At the Crossroads of Traditions: Austria and Russia in the Creative Destiny of V. Martin у Soler

Irina A. Kryazheva


The article discusses the key role of Austria and Russia in the creative development of the Spanish composer Vicente Martín y Soler, who was engaged in the transformation of the opera buffa as a genre. The study applies comparative historical and social contextual analysis, which allows to reveal certain similarities in distribution and popularization of Martín y Soler’s music, its penetration into everyday musical culture of Vienna and St. Petersburg. The article highlights the importance of lyrical and pastoral imagery aimed to please the amateur audience. It focuses on various distribution channels including handwritten materials, published scores and transcriptions for voice and keyboards, different sets of instruments for domestic music-making, transcriptions, and variations on popular themes. A peculiar approach to popularization is a serious reworking of opera music at times resulting in change of the very essence of the genre, for example, the publication or distribution of handwritten materials in the form of dances. The article scrutinizes the productions of popular operas (“A Rare Thing” and “The Tree of Diana”) in national languages staged in Vienna and in St. Petersburg. Thanks to free libretto translations, popular works absorbed the features of each national culture and reflected local realities. In Austria, they resemble the singspiel and in Russia –  laid the foundations for the development of Russian comic opera. The article provides an overview of some handwritten materials of the Yusupov collection (National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg) which includes a range of transcriptions. This provides evidence that Russian aristocracy showed a genuine interest in Martín y Soler’s music.

The article is a first attempt of a comparative analysis of the two most famous operas of the Spanish composer as regards their public perception in Austria and Russia in the 1780s-90s. The study allowed to conclude that these countries have similar patterns in the use and the distribution of the composer’s music.

Keywords: opera buffa, Vienna, Petersburg, transcriptions, musical life, popularization, musical perception

For citation: Kryazheva I. A. At the Crossroads of Traditions: Austria and Russia in the Creative Destiny of V. Martin у Soler [Electronic source]. In: Sovremennye problemy muzykoznaniya / Contemporary Musicology, 2019, no. 2, pp. 2–12. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.56620/2587-9731-2019-2-002-012


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Copyright (c) 2019 Irina A. Kryazheva

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