Статья 'К проблеме понятия «топос» в музыкознании (на примере оперы А. Холминова «Анна Снегина») ' - журнал 'PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal' - NotaBene.ru
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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

On the Problem of the Concept of "Topos" in Musicology (on the Example of A. Kholminov's Opera "Anna Snegina")

Kozovchinskaia Elena

Senior Lecturer of the Department of History and Theory of Music of the Orenburg State Institute of Arts named after L. and M. Rostropovich

460014, Russia, Orenburg region, Orenburg, Sovetskaya str., 17










Abstract: The purpose of the article is to consider the opera by A. N. Kholminov "Anna Snegina", applying the concept of "topos". In the center of the plot is the image of the poet Yesenin. To comprehend historical events through the iconic image of the epoch became for the composer a direct expression of the author's ideas. Borrowed from literary criticism, the category of "topos" allowed us to reveal the stylistic features of Kholminov's operatic language. The perspective of the proposed research will make an additional contribution to the list of works on the study of Russian opera, which determines the relevance of this article. A detailed study of the concept of "topos" in the humanities opens up great prospects for its application in relation to musical works. Scientific novelty is connected with the problem under study. Insufficient research on this issue prompts a thesis to turn to the term in its primary meaning and determines the relevance of its functioning in musicology. For the first time, A. N. Kholminov's opera is analyzed by means of such a concept as "topos". In this article, an attempt is made to apply the concept of "topos" to study the complex of musical and expressive means. As a result of the research, the author comes to the conclusion that the principles of fundamental importance in the analysis of the text in literary studies take place in the study of the artistic world of the opera "Anna Snegina" by A. N. Kholminov.


Kholminov, composer, musicology, topos of the Motherland, topos of melancholy, topos of love, opera, Anna Snegina, Yesenin, image

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The artistic world of A.N. Kholminov's compositions in the musical orbit of the second half of the XX century is of particular interest. In his works, the composer revealed a huge world of images, revealing at the same time the most important themes of the time.

One of them is the heroic theme. The author is largely attracted by difficult periods in the history of Russia: The Civil War ("Optimistic Tragedy", 1964; "Anna Snegina", 1966; "Chapaev", 1974); the Great Patriotic War ("Hot Snow", 1984); the time of creation of a new modern country ("Steelworkers", 1987). In search of heroic themes, the most important means of his artistic thinking and musical content were determined.

One of the most striking manifestations of the historical and revolutionary theme in Kholminov is the opera "Anna Snegina". It was written by A.N. Kholminov in 1966. The literary source was the poem of the same name by Sergei Yesenin (librettist A. Mashistov).

The drama consists of two conceptual storylines. The main character is a poet who came to the village of Radovo in the Ryazan province. The accent point is the scene of the meeting of Sergei and Anna. It is with this that the lyrical side of the plot is connected. The historical and social line is revealed in situations showing the destruction of landlords' houses and the social situation in the conditions of radical revolutionary changes. These two lines develop in parallel and come to a climax when in the second act there is a domestic conflict and a fire in the Snegins' estate. The last picture returns the lyrical and psychological sphere - Sergey and Anna in 1924. The denouement is made in the form of an open ending – the main characters are separated by space (the poet is in Russia, Anna moved to England), their relationship is shown through writing.

The established ideas about Kholminov's operas need to be expanded and updated. Among the many approaches, it is possible to single out certain key aspects of the opera that require more in-depth attention.

In this article, an attempt is made to apply the concept of "topos" to study the complex of musical and expressive means in the opera "Anna Snegina" by A.N. Kholminov.

Modern musicology has recently been actively interacting with various fields of science and art. The terminological apparatus is constantly updated with new meanings. Thus, the polysemous term "topos" was extrapolated from the field of literary studies. A detailed study of this concept in the humanities opens up great prospects for its application in relation to musical works. Insufficient research on this issue prompts a thesis to turn to the term in its primary meaning and determines the relevance of its functioning in musicology.

