The Composers’ Union and Sustainability

Elephantine marches and songs of the Motherland…these are some thoughts that might come to mind when thinking about music in Soviet Russia. Although there is some truth to these popular assumptions, there is much more detail about music under Stalinist Soviet Russia. Specifically, there is the detail of Stalin’s creations of creative unions. These unions had various sects for artists such as architects, cinematographers, and writers, just to name a few. This paper will focus on the union for composers. The union for composers was a time of chaos with the shift of power with the renaming of these unions at various times, a period of control, as exemplified in Dmitrii Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and an era of great artistic achievement for the State, as seen in the creation of the new national anthem. Additionally, sustainability played a part in these unions. Sustainability is the maintaining of social, economic, and environmental aspects. When all three of these are coevolving and present, sustainability is met. How does sustainability fit in the Union of Composers? What is the history of this union?


Organized musical structures in Russia can be traced back to the Russian Musical Society, which formed in 1859. In the 1920s, two associations of Russian music dominated: the Association for Contemporary Music and the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians. The Central Committee passed a resolution in April of 1932, eliminating these two associations. The resolution called for the creation of a new artistic organization. This is when the creative unions came into being. The musical sect of these artistic unions was called the Composers’ Union. The resolution eliminated all professional artistic unions except the artistic unions created by the State. However, when these unions had just begun, the Soviet government showed little leadership in the musical details of the union[i]. So, the larger cities such as Moscow and Leningrad began forming their own municipal composers’ unions. These municipal unions were highly efficient, having different departments to oversee various tasks. As these unions gained more publicity, the Soviet government formed a new, powerful committee. The Committee on Artistic Affairs, formed in January 1936, wanted to revitalize the arts in Soviet Russian. The rise of this new governmental committee eventually created a powerful, united, all-USSR composers’ union.

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Shrinkage of the Aral Sea

My final report is about the shrinkage of the Aral Sea.  I will be concentrating on four points.    The first point is the cause of the shrinkage of the Aral Sea.  I will discuss how the Soviets in Moscow wanted to harvest great quantities of cotton from Central Asia.  In order to do this, they used the Aral Sea for irrigation to such an extent that the sea’s area shrank by 44%.  This caused many health and environmental consequences for Central Asia.

The environmental consequences that I will discuss include flooding due to poor drainage systems, the poisoning of water and soil by pesticides used to grow the cotton, dust storms, and deforestation. The health consequences I plan on discussing include starvation, infant mortality, contaminated breast milk, and the prevalence of water-born illnesses such as typhoid, hepatitis, and dysentery.

The final point of discussion will be the possibility of rebuilding the Aral Sea, along with the successes that have occurred since the collapse of the USSR.

I will need to continue doing more research for my report.  I am anticipating that the most challenging part of the project for me will not be the material, but the technological aspect of creating a website.  This is the part that I will need to dedicate the most time to, as I have never done anything like it before.

So far, I have learned the importance of examining sources on multiple levels.  First, getting articles from reliable databases, such as JSTOR, helps. Also, the fact that some of the authors I cited were cited in other scholarly articles gives more credibility to the authors. It is also important to have articles written by professionals, such as historians and scientists, and not university students or bloggers. The author’s credentials separate a scholarly article from an unscholarly article.

I also had to make sure, especially in the scientific texts, that I understood the point of the article. If an article is too difficult to comprehend, then it is pointless to cite it.

As for my critique of Evernote, my only issue was that it changed the format of the bibliography.  I found it easier to use Microsoft Word.

Here is my annotated bibliography:

annotated bibliography HIST 254