Marina Lupishko

The Principle of ‘Confutatio’ in J.S. Bach’s Music and the Philosophical System of Yakov Druskin (1902-80): The Narratological Aspect

Yakov Druskin (1902-1980) is one of the most interesting actors on the Soviet cultural arena of the 20th century. Unfortunately, his works and views are still largely unknown. A philosopher, pianist and mathematician by education, a math schoolteacher by occupation, Druskin was a very versatile figure. His main interest was religious philosophy in the tradition of his teacher Nikolay Lossky, and he left a surprising number of theological treatises that were published only after his death. Today Druskin is primarily known as one of the key members of the group of Russian avant-garde poets and philosophers called the 'chinari' ('the titled ones'), along with Vvedensky, Kharms, Lipavsky, Oleynikov, and Zabolotsky, all of whom (except Zabolotsky) perished during Stalin's purges or the second World War.

My paper will concentrate on Druskin's musicological study  On the rhetoric principles of J.S. Bach's music (1972), where he investigates the six rhetorical principles of dispositio, listed by Johann Mattheson in Der vollkommene Capellmeister (1739), and tests their possible applicability to the formal analysis of Bach's instrumental works. Substantiated with numerous examples from Bach's inventions, partitas, French and English keyboard suites, and solo cello suites, Druskin's re-interpretation of Confutatio (Mattheson's 4th principle) represents an important contribution to the study of Bach's music in the USSR from the point of view of rhetorics. Addressing the issue of how the narrative meaning can be created in media other than language, my study explores the idea and the function of Druskin's Confutatio, and also sheds some light on the relation between Druskin's musicological, literary, and theological writings in order to link them with the contemporary proto-narratological literary theories (Shklovsky 1921, Tomashevsky 1925, Propp 1928) and to put them into a wider perspective of today's interest in cross-disciplinary narratology (Grishakova, Ryan 2010).