A Forbidden Fruit? Sacred Music in the Soviet Union before Its Fall


ACLS Project Development Grants




“A Forbidden Fruit?” is the first musically centered cultural history of the 1960s-1980s spiritual renaissance in the Soviet Union. Drawing upon oral history, memoirs, periodicals, and musical analysis derived from state and personal archives located in Armenia, Estonia, Russia and Ukraine, this project examines the composition and performance histories of over 20 musical works inspired by Western classical sacred music and by local religious traditions. While describing and categorizing the circumstances that made performance of sacred music desirable and possible in atheist state, this project illuminates Russia’s imperial practice of enforcing provincial status on its colonized republics, and inequality of composers’ experiences across the USSR that resulted from their nationalities and religious confessions.