The aim of the work was to find a kind of "keys" for the historical and theoretical knowledge of the opera, while opening a new perspective for research.

The goal determines the objectives of the study:

· determine the historical origin of the concept of "topos";

· to consider various manifestations of the term "topos" in A. Kholminov's opera "Anna Snegina";

· to reveal the artistic world of images in Kholminov's opera, through the topos of the Motherland, melancholy, premonition, love, people;

· to study the complex of musical and expressive means corresponding to the topic of selected storylines.

The leading methodological task was the use of different directions of Russian science: the synthesis of musicological analysis and multidimensional cultorological connections speaks of an interdisciplinary approach.


Since ancient times, the word "topos" (other-Greek. - letters. "place") was used in a broad sense as a generally valid statement. It is this Aristotelian understanding of the term that formed the basis of a whole trend in literary studies (Toposforschung), discovered by the German philologist E.R. Curtius. In his works, the scientist put forward a theory about repetitive elements that are revealed in certain situations, peculiar cliches that regularly appear in a literary text [1].

In Russian philology, Yu.M. Lotman puts forward his point of view about the concept: "... Behind the image of things and objects, surrounded by the characters of the text, there is a system of spatial relations, the structure of the topos. At the same time, being the principle of the organization and arrangement of characters in the artistic continuum, the structure of the topos acts as a language for expressing other, non-spatial relations of the text" [2, p. 221].In the article devoted to the genre approach to the study of musical topics on the example of pastoral, A.G. Korobova identifies the following groups: topos associated with primary genres; topos associated with instruments, sound-imaginative topos; quotation topos, figurative-emotional topos, "plot" topos; tonal topos [3, pp. 138-139].

Thus, despite some blurring of the definition, the term "topos" entered literary usage, accommodating such properties as high stability, universality, static, supra-temporal symbolism [4].The theoretical apparatus of modern Russian musicology relatively recently began to apply the concept of "topos".

Having not received a final definition, the term is used in the broad sense of the word.

Using the example of the study of classical music of the XVIII – early XIX centuries, L.V. Kirillova suggests deciphering the term "topos" (or "topic") as follows: "... this is a system of "common places" of musical discourse that connects certain areas of content with recognizable expressive means" [5, p. 3]. Close in content content becomes the widely spread concept of "semantics" (B.V. Asafyev, M.G. Aranovsky, L.N. Shaimukhametova). However, the science of signs, which came from linguistics, has a narrower focus compared to the proposed term. The system of space-time relations arising in a musical composition is associated with the concept of "chronotope", which is also close in meaning and borrowed from literary studies.

According to L.V. Kirillina, many researchers have already raised the problem of "topics" in music, replacing it with other concepts: "typical turns" (V.J. Konen), "stable meanings of musical and linguistic formulas" (E.V. Chigareva). The researcher herself closely touches the topic with stylistics and themes: "... the topic includes both the concept of the picture of the world and the place of a person in it, and the doctrine of affects, and the range of images, and specifically musical phenomena – thematism, intonation, genre, tonal semantics, orchestration, texture, etc." [6, p. 6]. Without pretending to a comprehensive definition of the boundaries of this concept, L.V. Kirillina suggests such large emotional and meaningful spheres as pathos, heroics, pastoral, gallantry. Within the "big" toposes, "small" forms are distinguished, for example, the topic of melancholy, the topic of hunting, the topic of bird voices, etc.

Thus, not being unambiguous, the term "topos" can be interpreted, correlating with its primary meaning, as "common places", and used as a tool for musical analysis.

The main figurative spheres in the opera "Anna Snegina" are formed on the conjugation of heterogeneous toposes: Homeland, melancholy, premonition, love, people.

Topos of the Motherland:Kholminov perceives this opera as part of a trilogy ("Optimistic Tragedy", "Anna Snegina", "Chapaev"), where the historical background on which the hero is shown plays an important role, and the theme of the hero's emotional attitude to the Motherland is put forward as one of the leading ones.

