Chapter One


About the Research Project


The title of the doctoral research project is “Clarinet Music from Russia and the Soviet Union 1917–1991: Discovering an Unexplored Side of the Clarinet Repertoire”. The starting point for this study is the fact that nowadays very few clarinet compositions from the former Soviet Union are well-known and performed regularly. There is no comprehensive repertoire list or specialized information available. Though there is a vast array of highly detailed research activity in other fields of Russian/Soviet Music studies as well as on other aspects of clarinet music, scholarly research has not been carried out yet on this specific topic concerning Soviet clarinet music.

In this study, I address questions such as what is the existing repertoire in this field, and why is it not better known.  What are the possible reasons that prevent these compositions from being heard on stage? My research focuses on artistic questions, such as what kind of clarinet music has been composed and which aesthetic qualities and creative potential it demonstrates. I explore the possible significance of these compositions for performers in a present-day context. To what extent can this repertoire, or parts of it, form added value to the standard clarinet repertoire, and how can it be used as enrichment for concert programs? 


Why Russian/Soviet Clarinet Music?

This project aims to close the research gap on Russian/Soviet clarinet music and to enhance the knowledge and accessibility of this repertoire. This can serve professional musicians as well as music students as researchers. In my doctoral concerts, numerous works were performed for the first time in Finland with the aim of augmenting the prevailing concert repertoire. My personal aims have been to develop as a musician-researcher and as a performer through this project, to broaden my artistic and intellectual horizons, develop musical judgment skills, as well as to gain valuable new insights into the clarinet repertoire in general. By means of practice-based research, this survey aims to open a broader discussion on Soviet clarinet music. My ambition is to treat artistic and research approaches to the topic as one homogeneous entity.


Research Area

My research area is defined by the following criteria: All included works were composed between 1917 and 1991, from the Russian Revolution until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Full years are counted, as the exact date or the month of a composition may be unknown. The main focus lies on clarinet works composed in Russia, especially from Moscow and St Petersburg. Included are also compositions from the other former Soviet Republics, but only from the years that the country was part of the USSR.

Certain clarinet works are also included by composers who were born in one of the above-mentioned countries but emigrated. The main criteria for including émigré-composers are the date of emigration (especially during and after the Revolution), and a strong cultural connection to the country of birth, for example through higher musical education or professional work in the Soviet Union. However, the scope of émigré-composers is far too wide to be treated in this study more than in a fragmentary manner. Foreign-born composers can be included in case they were living and working in the Soviet Union, such as the Polish-born composer Mieczysław Weinberg. 

The research treats only compositions for the clarinet. The main focus is on
works for solo clarinet, clarinet with piano, and chamber music for clarinet with strings, with or without piano, for up to six players. The clarinet plays a main role in these compositions. Clarinet concertos and chamber music instrumentations other than the above-mentioned, such as wind quintets, are included in the database but not in the doctoral concerts. Pedagogical works are included in the database to a minor extent. The research focus is on works from classical music composed by professional composers and for concert performance purposes. 


Structure of the Research Project

The doctoral research project consists of a series of five doctoral concerts with
Russian/Soviet clarinet compositions and a thesis presented in the form of this website. The thesis is divided into an introductory section, three main parts and my conclusions. Part One, On the Five Doctoral Concerts, gives an overview of the concert programs, their thematic concepts, topics and artistic purposes. Part Two, A Performer´s Approach to Russian/Soviet Clarinet Music, is devoted to the examination of the clarinet repertoire from the former Soviet Union, subdivided chronologically and thematically. Artistic aspects of the selected works which I performed in my doctoral concerts are examined from the viewpoint of a clarinetist. The compositions are embedded in a wider, historical, context and complemented with short video excerpts from the concert performances. Part Three, the Composition Database, contains information on over 500 works with the clarinet in various instrumentations from the field of research. The division of the thesis into three parts was made to emphasize the essence of carrying out research as an artist-researcher, including performing and interpreting, contextualization and analysis, as well as to disseminate the material.