Galina Ustvolskaya’s Piano Sonata No. 6 and a Hermeneutic of Pain
This chapter discusses the cultural preoccupation with memory and suffering in Russia during glasnost and focuses upon pain as an element of truth, morality, and spirituality. Galina Ustvolskaya’s Piano Sonata No. 6 resonates with a concern for physical pain that appears in the social discourse during glasnost. For those who were concerned with telling the history of WWII and subsequent human rights violations during the Soviet era, a focus upon the physicality of pain could assert the reality of suffering in response to a master narrative that frequently ignored or falsified such pain. Foregrounding bodily suffering could also function to counter a political narrative that interpreted such experiences in patriotic and triumphalist terms. This chapter considers Ustvolskaya’s foregrounding of bodily pain in the late 1980s as an antidote to an official culture that continued to debate the historical veracity of many people’s suffering under the Soviet regime.
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