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Alexander Vasilievich Mosolov (Russian: Александр Васильевич Мосолов, 29 July/11 August 1900, Kievmarker11 July 1973, Moscowmarker), was a significant Russian avant-garde composer of the early Sovietmarker era. The son of a lawyer (who died when he was five) and a singer at the Bolshoi Theatremarker, during the Revolutionary period in 1917-18 he worked in the office of the People's Commissioner for State Control, where he had fleeting personal contact with Lenin. He then served with the Red Army on the Polish and Ukrainian fronts and was wounded and shell-shocked. From 1920 he worked as a pianist for silent films, and in 1922 entered the Moscow Conservatorymarker to study under Reinhold Glière and Nikolai Miaskovsky, graduating in 1925. The same year as his graduation, he joined the Moscow branch of the Association of Contemporary Music. He became director of chamber music for the Association of Contemporary Music, and then worked as a radio music editor.

His works were often taken to embody the new brutalism and worship of the machine, and his most famous composition is the orchestral piece Iron Foundry (Zavod), a movement from a ballet entitled Steel (1927), which was performed all over the world. Later Mosolov fell foul of the musical politics of the USSRmarker and after violent attacks on his reputation by Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians his works were pulled from publication and performance. In 1936 Mosolov was expelled from the Union of Soviet Composers for 'public drunkenness'. Thanks to archival research, we now know that in 1932 he had written to Stalin complaining that through no fault of his own he had 'become a kind of musical outlaw' even though he was 'a loyal Soviet man'. He was sent to Armeniamarker, Kirghiziamarker, Turkmeniamarker and Daghestanmarker to document folksong (and also to 'compose a Turkmen Song about Stalin') before being arrested in 1937 for 'anti-Soviet propaganda' and condemned to eight years in the labour camps. Owing to the intervention of his former teachers he was released in a matter of months and lived on in poor health, still composing and working with folk music but largely denied a hearing by the authorities. Shortly after his death his music began to be revived.

Operas

  • A Hero (Герой), chamber opera (1928)
  • The barrage (Плотина – Plotina), libretto Ya. Zadykhin (1929-1930)
  • A Signal (Сигнал), libretto O. Litovsky (1941)
  • Masquerade (Маскарад), after Mikhail Lermontov (c. 1944)


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