The implementation of the topos of the Motherland in Kholminov is associated with the poet's immanent time perception in Russia. This is a civic lyric. Many researchers of Yesenin's work confirm that the Motherland becomes the leading image of his lyrics: "The image of Russia was formed in Yesenin's poetry gradually from small dashes: landscapes, customs, individual episodes of history and modern life" [7, p. 120]. The specifics of the Poet-patriot are manifested mainly in his solo performances: monologue, arioso and song.

The exposition of the main character opens the opera with a monologue "The beloved Land" (the first picture). The author of the opera subtly feels the expressiveness of each line of landscape lyrics. In the poet's philosophical reflections, nature is perceived as a source of inspiration ("The heart dreams of the stacks of the sun"). It is in the opera "Anna Snegina" that Kholminov's attitude to Yesenin is shown, A.A. Baeva notes: "... the composer embodies the truthful image of the poet, in whose mind Homeland and native nature are inextricably linked" [8, p. 10].

The orchestral prelude colorfully describes the morning dawn. The oscillating background, tart harmony, illustrative sound recording bring all this closer to the musical aesthetics of Impressionism.

The intonation structure of the Poet's solo utterance allows us to talk about the cantilevered nature, here is sung an "emotionally comprehended, sensed word" [9, p. 195]. Alternating sections of the monologue recreate the thoughts of the hero. Emotional-figurative integrity and melodic kinship become binding features.

The topos of the Motherland also appears in Sergei's monologue, which sounds in the epilogue of the opera. Emotions such as pathos ("My soul is proud"), expectation ("... they will glorify the happiness of new days"), patriotic feelings ("I will sing with all my being in the poet the sixth part of the earth with a short name: "Rus") are synthesized. "The final monologue is marked by special spirituality, the song-simple, artless music at first is gradually dynamized, the sound of one voice is complemented by a chorus and orchestra – merging, they form a colorful painting of an enthusiastic anthemic character," A.A. Baeva describes the finale [10, pp. 9-10]. The character of the apotheosis, the modal certainty (C-dur), the harmonic solidity, the powerful sound of choral support make the completion of the opera triumphant, which elevates the image of the Patriot Poet.

Topos of melancholy:The Poet's elegiac song "The Distant cry of the Taglianka" (1 d., 2 cards.)

opens Yesenin through the topos of melancholy. First of all, the text itself attracts Kholminov. In an interview, the composer emphasized the value of each word used in the libretto: "I care about the word, its intonation, its music, its quality" [11, p. 138]. In this case, the author of "Anna Snegina" starts from the lyrical nature of the poet's talent, which is especially evident in the songs.

The solo numbers of the hero are distinguished by a general lyrical mood, fret variability, cantilevered melody. Some biographical facts could have influenced the musical characterization of Sergei's image. For example, the composer could hear peasant singing where his grandmother lived – in the Ryazan village of Poshupovo, located a few kilometers from Yeseninsky Konstantinovo. Memories of the poet have preserved information that "... no less than to read poetry, he was in a hurry to sing Ryazan "pribaski", grooves and sufferings" [12, p. 183].

The topos of melancholy is also reflected in Sergei's song "Don't beckon, dear ones have given" (2 d., 5 cards.). Waltziness, which was evident in the rhythmic basis, song thematism - these means come closer to the musical and expressive complex characteristic of Schubert's compositions. Here we also find those techniques that T. V. Tsaregradskaya refers to as typified for the topos of melancholy, such as the "figure of a sigh" and the lamento motif [13, p. 52]. Filled with anxiety, this musical solo can be compared with the tragic premonition contained in the famous Yesenin lines "Who came to this world as a wanderer, must spend a century on the road."

Topos of love:The image of the poet as a "subject of aesthetic activity" (M.M. Bakhtin) is revealed in the scenes of Sergei with Anna, with individual characters and with the people.

