The opinion that the Albanian press shares on the music of socialist realism
When it comes to a sonata or a symphony, where there are no commissioners, party secretaries, or heroes of socialist work, the principle of partisanship in music (this absurd requirement) can hardly be interpreted. Meanwhile, allegations of folk or democratic music largely damaged the essence of music as an elite art. All these elements, which have nothing to do with what creative methods mean, were best overcome in the dozens of works of our new tradition, at the same time they paved the way for mediocre divulgative schematic creativity-this would be the Albanian musical landscape for 50 years.The method of socialist realism, such a method that was not a method, was not merely the one that fed our musical creativity. In the best examples, it was the research of creators, personal artistic experiences, professionalism, which regardless of orientation in one style or another, made what we call today the Albanian professional music tradition.”
But how was Albanian music during Socialist realism really like? The answer to this question is found in an article written by the composer Vasil.S. Tole (1995), who, among other things writes: … although writing in the tonal manner was not and still is not a mistake or even a “relative” retardation of thinking and writing, the tendentious deepening of its usage was a fatality … This was the first taboo of Albanian soc-realism. With it came the restriction of the musical expression only with one language, the tonal language, which understandably closed one of the paths of freedom of creation. In the Albanian schools, all that was taught was the world heritage included the years up until 19th century, the music of the twentieth century was unduly excluded, due to the fact that music began to change … Zhdanov’s saying “dissonance is the enemy of the people” is the most extreme case to show the ideology of the musical parameter … The second taboo of soc-realism was in programmatic music, where ideology was introduced. The direct emergence of these works became uniformity and extreme schematism. But while analyzing the deprivations and damages that caused censorship on the creative process in general, Tole is equally inclined to assert that all that programmatic music that stands with dignity in our musical tradition was able to out-top that ideology in time. Time has be the best judge and given its true evaluation.But speaking of deprivations, values and anti-values, one can not overlook what happened within the process. Especially during the ’70s and ’80s, when music in Albania reached a sufficient level of maturity, a period filled with research and experimenting efforts towards contemporary creative concepts. Feim Ibrahimi, who became practically the head of these processes, about 40 years later, in the article titled The Method, “socialist realism” had no other meaning but that of politicization and ideology (Gazeta Drita 1996, Albanian for “Drita” newspaper), he writes in the position of a creator, a creator who was attacked not less at that time: … even in that suffocating space, we were able to utilize them few opportunities to seek new forms of expression. Numerous controversies in the press of the “tradition and novelty” problems (at that time it was highly risky to speak of such terms such as “Ars Nova” latin for New Art) were practically brave attempts to open up and track contemporary European music streams. Many valuable works and advanced steps in attempt of searching new roads became “victim” of fierce “ideological” criticism and supposedly “avoidance” from the so called nationality”. This naturally had negative impacts on the composers and made them step back from their research … politicization and ideology led to the schematization of many works, especially those programmatic ones. And further on, he asserts that: regardless of such great pressure coming from both within and from the outside of the “zealous” musicians, in judging the creativity and overall development of music in the past 50 years we must be realistic and avoid extremist stances that deny everything has been created. Above all, we should appreciate and preserve those great national values … What can be broken today will very difficult and impossible to be fixed tomorrow.
And indeed this is what happened. If we were to refer to Ibrahim’s own creativity, which was part of that ideology and standard, what we would have to admit in advance is the fact that the author managed to create music of genuine value and in that sense defined his creative individuality. In this case, just as it has been proven to have happened at all times, the attires of the “method”, the official “canons” with which seems to be achieved a compromise, are pervaded in forms and expressions that significantly outweigh the constraints of the standard. Didn’t Prokofiev and Shostakovich do the same, with a nearly genial force, in the real homeland of the method?
Music as the “Offspring” of art is composed, but also judged and evaluated only as such – this is the title and essence of the problem in an interview with the composer Shpëtim Kushta, on “Drita” newspaper 1996. The problem remains the same it is the approach that varies. The author sees music in broader perspectives, as a piece of art that goes beyond all ideologies of all the wits of the time: music is a specific art, it is special and it is an “elite” art. It is very “technical”, so in order to develop he would need the school institution to come at its help, it is school that cultivates and enriches it. And school, that is indispensable not only for music, but for all the arts in general, in our country came too late and this was not the result of socialist realism, however, it was due to a number of historical factors in our country … this is one more thing that speaks of the efforts and the great sacrifice of Albanian composers, who within few years created a tradition. This approach is not just microscopic, as the author does not accept the use of the term “ideological music” but thinks that there are mediocre works and states that: Those who did not reach it with the “strength” of the sounds, they reached it with the help of “ideology”. Then the sounds, the programs, the hymns, the drums spread everywhere! … Not to forget the rows of servile musicians and careerists in the background … Today this creativity has no value, because its foundation is not art but compromise, mediocrity … The problem stands in those serious works that were composed with will, passion and professionalism. Regardless of the titles, their appreciation and reassessment should be made only by the artistic logic, out of any complex, prejudice, not by the “ideological” position otherwise we would be creating an absurd “nebula”!
The above writings belong to the press of the years 1995-1996. After these years, these debates have been silent, though further researches on this issue would be more than indispensable. However, the perceptions of the aforementioned authors merge a fundamental idea, that music, like all arts, should be seen as a product of values or anti values. And these are the values on which the tradition is built, which, despite extramarital factors, should be preserved.