Vladimir Stasov

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stasov, Vladimir Vasil’evich


Born Jan. 2 (14), 1824, in St. Petersburg; died there Oct. 10 (23), 1906. Russian art and music critic, art historian, and archaeologist. One of the foremost figures in 19th-century Russian democratic culture. Honorary member of the Academy of Sciences (1900). Son of architect V. P. Stasov.

Stasov came from a gifted family that produced a number of outstanding cultural and sociopolitical figures. After graduating from the School of Jurisprudence in 1843, he practiced law for a time but soon devoted himself entirely to art. In 1872 he became head of the art division of the Public Library (now the M. E. Sal-tykov-Shchedrin State Public Library).

Stasov considered art and music criticism to be his life’s work. Beginning in 1847 he regularly published articles on literature, art, and music. The range of his interests was encyclopedic: he wrote articles on Russian and foreign music, painting, sculpture, and architecture, and he compiled collections based on his research in archaeology, history, philology, and folklore. Maintaining progressive democratic views, Stasov relied in his critical works on the aesthetic principles of the Russian revolutionary democrats—V. G. Belinskii, A. I. Herzen, and N. G. Cherny-shevskii. He considered realism and narodnost’ (the popular nature of art) to be the bases of progressive contemporary art. Stasov was opposed to academic art, which was far removed from life and had its official center in Russia at the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. He advocated realistic art and the democratization of artistic life.

A man of great erudition, Stasov was a friend of many progressive artists, musicians, and writers. He advised a number of them and defended them against the attacks of reactionary official criticism. He was actively associated with the Artists’ Artel, the Society of Wandering Art Exhibitions (peredvizhniki), and the New School of Russian Music, whose members he called the Mighty Bunch (the Russian Five). Stasov was the first to appreciate and support the work of M. M. Antokol’skii, V. M. Vasnetsov, V. V. Vereshchagin, I. N. Kramskoi, V. G. Perov, and I. E. Repin. He regularly published articles analyzing and supporting their new works.

In analyzing the artistic imagery of a work, Stasov denounced vestiges of the feudal serf-owning and bourgeois-autocratic orders in Russia. He affirmed the democratic ideals of freedom and people’s rights and instilled in both artists and their audiences a spirit of patriotism. Stasov consistently defended independent national paths of development for the Russian school of composers and was influential in the formation of the aesthetic and creative principles of the Russian Five. His 30-odd works on the music of M. I. Glinka, including a detailed monograph (1857), greatly helped to popularize that composer. Stasov also wrote influential monographs on the composers M. P. Mussorgsky and A. P. Borodin and the artists K. P. Briullov, A. A. Ivanov, Vereshchagin, Perov, Repin, Kramskoi, N. N. Ge, and Antokol’skii. He also wrote profiles of a number of performing artists, including O. A. Petrov and A. Rubinstein. He praised the work of A. K. Glazunov, A. K. Liadov, A. N. Skriabin, and F. Chaliapin.

Stasov was one of the first to systematically collect and publish the letters of Russian artists and composers; he published the letters of Kramskoi, Antokol’skii, A. A. Ivanov, Glinka, A. S. Dar-gomyzhskii, A. N. Serov, and Mussorgsky. As an art historian, he affirmed the importance of the realistic traditions of Velasquez, Rembrandt, Hals, and Goya. He was also instrumental in making popular in Russia the music of Beethoven, Liszt, Berlioz, Chopin, and Grieg.

Stasov’s articles were publicistic and polemical. In the heat of argument he sometimes fell victim to a certain one-sidedness and was excessively critical of some outstanding artistic developments. Nonetheless, he made a major contribution to the solution of extremely important problems of Russian realistic aesthetics. Concern over Russian art permeated Stasov’s extensive correspondence with artists, writers, and musicians. His works belong to the classical heritage of Russian artistic thought.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–4. St. Petersburg, 1894–1906.
Izbr. soch., vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1952.
Pis’ma k rodnym, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1953–62.


V. V. Stasov: Sb. statei i vospominanii. Compiled by E. D. Stasova. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
“K izucheniiu naslediia V. V. Stasova.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1974, no. 7.
Lebedev, A. K., and A. V. Solodovnikov. V. V. Stasov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestva. Moscow, 1976.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
After visiting Venice, he settled in Paris, but was nonetheless subject to a certain amount of scrutiny from both Petr Iseev, conference secretary of the Academy, and the influential Russian literary critic Vladimir Stasov. Repin found the Louvre, with its over-varnished and poorly displayed pictures, rather gloomy.
Consequently, Bulycheva suggests that Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov ignored Borodin's intentions at will, possibly at the instigation of Vladimir Stasov, who wanted to see the opera completed more (but not quite) along the lines of his original scenario, devised in 1869 (p.
In the latter category, Donskov mentions the names of the artists Ilya Repin and Leonid Pasternak, the composers Sergei Taneev and Anton Arensky, the philosophers Nikolai Grot and Pavel Bakunin, the directors Konstantin Stanislavskii and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, and the literary critics Nikolai Strakhov and Vladimir Stasov, as well as a great number of writers and publishers such as (amongst others) Fet, Turgenev, Gorky, Zinaida Gippius, Nikolai Leskov, and Anna Dostoevskaya.
During his early years the young Findeizen could not help but be receptive to the wealth of musical activity burgeoning in the Russian capital, a strong influence on him being that of the nationalist writer, art critic and polymath Vladimir Stasov (1824-1906).
Of the three figures central to my discussion, Anton Rubinstein is usually counted among the westerners; Vladimir Stasov is usually counted among the nationalists; and Alexander Serov, who died much earlier than the other two, is often thought of as being outside the fray, usually expressing nationalist views, yet often turning to the West for inspiration in his own compositional activity.
In 1861 Rubinstein condemns both the all-pervading amateurism of Russian musical life and the State's denial of professional musical status to musicians, then proceeds to make the case for establishing a conservatoire; Vladimir Stasov answers him clearly in a tone that is notably restrained, compared with what he showed himself capable of elsewhere.
Petersburg conservatory (which Sargeant notes) and assistant to Vladimir Stasov at the Public Library (which she does not note).
Importantly, it won him the approval of the eminent critic Vladimir Stasov; from then on, the appearance of his major pictures always occasioned great interest.
The old notions, promoted primarily by the chief propagandist for The Five, Vladimir Stasov, and largely expropriated by the Soviets for their own ends, have proven unreliable as a true representation of Russian music.
Petersburg, where she was introduced to the activities and music of the members of the Mighty Handful and subsequently had personal meetings with Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev and Vladimir Stasov. In the capital, she took lessons with Yulia Platonova, a keen supporter of the music of the "new Russian school," and particularly that of Mussorgsky.
Biographical materials consist of not only a formal biographical essay by Grigory Timofeev (first published in 1912 and heavily dependent on Vladimir Stasov's pioneering biography of 1889), but also Borodin's autobiographical note prepared for Hugo Riemann's dictionary, and the full text of a letter to Lyubov Karmalina, dated "1/13 June 1876." With his selection of Timofeev's work, Kuhn helps perpetuate the "Stasov line" on the Mighty Handful, and Stasov's views, though long venerated, are far from objective.