Chapter Eight


Perestroika (1985—1991)


The new politics of Mikhail Gorbachev from 1985 on, featuring increased openness and transparency (Glasnost’) and reorganization (Perestroika) had soon repercussions on the arts, including the music scene. In clarinet music, the amount of works was increasing considerably. New music ensembles were established, and it became easier to perform new music openly, without having to be afraid of negative influences from the official side. Along with Perestroika, several Soviet republics reinforced their striving for independence, such as the Baltic countries. The overall climate of change captured Eastern Europe, also intensifying artistic contacts abroad: the cultural exchange increased and performances outside the Soviet Union became more common, along with a growing number of visits by foreign artists to the Soviet Union (Hakobian 2017, 268).


New Directions

As soon as the official ban of contemporary music was lifted, new music became
noticeably more popular in the second half of the 1980s. Composers and musicians who had been active in the field of new music before took active advantage of the possibility to present their work openly and to larger audiences, at home and abroad. Edison Denisov, together with the young composers Vladimir Tarnopolsky (see 8.2) and Yury Kasparov (see 12.3), in 1989 founded the so-called Second ASM (Association for Contemporary Music 2, referring to the first ASM, Assotsiatsiya Sovremennoy Muzyki, from 1923) (Hakobian 2017, 268). Thanks to their efforts, in the Moscow Conservatory the Centre for Contemporary Music was founded, and the Studio for New Music Ensemble, led by Tarnopolsky, has since been performing and promoting contemporary compositions. The new avant-garde has opened up a future direction for the coming generation of post-Soviet composers.



In the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, clarinet music has developed in a slightly different way than in the other parts of the former Soviet Union. Remote from the political and cultural centers of St Petersburg and Moscow, some composers turned to specific subjects (for example, related to nature or to religion) and created their own musical voices. The striving for independence in the Baltic countries went along with the rise of concern for environmental problems. The clarinet quintet by Maija Einfelde from 1986 is exemplary for this movement: Mournful Serenades - Three Songs for the Dying Sea (see 8.7). Even before Perestroika, Baltic composers wrote some experimental works for the clarinet. One special example is Moments Musicaux by Peteris Vasks (1977). Vasks extends the sound spectrum of the clarinet and the expression possibilities even beyond real, played notes. He asks the clarinetist-performer to produce various kinds of unusual sounds: to play on the mouthpiece alone, on the clarinet without mouthpiece, with the sounds of the keys only, speaking into the instrument and producing air sounds. Since the end of the Soviet Union the national music information centers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have made a significant contribution to inventory and to promote the classical music of their countries. [1] These websites also provide a wealth of information on clarinet compositions. So far, however, not all compositions have been published, and there are some highly interesting clarinet works to explore further.

[1] (Estonia), (Latvia), (Lithuania)