All music in Russia stems from Glinka.

Igor Stravinsky

Yes, I know I’m (aptly – see below) repeating myself [From Acorn to Oak, October 2012], but Stravinsky’s opinion is just as valid now as it was six years ago.

It’s really impossible to discuss the influence of Russian folk music on the rise of that country’s nationalist composers without making reference to the works of Glinka and, in particular, his ‘Fantasy for Orchestra on Themes of Wedding Songs and Dances’, Kamarinskaya.

There are just two traditional music sources for the Fantasy: the wedding song From behind the mountains, the high mountains

…and the dance, Kamarinskaya

What’s so special about it? Firstly, of course, the use of folk material for the first time, and secondly – and perhaps this is even more significant – Glinka here abandons the Germanic model of variation and development and simply(??) repeats (34 times in the case of the dance tune!) his folk melodies over and over again with minimal variation but with different backgrounds and different orchestral colour.

The blandishments of this new, ‘all-Russian’ approach to musical form were so great that even a German trained, college boy climbed onto the bandwagon…

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