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V. Vinogradov, researcher of traditional ethnic music of Central Asia, noted: «Programmatic key is the soul of instrumental music of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. The performer is always playing «about someone or something», and he would always answer a question why the piece was created. Naturally, this programmatic key can be expressed in different ways. There are primitive pieces with naturalistic imitation of the sounds of nature, animal cries and human voices; and there more complex pieces inspired by various life stories and themes. Sometimes the programmatic concept is expressed in a laconic title of symbolic meaning.» (1, p. 110)

Identification of a genre or a specific monody alone in the titles of early pieces by Uzbek composers can be regarded a generic programmatic key. The most remarkable specimen is the «Tanovar» poem by Kozlovsky. In its symphonic version, between the author’s introduction and closure, this rendition generally communicates the sentiment of a popular woman’s lyric song «Tanovar». This kind of genre presentation employing citation and micro-citation was used not only for individual pieces, but also for suite cycles, such as «Samarqand Suite» by B. Deshevov, «Khorezm Suite» by B. Gienko, two suites on Karakalpak themes by Kozlovsky, «Khorezm Festive Procession» suite by S. Yudakov, etc

The generalized idea of these titled renditions can be called a «prototype of programmatic music», as V. Stasov appropriately put it, which was followed by purely programmatic pieces. Even generic programmatic style itself gradually abandons citation. At first, composers create their own titles for citation-based pieces, which is pointed out by N. Yanov-Yanovskaya, when she referred to the part titles in Kozlovsky’s first «Suite on Karakalpak Themes»: «The Morning of the Festival» and «The Shepherd’s Story» (2, p. 246).

Later on, associations with the primary genres acquire a different meaning. Departing from the citation method and applying genre-specific titles (such as Muhammas and Ufar, Mushqilot, Maqom), composers now interpret the primary genre on an individual basis and in an original way. And then the programmatic titles neither specify nor clarify the idea, but only guide the listener in the appropriate direction.

Further development of the programmatic line branches out into several trends. Creatively transformed programmatic genres exist to this day. Yet their main types, such as subject-based, temporal and spatial/pictorial ones gradually evolve at the same time. A major milestone was the emergence of a certain subject variety in 1940s and 1950s, which got into focus due to some objective reasons. Composers were facing new challenges: not only to create standards for the national polyphonic musical notation, but also to find the corresponding development principles. Simple exposure or varied theme interpretation were clearly no longer enough: the need was for a cross-cutting focus of musical events. The programmatic line helped develop an ability to «subordinate compositional canon to the dramatic unfolding of a story» (3, p. 43). A subject-based program that provides commentary to the events can be found in «Mukanna» suite by V. Uspensky that is based on music to Hamid Olimjan’s drama. Five specific fragments of stage action in the form of epigraphs open its five parts, like a dotted line marking different phases of the story.

Direct link to a literary piece is a favourite line in programmatic romance implemented by composers with varying degree of specificity. For example, the «Faust-Symphony», «Reading Dante» sonata and Petrarca piano sonnets by Ferenc Liszt are clearly sourced from literature, providing the listener with specific content orientation.

However, reference to a literary source has no effect upon the actual type of programmatic concept. The same literary work can inspire the same author to develop different programmatic lines. For example, when Liszt turns to Goethe’s «Faust», he offers a generalized panorama of the most important character spheres, whereas «Mephisto Waltz» is a separate subject-portrait sketch

The same tendency can be observed in Uzbek music. For example, Kozlovsky’s poem «Reading Aini» inspired by the historical novel «Bukhara» of a Tajik writer and chronicler translates the general sentiment of the book and reflects the dark, gloomy atmosphere of feudal Bukhara. And this is what makes it different from the musical piece of M. Ashrafi. While Kozlovski’s piece is based on a single character image and has fragments of the «Nasrulloi» theme from the Buzruk maqom as its thematic basis, the rhapsody-poem of M. Ashrafi is multi-thematic piece.

The combination of different non-interacting themes was probably the reason to identify the genre as rhapsody-poem. Yet one can trace a sequence of a storyline: The ancient city Khojent is sleeping peacefully. Only the governor and military commander Temur Malik knows that the city is in jeopardy. Daybreak brings the usual excitement. Merriment is suddenly interrupted by the news of approaching hordes of fearsome Genghis Khan. Through the sound of a fierce battle one could hear the moaning of people in the devastated city. Valiant Temur Malik perishes in the battle. Town folk lament for the noble warrior who gave his life away for the people.» (4, p. 139)

All in all, the subject-based programmatic line in its pure form, built on the principle of subordination to the temporal logic of events never became widespread. Much better represented are a spatial-pictorial program, a program-sentiment and their various blends.

