The Moscow Conservatory: From the Russian Musical Society to the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment

Vladimir I. Adishchev


The history of the Moscow Conservatory has been actively researched, however, many themes and subjects from its
past have remained insufficiently studied up to the present time. Among them are the activities of the Conservatory during
its first post-revolutionary years, in particular, the procedure of its nationalization and transferal from subservience to
the Russian Musical Society (RMS) to the jurisdiction of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment (Narkompros). It
becomes possible to fill in the indicated gap by means of turning to archival sources, which bear witness that in mid-1918
the Narkompros prepared the project of a special decree about the separation of the conservatories of the two capital cities
from the RMS and their transferal to the Narkompros. This project was examined and affirmed with a few minor changes
at the session of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR on July 12, 1918. The “Decree Concerning the
Moscow and Petrograd Conservatories” proclaimed these educational institutions as belonging to the state, equal in their
status to institutions of higher education. After this decree was issued, a specially created commission of representatives
of the RMS, the Narkompros, its Music Section and the Moscow Conservatory carried out the acceptance and transferal
of the Conservatory from one department to the other. The Narkompros, and from it the Conservatory, received from the
RMS financial means, the building with the concert halls, the musical instruments present in it, various other property
and the inventory. From the 1918–1919 academic year the Conservatory gradually began to witness transformations
taking place in it along the vein of establishment of the cultural and educational polity of the Soviet regime.

Keywords: Russian Musical Society (RMS), People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment, the Moscow Conservatory.

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