Gypsymania took both literary and musical forms during the early nineteenth century. The gypsy theme—imagined scenes from their life and customs—captivated Russian poets. Alexander Pushkin's contributions gained popularity and immediately entered the literary canon. Gypsymania in music (tsyganshchina ) outlasted the literary genres. Its sources—choirs comprising free, serf, and state peasant ethnic gypsies (Roma) and Russian composers who adapted gypsy motifs to popular romances—were blended by star performers such as Stesha (Stepanida Sidorovna Soldatova, 1784–1822) and her successors. Tsyganshchina's attraction rested on lyrics, music, and performance style. Song lyrics represented gypsies as hot-blooded, wild in love, cruel in hatred, and enamored of freedom and the open road. The music was marked by sharp contrasts and sudden changes of tempo. The critic Apollon Grigorev wrote in 1847: "If you seek sounds, if you seek expression for those undefined, incomprehensible, sorrowful 'blues' (khandra ), you make off to the Gypsies, immerse yourself in the hurricane of these wild, passionate, oppressively passionate songs." An English visitor to a Moscow cafe during the 1850s described the performance of a gypsy choir wearing expensive and gaudy garments. They sat or lay on the floor; the soloist was joined by the company who drank and smoked as they strolled from table to table, stamping their feet. As cafes, restaurants, and phonograph records proliferated during the early twentieth century, gypsymania launched the careers of a half dozen superstars of the era who often emulated in life the emotional turbulence of their songs. Most Russians found them irresistible.
Critics accepted both the traditional music of the Roma, because it bore a folkish spirit, and the stylizations of composers at play like Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. The middle range, by far the most popular, invited rancor: the local vernacular adorned with gypsy devices of rhythm, sonority, instrumentation, and phrasing. In Russia, songs composed in the gypsy manner, such as "Two Guitars" and "Dark Eyes," evoked repugnance among some critics. Ironically, genuine gypsies when playing Roma music also borrowed from local styles, and this habit accounts for the huge variety among the various authentic gypsy styles from Spain to Finland. Under Bolshevism, hostility to tsyganshchina took on a political edge. During the 1920s, classical musicians lamented its vulgarity, and proletarian composers charged the music with inciting decadence, bourgeois values, and miscreant sexuality. The gypsy genre disappeared during the Cultural Revolution (1928–1931), and a form of gypsy music was partially revived, in a sanitized form, with the founding of the Teatr Romen in 1931 where something like genuine Roma performances were mounted. Recordings by other Soviet singers of selected gypsy songs were released under the watchful eye of the censors. With the coming of glasnost under Mikhail Gorbachev, every kind of previously taboo gypsy songs resurfaced, only to be drowned out soon by Western rock and hip-hop.
See also: folk music; gypsy; pushkin, alexander sergeyevich
Stites, Richard. (1992). Russian Popular Culture: Entertainment and Society since 1900. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
"Gypsymania." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 24, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gypsymania
"Gypsymania." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gypsymania
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.