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Markov A.

Balmont’s “Air Island“ and Prokofiev’s “Dreams“: the affinity of dream philosophy

Balmont’s poem of Air Island: Seven Dreams is a series of paintings that not only reproduce the logic and expressiveness of dream images, but explain the features of dreaming, theorizing about the work of thought in a dream. It is proved that Balmont’s understanding of the nature of dreams owes both to the ideas of Nietzsche and to the music of the young Prokofiev, who was guided by Balmont’s aesthetics. The mutual understanding between Balmont and Prokofiev related not only to the commonality of aesthetic intuitions, but also to the way of theme development, based on contrasts that receive an additional flavor of sonority, which enriches the plot. The considered poem of Balmont, when examined in this way, receives logic and meaning: it illustrates Nietzsche’s thesis about the dream as a return to archaic thinking, in which a person feels his or her unity with the cosmos and the interchangeability of bodily experiences and impressions from the world around him or her. At the same time, many parallels are noted between the composition of Prokofiev’s early opus Dreams and Balmont’s poem: the use of parts of contrasting instruments, a specific development of the theme, the semantisation of the sounds of various instruments as synesthetic images, the dialectical and teleological development of the plot - all of this has parallels in Balmont’s poetry. Such parallels make it possible to decipher some of the dark passages of the poem, which turn out to be the transmission of quite definite musical impressions. Nietzsche’s philosophy allowed Balmont to move from the phenomenology of a dream as the construction of images through the study of sleep conditions to myth-making, while not violating the laws of dream imagery, and Prokofiev’s music substantiated those synesthetic images that without this would look alien in presentation, justified only by the patheticness, while here they turn out to be a natural transcription of sound and, in general, object-related impressions: if you imagine that any object sounds, then any object also builds an image in a dream. Thus, we can talk about Balmont’s poem as a cultural palimpsest, which makes it possible to clarify the perception of young Prokofiev’s innovations by his contemporaries.

Key words

Balmont, Prokofiev, Nietzsche, dreaming, suite, musical picture, symbolism, musical imagery, phenomenology of music, synesthesia, instrumentation, musical impression.

For citation

Markov A. Balmont’s ”Air island” and Prokofiev’s ”Dreams”: the affinity of dream philosophy // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2020. No. 3. Pp. 122–129.