10. AFTER 1991 - Clarinet Music from Russia and the Soviet Union 1917-1991
During the first years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the music scene underwent fundamental changes. Along with the liberty and new opportunities, composers and musicians faced a radical decrease of State subsidies for the arts, including in music. A large part of the members of the Second ASM (Association for Contemporary Music 2, see Chapter 8), such as Firsova, Smirnov, Tchemberdji and Gubaidulina, as well as other composers and musicians emigrated around the end of the Soviet period. Those composers who stayed in Russia, such as Kasparov and Tarnopolsky, had to find alternative ways to keep performance possibilities for their new works. Despite the changed circumstances, a large and diverse repertory was composed for the clarinet in the 1990s in Russia and the former member states of the USSR, but this repertoire goes beyond the borders of this research project.
From the point of view of the clarinet repertoire, the consequences of these changes are manifold. On the one hand, new works by composers from Russia and former Soviet Republics became more widespread in established publishing companies worldwide and easier for the performer to order the sheet music. On the other hand, the availability of a majority of the sheet music from the Soviet time stayed complicated. In some cases the availability became even more difficult because some major publishing companies bought the complete rights to the works from certain composers from the Soviet period. But not all publishers have made the effort to promote the publicity of those works, or even just to make them available. Only selected works were edited and republished in qualitative editions. A large part of the repertoire is threatened to vanish into oblivion in the publishers’ archives. These works are caught in a vicious circle: the compositions are not available, so there are no performances and little interest among performers. As there is no request from the side of performers, the publishers see no need to make new editions. Even more problematic are those works which were published in the Soviet State editions and not adopted by any publisher: they are available occasionally in Russian libraries and private collections, but unless they are republished in some way, they are not broadly accessible for interested performers. The most challenging aspect is the field of Russian archives, where definitely a treasure of forgotten and undiscovered works awaits rediscovery. The Baltic countries have given an example of excellent practice by establishing national music information centers, by conserving, appreciating, promoting and doing research on their musical heritage. Hopefully, more former Soviet republics will establish national music information centers and make their composers’ works and further information internationally accessible to a broader public – desirably even with translations to English.
Concerning clarinet education and performance, some major changes took place in the years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Clarinet students started to use increasingly new opportunities to study abroad – entirely or for exchange periods – adopting clarinet performance styles, from contemporary playing techniques to awareness of historically informed performance (HIP), for example. Lastly, the easier availability of diverse clarinet material, such as instruments, mouthpieces, and reeds, made it possible to address performers’ individual choices and needs. The rise of the internet, with its wide possibility to listen to a large variety of actual and historical performances, for many clarinetists reinforced the possibility of finding one’s own style of playing, sound colour and techniques. The percentage of female clarinetists has been growing increasingly, though gender balance is still a long way off, especially concerning leading positions. The younger generation of clarinet players from Russia and the former Soviet Republics appears, for example, to be very successful in international competitions. It is hoped that the post-Soviet generation can also recapture the values of clarinet literature from their own countries, awakening interest in discovering and sharing their heritage, despite the possible critical voices and negative associations connected to the time period in which this clarinet music was created.