The history of our educational and scientific approach “World Music Cultures” started at the end of the 1970s, when a composer Givani Mikhailov (1938–1995) appeared at the Moscow Conservatory for the first time. The man with an unusual biography, bright appearance and unique experience, Mikhailov was met by the conservatory fellowship in an ambiguous way: some were deeply interested in his way of thinking, whereas others were embarrassed, not to say shocked.
Soviet musicology used to lean on steady ideological positions: it was proper to believe that the system of approaches developed on the basis of an analysis of music written by European composers could be applied to all music from any part of the world; therefore, then, back to the 1970s, Mikhailov’s ideas about plurality and mutual otherness of musical traditions did not seem quite convincing.
Thanks to his creative travels over, and work in, many countries of Asia, Africa and America, as well as to his acquaintances and friendships with prominent musicians of most diversified traditions, Mikhailov was able to learn their music through his own ear rather than through books and other intellectual ways of study. An ability to veraciously comprehend and excitingly explain various phenomena of other music cultures let him develop his non-standard ideas, and then, step by step, he brought up a circle of like-minded fellows, on the basis of which a new structure has been formed at the Moscow Conservatory.
It changed its name and status several times: a laboratory at first, then a sector, later a department, — and finally, it has been officially established as the “World Music Cultures Center” since 1995. The history of Jivani Mikhailov’s school has had a number of remarkable pages, and we shall gradually tell about them both in this segment of the website and in the block Events.
Today, the “World Music Cultures Center” is an integral segment of the International Cooperation Department of Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory, and it has been implementing various creative projects. In order to optimize its tasks, the Center has been developing some informal structures: for example, the Russian-Japanese Center of Music Culture; as well as founding some performing groups (such as a Japanese music ensemble “Wa-On,” a Chinese music ensemble “Dragon and Phoenix,” an Iranian music group “Caravan”), and carrying out highly professional artistic direction over their activities.
The Center has possessed some funds of unique materials, including Jivani Mikhailov’s archives, as well as specialized libraries of books, scores, CDs and DVDs. The Center has been holding creative meetings and lectures, organizing numerous concerts and theatrical projects (such as “Legend of the Flower of Style” and an opera “O-Natsu”), as well as performing other scientific and enlightening actions. Also, the Center has been continuously developing several large-scale international projects, such as “The Universe of Sound,” “The Heart of Japan,” “The Arctide Descendants”, “We Gather Friends,” and others.
The Center has been carrying out its educational activities on the basis of Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory. They include lecture courses for graduate and post-graduate students, researches for their diplomas and dissertations, as well as teaching classes of Chinese, Indian and Japanese music.