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Colloquium Vossius Center | Guest speaker is Nikita Braguinski 23 september | 15:30 | Room 3.01, Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16

Event details of Music as Science. The American Career of the Soviet Avant-Garde Research on Mathematical Aesthetics
Date 23 September 2021
Time 15:30 -00:00

During the early years of the Soviet rule, between 1917 and 1928, research into the formal, often mathematical, aspects of all arts was widely supported by the new state. Several research institutions were formed, bringing together for the first time the work on formal aesthetics that has been slowly emerging internationally since the turn of the 20th century. The focus of this new research was to create an objective, positivist foundation for the arts.
Among the early Soviet adherents of mathematical aesthetics, Joseph Schillinger (1895-1943) was one of the most intriguing figures. Originally a member of the Russian avant-garde, Schillinger later emigrated to the USA, becoming there a prominent mentor of American musicians. In this process, he, curiously, also imported the avant-garde mathematical methods into the world of American popular music.
This not only saved the legacy of early Soviet avant-garde aesthetics research from destruction at the hands of the new Stalinist culture of traditionalism, but also made available to the American audience the abstract and mathematical methods of teaching that were prominent in Soviet art education.
My talk will illuminate this transfer of discourses between science, artistic theory, and, finally, practice, showcasing a rich intellectual history that transgresses multiple historical, political, and geographic boundaries.