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Sviridov "Time Forward"' The Worst Piece of Music Ever??

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Author Topic: Sviridov "Time Forward"' The Worst Piece of Music Ever??  (Read 290 times)
Neil McGowan
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« on: October 02, 2016, 01:54:52 am »

'Time, Forward!" was a Socialist Realist novel by the author Valentin Katayev, written in 1933. The story may sound an improbable hit, but it was hugely successful in its day. The story is about a group of cement-factory workers in Magnitogorsk - who hear that workers in Kharkov have set a new record for mixing cement. The workers are determined that they will smash that record - by an admixture of gritty determination, hard work, and new technological innovations.  This very two-dimensional material is enticed into life with some neat screenplay - the conflict between the shock workers and the technologists (who finally resolve their differences in the interest of breaking the record, and come to respect each other), and a journalist from Moscow, who is regarded with deep suspicion.

Full film version of "Time, Forward!" on YouTube.

The popular book, which embraced laudable principles of hard work and achievement for the nation, was made into a feature film in 1965. The music for the entire film was by Sviridov, whose music was calculated to establish the heroism and determination shown by the men. (The film version of the story removed a subplot with an American tourist, and introduced a love-on-the-factory-floor theme, with a female artist who paints socialist realist posters at the factory). Sviridov arranged the concert version of his film music somewhat later - stripping out the lyrical elements in the film score entirely. For most audiences, it was hardly "concert-hall music" at all, but simply the "big tune" from a blockbuster movie. Sviridov's music for the film needs to be heard this light.

If the name of Valentin Katayev rings a very distant bell, you're right - he went on to be the librettist for Prokofiev's opera SEMYON KOTKO. He came from a family of Odessa intellectuals, who were more than usually productive in the world of soviet literature.  His younger brother wrote under the name of Petrov (his maternal surname), to avoid confusion with his elder brother.  His writing partnership with Ilya Ilf produced a straight run of smash-hit comedy 'Ilf & Petrov' novels - The Twelve Chairs, The Golden Calf, and Single-Storey America - which have retained their popularity to this day.  'The Twelve Chairs' has probably contributed more memorable 'one-liners' than any other Russian book of the 20th century...  "I haven't eaten for three days!" "Well, you must force yourself!" etc.
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