The topos of love manifests itself in a single lyrical line: from the scene of the meeting of Sergei and Anna in the first picture to the climactic duet numbers in the third picture, the dramatic climax and the farewell scene in the fifth picture and the quiet lyrical finale in the letter scene. To embody this imaginative sphere, it was necessary to represent the feelings and reflections of the poet, and this in turn complemented the introspective characterization of the hero.

The topos of love is most vividly revealed in the third picture of Kholminov's opera. Here is a kind of "lyrical pause" of the action. Anna is in the garden. The orchestral introduction paints a picture of a warm rural night. Vague harmonies create together with tremolo an illustration of the setting sun. The heroine's reflections, surging memories of her first love, are presented in a short recitative and monologue.

The monologue "Once he loved me" is divided into two parts: before the appearance of Sergei and after. The beginning conveys Anna's excitement and confusion ("Will it come? Maybe he'll laugh..."). Tonal centralization is emphasized by an ostinate melodic-rhythmic figure and a tonic organ point. The ladoharmonic system is enriched with a major-minor. The tendency to tonal instability, the fragmentation of extended phrases, the emerging trembling background, as harbingers announce Anna's anxiety at the appearance of Sergei.

The second section is a moment of memories. An interesting combination of tonalities – fis – F – f (singleness and eponymousness), the predominance of recitative technique in the heroine's vocal part, intonation roll calls (solo orchestra) characterize this fragment. The flat sphere (f, b) culminates in one of the most favorite tonalities illustrating romantic relationships – Des-dur. Passionate excitement is conveyed by the peculiarities of Anna's vocal sphere, sharp dynamic and register differences.

The duet of Anna and Sergey following the monologue is a classic love dialogical number. The duet's thematism is based on constant movement in the size of 9/8. A flexible, sinuous melody veils the elevated steps. The tonic organ point accompanied and the seconds of the iridescence on the background of one harmony create a calm "swaying" background. Constant interrogative intonations ("Honey, are you the one?) they draw an image of a hero choking with excitement. The intonational similarity with the vocal parts of Sergei and Anna shows the unity of their inner feeling.

Topic of the people:The second picture of the opera is a juicy and diverse exposition of the image of the People.

The main character, the poet Sergei, is characterized as part of the people: he communicates with the villagers, talks about what is happening around, and the poet's song in the middle section of the choral stage shows the unity of the individual and society.

The genre leitmotif of the topos of the people became a chastushka (chorus "Play, play, taglianochka, raspberry furs") and a song.

Wanting to convey a special historical atmosphere, he places a ditty in a folk scene, generically recreating the rural flavor. The poet is shown through the stylization of tunes. The orchestral introduction of the choir illustrates the accordion playing, Against the background of the busting, the melody of the song type of the male choir sounds. Each stanza of the chastushka is interspersed with the tunes of the hookah. The Dorian minor gives the scene a juicy rural flavor. Here is a description of the poet as a simple village guy.

The central section of the choral scene is Sergei's song "The Distant Cry of the Talyanka". The intonational source of the melody is the initial theme of the chorus, but in a descending version.

The topic of the people is embodied through the character of Labuti and his chastushka "Kuma Kuma was gaining intelligence." As if contrasting the purity and sincere love for the Motherland of Sergei and the mockery and pretense of Labuti, the tonality of their songs with the same tonic foundation, but in different moods: Poet (a-moll), Labuta (A-dur). The fervent nature of the chastushka is emphasized by a whimsical figurative melody based on a combination of the eponymous major and minor. The accompaniment is gradually dynamized, the music acquires the character of a sound that captures the dance with its temperament.

Literary critic V.V. Prozorov reflects on the author's introduction of sharp accents into the literary text. He suggests "focusing on such "components" of the artistic and verbal fabric, the very purpose of which ... is to "consciously" capture the reader's attention, manage it, directly attract the reader's interest" [14, p. 97]. Kholminov also took advantage of the use of an accessible genre to mark the topos of the people: the choral ditty "Play, play, taglianochka" and the ditty of Labuti "At Kuma Kuma" have a purposeful attitude "to recognition", which shows the enhanced communication of the composer's decision.

