting and Music
Nikolai Gogol
Written in 1834 and published the next year in Gogol’s collection of essays Arabesques, this brief statement compares and ranks the three titular arts. Curiously, Gogol pays little attention to verbal art, focusing instead on the transcendent qualities he sees in music.
:: Translation by Deborah Hoffman


50: Chords
Konstantin Balmont
:: Translation by Lydia Razran Stone

53: The Sixth Night
Alexander Odoyevsky
This selection is taken from Russian Nights (1844), a novel by Odoyevsky that probes a great number of topics, genres, and philosophical questions. Odoyevsky was a talented music critic in his own right and a huge proponent of the works of Mikhail Glinka.
:: Translation by Olga Koshansky-Oleinikov and Ralph Matlaw


68: Beethoven
Nikolai Zabolotsky
:: Translation by Boris Dralyuk

71: Music
Vladimir Nabokov
In this short story, Nabokov’s protagonist, Victor, encounters his ex-wife at a concert. Despite his proclamation that he has “no ear for music,” the experience awakens profound memories and feelings in him, as the music acts a shield from the chaos of the everyday world.

79: Rothschild's Fiddle
Anton Chekhov
In this, one of Chekhov's last stories, a man nears the end of his life and finds that music is one of the few things that has ever given him comfort. And he uses it to make amends.
:: Translation by Marian Fell


93: The Tambourine of the Upper World
Victor Pelevin
With his early stories and novels, Pelevin established himself as one of Russia’s leading contemporary writers. “The Tambourine of the Upper World” showcases many of his usual themes and interests: social satire, mysticism, metaphysical border crossings, and upturned expectations.
:: Translation by Andrew Bromfield

Religion & Spirituality

109: My Beauty, Do Not Sing to Me
Alexander Pushkin
:: Translation by Lydia Razran Stone

111: Safe Conduct
Boris Pasternak
Before committing himself to poetry, Pasternak considered pursuing a career in music. In these early chapters from his memoir he recounts his early fascination with music and his relationship with the composer Alexander Scriabin.
:: Translation by Robert Payne


122: Spirit of Music
Boris Poplavsky
:: Translation by Boris Dralyuk

124: Song Short as Life
Bulat Okudzhava
:: Translation by Lydia Razran Stone and Vladimir Kovner

126: The Song
Isaac Babel
Babel’s “The Song” comes from his Red Cavalry cycle, a volume of short stories about the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921). As in many of these pieces, Babel contrasts the narrator’s intellectual, poetic outlook with the brutalities and horrors of war.
:: Translation by Peter Constantine


130: Silver Night
Afanasy Fet
:: Translation by Laurence Bogoslaw and Lydia Razran Stone