The publishing house Kompozitor offers today a landmark text—a primary source in music theory—Stroyeniye Muzykal’noin Rechi by Bolelsav Yavorsky. From now on you may wish to call it differently: The Design of Musical Speech—that is how we have translated its title. The book was published in the unquet times as “materials and notes”, in 1908, and was not reissued for 114 years. We enhanced it with newly transcribed archival materials and academic apparatus (preface, comments, vocabulary of terms, etc.). The author was born in Kharkiv, studied in Kyiv and Moscow and absorbed the cutting-edge achievements of German theory of the nineteenth century. The treatise presents something along the lines of “theory for all music.” Yavorsky suggests a path—perhaps, similar to the path to new music of Anton Webern. He also takes the theory of tonal music to the next level. For those of you versed in sciences and interdisciplinary studies the book will be fun to read: Yavorsky leans toward general scientific discourse with strong components of physics, psychology, philosophy and what today is called social sciences. Together with that, the book is written in a rigorous professional style. Enough is to say that its terminology and categorical apparatus have become a common language for most Eastern European theorists and they still speak “yavorsky.” We invite you to participate in a dialogue with that remarkable culture of fin de siècle in that rather specific but rich musical-theoretical language.
Translator and editor Ildar Khannanov, Baltimore, November 2022