In general, revealing the specifics of Kholminov's opera through the conjugation of toposes, we can come to the following conclusions that the structuring components used to embody the emotional-figurative sphere are stable. The topos of the Motherland is characterized by reliance on stable steps, tonal certainty, and graphic metrorhythm. The topos of melancholy reveals the importance of peasant and urban song. The trembling background, the impetuosity and passion conveyed by orchestral means, the roles of the heroes emotionally rich in various intonations – these are the components of the topos of love. The topos of the people is a combination of bright, juicy song turns of the chastushka genre with the stylistics of the modern musical language.

The sequence of toposes in this consideration is chosen in any order. The main focus is the expansion of prospects for the analytical consideration of a musical work. A.N. Kholminov's opera "Anna Snegina" shows through a set of topos that the hero, on the one hand, is treated as an individual focused on his inner self. On the other hand, the Poet appears as a person representing a part of the people, one with him.


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The subject of the study, "topos" in A. Kholminov's opera "Anna Snegina", is revealed by the author on the example of the composer's formation of the figurative spheres of the Motherland, melancholy, premonition, love, and the people. The author clarifies the concept of "topos" in relation to the definition of the most "common places" of the opera composition, which, in his opinion, differ in the "stability" of the use of artistic and expressive techniques that hold together the figurative sphere and form of the work. The article pursues a dual goal: on the one hand, the methodological applicability of the "topos" as an analytical tool and its heuristic potential are revealed, on the other, the composer's idea and the content of a musical and dramatic work are revealed in a new way. The author focuses on the analysis of specific empirical material, elevating its interpretation to the level of a logical argument in favor of a methodological technique. The narrowing of the research field in this case is justified and the stated argument is presented convincingly. In further work, in terms of the development of methodology, the author should be recommended to place such brief analytical sketches in the broader context of musicological discourse, generalizing empiricism at the level of determining the place of the results obtained in the overall picture of scientific ideas. This remark does not detract from the merits of the work done. The article is certainly worthy of publication. But discussing the results with colleagues, especially foreign ones (which requires a review of the literature over the past 5 years and, possibly, an additional section in the article), would significantly enhance the merits of the work. The research methodology is logical and well-founded. The author explicates a semiotic methodological technique in the field of musicology, which has proven itself well in the structural and functional analysis of literary texts. Meanwhile, in the field of textual studies, "topos" remains an ambiguous term. From one point of view, it is interpreted, as in the presented article, as the most stable characteristics of characters and described objects in their interrelations arising in an artistic work: that is, it characterizes the so-called "inner" space of an artistic work (Bakhtin, Lotman). But the same M. M. Bakhtin also has a broader idea of the topos, as about the patterns of manifestation in a work of art of the characteristics of the real space in which the author of the test himself is located. Again, in the perspective of further development of the topic raised by the author, I would like to recommend taking into account the relationship between real and artistic spaces discovered by Bakhtin: criticizing or prolonging in more detail the world-famous concept of the chronotope. The relevance of the presented article is justified by the author as the need to expand the musical instruments. This thesis is generally well-reasoned and is beyond doubt. The scientific novelty of the work is provided by the explication of a well-developed methodology in the field of musicology, where the tools described and applied by the author remain new, controversial and in need of further development. The style of work is scientific. The structure of the article reflects the logic of presenting the results of scientific research. An insignificant typo was found in the content of the test ("juicy song phrases of the chastushka genre"), which does not significantly affect the quality of the article. The bibliography, given the author's reliance on empirical material, is in principle sufficient to disclose the problem area, although it could be strengthened by including more literature in the work over the past 5 years. There are no significant comments on the design. The appeal to the opponents is correct and sufficient. The presented article is certainly of interest to the readership of the journal "PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal».
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