Res Musica 15 (2023)

The journal includes a number of articles on music history, one of which, Risto Paju’s “Carved Stone Singer and Shawm”, takes us back centuries to describe musical life on the basis of physical evidence. The remaining three history articles explore the musical period ranging from the 1940s to the 1970s – a period that some readers may recall personally. Adorno’s warnings about music written to please the mass media and the entertainment-seeking masses and its dangers to the psyche were borne out to some extent in the Soviet Union, where the authorities sought to censor music by stipulations regarding the content of musical scores and appropriate instrumental accompaniments; the Party’s desire was, among other things, to use music to control the masses and to prevent any kind of deeper psychological analysis of music which might have led people to “wrong” ideas. At the same time, music could not be too frivolous and entertaining, as academician Tõnu Tannberg describes in his article “How to Sovietise Jazz?”. In her article “Tallinn State Conservatoire’s 1948 Academic Session in the Context of Soviet Ideology”, Meeta Morozov, a junior researcher at EAMT, offers an insight into what exactly proper, ideal music and musicology was supposed to be during the Soviet era. In Anu Veenre’s article “Collaborative Authorship of a Musical Composition and its Playful Elements as a Reflection of Generational Like-Mindedness of Composers in Malera Kasuku’s Piano Trio (1977)”, which concludes the history section of the journal, the author analyses a unique collaborative work in Estonian music history, the story of its birth and reception, and also describes in detail what took place at the working meeting of the Estonian SSR Composers’ Union when the new work was approved.

“What is music psychology?” and “Who is a music psychologist?” are not questions that can be answered in a few words. On the shelves of libraries there are many books with the words “music” and “psychology” in the title, but their tables of contents begin to reveal differences that are due primarily to the academic background, interests and, of course, personality of the author. Jaan Ross has never made a secret of the fact that his choice of title for his 2007 book Twelve lectures on the psychology of music is borrowed from Adorno’s Twelve theoretical lectures on the sociology of music. Although Adorno is recognised first as a music philosopher, in Estonia Ross has been the primary proponent of his ideas, particularly through his psychology courses. In his book Ross devotes an entire chapter to Adorno, and for a long time this was one of the few Estonian texts about Adorno that could be read by and discussed with students. When Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music, translated by Ross, was finally published in Estonian in 2020, it was overshadowed by the COVID pandemic and only came into active use in higher education two years later, when the open course “How Adorno speaks to us today” was launched in the spring semester of 2022 at EAMT. This issue of Res Musica reprints the essential texts of this course: professor Toomas Siitan’s introductory and intriguingly titled article “What Ails Adorno?”, professor Kristel Pappel’s contribution “The Idea is Timeless. Some Aspects of Schoenberg’s Thought and Work” and EAMT researcher Aare Tool’s insight into the Adorno era: “Theodor W. Adorno’s Radio Theory: An Interpretation from the Estonian Perspective of the 1920s and 1930s”, where radio listening and the distribution of recorded music were as popular (and viewed with as much scepticism by intellectuals) as social media and TikTok are today. This open course turned out to be extremely popular, attracting students and lecturers from EAMT, Tallinn University and the University of Tartu. The course was concluded by a panel discussion entitled “Whose heart has a place for Adorno?”, the transcript of which can also be found within the covers of this publication. The panel discussion linked Adorno’s open course with the spring conference of the Estonian Musicological Society, which was dedicated to the 65th birthday of Jaan Ross. A number of the presentations given at this event have been redrafted as articles for this issue of Res Musica. In the Jubilate section of the journal, readers can find articles by two of Jaan Ross’s friends and colleagues – Jane Ginsborg and Irina Belobrovtseva – about Ross and his achievements as a researcher, as a board member of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) and as a translator of fiction.

In the article “In Celebration of Jaan Ross: Perspectives on ESCOM and Musicæ Scientiæ”, professor Jane Ginsborg, editor-in-chief of the academic journal Musicæ Scientiæ, shares her personal encounter with Jaan Ross through two parallel timelines. The first of these describes the author’s own research journey and the beginnings of the development of music psychology as an institutional discipline in Europe. The second timeline similarly traces the activities of Jaan Ross, with Ginsborg following Ross’s academic biography and moving on to more personal reminiscences after the start of their closer collaboration on the ESCOM board. Both Ginsborg’s and Ross’s paths to music psychology are characterised by the overall interdisciplinarity of the field and by the diverse academic profiles of the researchers working in it.

Irina Belobrovtseva, professor of literature at Tallinn University, is a long-time friend and colleague of Jaan Ross who shares his love of Russian literature. Belobrovtseva’s article “Fully Complying with Murphy’s Law: Jaan Ross as a Translator of Fiction” gives an overview of Jaan Ross’s work as a translator of contemporary Russian novels. The works Ross chooses to translate always carry a deeper meaning. His method of translation is not just a matter of fiddling with the nuances of the text, but a systematic approach. Jaan Ross is legendary for the fact that whatever topic he starts with, he first sets it in a geographical perspective, usually mentioning if and when exactly he has personally visited the place in question, what he has seen and experienced there, and the state of the roads leading there (Ross, by the way, also enjoys driving). It is no wonder, then, that when translating a living writer’s text, he does not hesitate to contact the author to clarify the details of the locations described in the novel.

I wish you a similar level of dedication and attentiveness in reading this issue of Res Musica.

Marju Raju