A Life in Music from the Soviet Union to Canada: Memoirs of a Madrigal Ensemble Singer

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University of North Texas Press, 2019 - Biography & Autobiography - 448 pages
The musical career of Alexander Tumanov extends from Stalinist and Soviet Russia through contemporary Canada, and as such provides an inspiring portrait of one person's devotion to his art under trying circumstances. Tumanov was a founding member of Moscow's Madrigal Ensemble of early music. This ensemble was the first to introduce Renaissance and Baroque music to the Soviet Union and enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, despite official disapproval by the Soviet bureaucracy.

The Ensemble was allowed to tour and perform but had to be careful when it came to certain "sensitive" musical selections, always functioning in the shadow of unpredictable behavior by the Soviet authorities. During some periods, the compositions of the group's founder, Andrei Volkonsky, were banned. Volkonsky eventually emigrated to escape the oppressive conditions, followed soon after, in 1974, by Tumanov, and the Madrigal Ensemble continued in a changed form under new leaders.

Once Tumanov emigrated to Canada, he became active in Canadian vocal music and the last section of the book describes the activities of the émigré musical community and Tumanov's own efforts to promote underrepresented musicians from his home country. The story of the author's subsequent life and career in Canada provides a poignant point of contrast with his Soviet period -- at the musical, academic, and political levels. This book is a valuable resource for those interested in the history of music and intellectual life in Russia, Ukraine, and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century and is the first published book on the Madrigal Ensemble.

Number 12: North Texas Lives of Musicians Series

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About the author (2019)

ALEXANDER TUMANOV was born in the Soviet Union and earned degrees in Slavic philology and music before joining the Madrigal Ensemble in Moscow. He emigrated to Canada with his family in 1974, where he completed a PhD and joined the Department of Slavic and East European Studies at the University of Alberta. The author of the biography of Maria Olenina d'Alheim in both English and Russian, he currently lives in London, Ontario, Canada, with his wife Alla. Translator and editor VLADIMIR TUMANOV holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Alberta and teaches modern languages at Western University in London, Ontario, where he lives.

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