César Cui and 19th-c. Russian music

Among the great ‘dilettantes’ of 19th-c. Russian music who worked to achieve a national ideal, Cesar’ Antonovic Kjui-known in the west as César Cui-is not widely recognized. Frequently he is regarded merely as a journalist advocate of the ideas of the Russian Five. An examination of some of his dramatic works such as Kavkazskij plennik and William Ratcliff, however, reveals them to be noteworthy. Kjui, though removed from the realistic ‘ethos’ of Musorgskij, represents a positive moment in Russian music history. For example, the overture of Kavkazskij plennik foreshadows that of Prince Igor in its spirit of Slavic Romanticism. Kjui’s songs are impressive; Ici bas, on a text by Sully Proudhomme, is representative of the sensibility of a Fauré.

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