Funeral Games in Honor of Arthur Vincent Lourie

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Funeral Games in Honor of Arthur Vincent Lourie explores the varied aesthetic impulses and ever-evolving personal motivations of Russian composer Arthur Lourie. A St. Petersburg native allied with the Futurist movement and profoundly sympathetic to Silver Age decadence, Lourie was swept away by the Revolution; he surfaced as a Communist commissar of music before landing in Europe and America, where his career foundered. Making his way by serving others, he became Stravinsky's right-hand man, Serge Koussevitsky's ghostwriter, and philosopher Jacques Maritain's muse. Lourie left his mark on the poems of Anna Akhmatova, on the neoclassical aesthetics of Stravinsky, on Eurasianism, and on Maritain's NeoThomist musings about music. Lourie serves as a flawless lens through which aspects of Silver Age Russia, early Bolshevik rule, and the cultural space of exile come into sharper focus. But this interdisciplinary collection of essays, edited by musicologists Klara Moricz and Simon Morrison, also looks at Lourie himself as an artist and intellectual in his own right. Much of the aesthetic and technical discussion concerns his grandly eulogistic opera The Blackamoor of Peter the Great, understood as both a belated Symbolist work and as a NeoThomist exercise. Despite the importance Lourie attached to the opera as his masterwork, Blackamoor has never been performed, its fate thus serving as an emblem of Lourie's own. Yet even if Lourie seems to have been destined to be but a footnote in the pages of music history, he looms large in studies of emigration and cultural memory. Here Lourie's life, like his last opera, is presented as a meditation on the circumstances and psychology of exile. Ultimately, these essays recover a lost realm of musical and aesthetic possibilities-a Russia that Lourie, and the world, saw disappear.