chapter  7
6 Pages

The development of film music in the cinema of the Soviet Republics.

In the 1930s, the Ukraine was second only to the RSFSR in its level of professional mastery and the intensity of development of the cinematographic process. The Ukrainian cinema owed much of its efflorescence to the creative activities of Alexander Dovzhenko, the leading representative of the poetical-romantic trend in the cinema. In 1935 he released his film Aerograd, which was later defined by the critics as a lyric-epic poem about his contemporaries, about their work and struggle, and love for their native land. The director asked Dmitry Kabalevsky to write music for this film. The composer was faced with a number of serious problems, part of which remained unsolved because of his own stereotyped approach to the film materiaL

Replete with musical poetic metaphors, the most impressive of which were its unhurried, meditative 'landscape openings', the Aerograd required the solution of certain specific problems. Besides characterizing the scene of the action, creating the emotional atmosphere and commenting upon the representation, the music had to, by all possible means, reveal close affinity between the characters and Nature. Moreover, according to Dovzhenko's conception, the music needed to become part of the sound and visual image of the film and exist in an unbreakable relationship with other elements of the screen synthesis. However, taking up the director's lead slavishly, Kabalevsky lapsed into banal illustration. As a result, the music of Aerograd - including its leitmotiv, the song 'Good-bye, Mama, I'm flying to far-off lands', written as an almost faultless imitation of a cheerful popular song -lacked that depth of philosophic and imaginative generalization of events in real life which characterized the visual solution of the film's content.