Music in The Master and Margarita

music in The Master and Margarita; Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
 music in The Master and Margarita; Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov
music in Master and Margarita; Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokoviev

 

 

 

 

 

Question for Discussion: The Role of Music in The Master and Margarita

One of the more obvious, and delightful, elements of this story is the role of music in The Master and Margarita. Notably, many characters bear the names of famous composers: Berlioz, Rimsky, and Stravinsky, to name a few. In addition, a number of scenes feature actual music, either being played, or heard on the radio. Consequently the novel often seems to provide its own soundtrack. So what are among the ways Bulgakov uses music in this novel, and what do these say about his musical tastes?

Some things to consider include:

How does he present Jazz music, which in his time was an American phenomenon that was sweeping the globe? What are we to make of the description, during the party at Satan’s, that the jazz band and the orchestra seem to be “warring” with each other?

Does the representation of characters reflect Bulgakov’s view of the music created by a character’s namesake? For example: can the music of Berlioz be said to be “bald, and terribly eloquent”? Should the “voice” of Rimsky-Korsakov compositions be described as “sharp and unpleasant”? And could Prokofiev’s music be characterized as ebullient, and with a certain joie de vivre, like Margarita’s housekeeper Natasha Prokofievna?

Another related question concerns how Bulgakov felt about radio broadcasts, which had begun airing in Moscow only a few years before he started to write this novel. Especially notable is the music from the opera Yevgeniy Onegin, booming from radios everywhere in Moscow; out of doors, windows, rooftops, basements, courtyards . . . accompanying, and torturing, Ivan as he searches the streets of Moscow for the devious consultant, or professor. Radio makes other intriguing appearances in the novel as well.

Feel free to comment on any of these questions, and pose others in this discussion of music in The Master and Margarita.

music in The Master and Margarita; Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
music in The Master and Margarita; Bix Beiderbecke
Jazz Orchestra-Wolverines, 1924

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Published: New Translation of ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov

I am pleased to announce the initial publication my translation of the 20th century Russian classic, The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. Translating this novel from Russian to English has been a joy and an obsession; I finally feel that it is translated, edited, proofed and formatted to my satisfaction, and so ready to go out into the world. Currently it is only available as a Kindle e-book, but is days away from release as a trade-paperback. It will also soon be available on Apple’s iBooks store and at Barnes & Noble. Continue reading “Just Published: New Translation of ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov”

‘The Master and Margarita:’ Cover, for New, English Language Translation of Bulgakov’s Classic Novel.

This is the Master and Margarita cover I made for my translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s awesome tale of the extraordinary in 1930s Moscow, which will be published before the end of of 2017:

The Master and Margarita
Cover of soon-to-be published new, English translation by John Dougherty of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita ©2017

Continue reading “‘The Master and Margarita:’ Cover, for New, English Language Translation of Bulgakov’s Classic Novel.”