Quite often composers present the ritual logic of events that is well-known to listeners; one example is Kozlovsky’s suite «Lola». The overall pictorial vector of its content affects the orchestral fabric of the piece. Onomatopoeia of various kinds becomes very important: the imitation of folk timbres and traditional singing manner. These techniques are employed to develop a complex sonic and dimensional story. Another example is the final of a suite «Saeel-bound Procession» by D. Saatkulov, which presents a genre picture, the content of which is associated with the folk tradition of celebrating Navruz.

Fughetta is the central part, the semantic core of the cycle. The composer uses fughetta for his masterfully implemented traditional usul technique, which at first sounds in the drums party as a rhythmic framework for the subsequent theme and only later gets high-profile.

Emerging in 1960s and 1970s, the aspiration for more refined imagery and going beyond folk story themes becomes clearly manifest in M. Makhmudov’s «Symphonic Sketches». The nature theme is interpreted here in the plane of «impressionistically refined imagery. Music conveys the range of various volatile moods caused by exposure to nature that can be still and serene, or stormy and violent. The title «Sketches» is not accidental either: the music has no clear-cut outlines, but there is a suggestion to things unsaid, a shade of fragility and volatility» (5, p. 144).

We find a lot of individuality and originality in the interpretation of a subject-less program offered by Georgiy Mushel who often used programmatic indications. Examples include his two suites for violin and piano «Watercolours» and «Ghazals», pieces for dance orchestra «The New Year Waltz» and «Tashkent Spring», his piano pieces «Fantastic litsezrita» and «Musical Kaleidoscope», as well as programmatic cycles of preludes Myaskovsky

Y. Pekker wrote: «Particularly appealing for Mushel as an artist are the colour and light. Scattered light, its refraction, reflected glare and chiaroscuro — all these things are not merely background or entourage, but the very flesh of his paintings. Many of Mushel’s landscapes, including his triptych «Pink Sonatina» leave the impression as if the artist saw it through the different shades of tinted glass» (6, p. 115).

Oriental architecture excites keen artistic interest as an object of programmatic concept. It represents a visible connection between modern day and the nation’s history. I. Akbarov’s «Samarqand Stories» dedicated to the 2500th anniversary of Samarqand are the manifestation of sonata-symphony logic in a cycle that is a suite in terms of its formal structure. Seemingly equal sketches of architectural monuments acquire different semantic meaning: it can be a pictorial drawing, or a suspense drama, or an emotion, or a jubilant crowd. All this is the embodiment of a functional logic of a sonata-symphony cycle. There is a good reason why Yanov-Yanovskaya considers the piece to be one of the most successful examples of a programmatic symphony.

In his two-part polyphonic cycle «Pages of History» dedicated to the 2000th anniversary of Tashkent, T. Kurbanov creates another programmatic concept: a multifaceted and content-rich historical picture, where events and characters change so rapidly as to allow musicologist I. Malmberg to compare drama with the cinematographic principle of frames (8, p.16). Kurbanov’s «Pages of History» is an epic narration with pictorial elements.

A distinctive feature of D. Saydaminova’s cycle «The Walls of Ancient Bukhara» is her approach to history in many aspects. Sometimes listener becomes an actor in historical events («The Samanid Kingdom», «The Minaret of Death»), or admires the perfection of man-made artefacts («The Tomb of Ismail Samani», «The Domes»), or encounters the past that seems to be drawing closer, but then disappears («The Ghosts of the Ancestors»).

Thus be drawing closer, but then disappears («The Ghosts of the Ancestors»). , the aforementioned pieces, the programs of which, as suggested by their titles, should be very close, are in fact completely different artistic solutions, in the genre of either programmatic symphony, or a polyphonic cycle and a piano cycle of miniatures.

New trends in the twentieth century music, naturally, influence the mindset of contemporary composers in Uzbekistan. This process became particularly strong in the last quarter of the twentieth century. By this time the school of composition already developed its own traditions with regard to the interpretation of polyphonic composition standards and started on the course of active individual pursuits. The reality of today is that programmatic title can change its direct function of clarifying the idea. There is a general gravitation toward being non-standard and toward novelty of every artistic expression. In this environment the author’s title can mean anything: a generic model, a mixture of genres, a stylistic model, a performing group, a writing technique, and finally just an experiment. A reference can be made here to the stylization-programme «Silhouettes» by D. Yanov-Yanovsky, «In the Footsteps of Francesca» by D. Saydaminova, a programmatic genre experiment «Mushqilot» by N. Zakirov, «Maqom Concert» by N. Giyasov, a program-ritual «Zikr Al Haq» by M. Bafoev and others.

It would be premature to draw any decisive conclusions, but already today one can observe new trends in the use of programmatic line, with unique experience contributed by Oriental schools of musical composition.


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Natalia Nam