Composer and cultural official Nicolas Nabokov (1903-78) led an unusual life even for a composer who was also a high-level diplomat.
Nabokov was for nearly three decades an outstanding and far-sighted player in international cultural exchanges during the Cold War, much admired by some of the most distinguished minds of his century for the range of his interests and the breadth of his vision. Nicolas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music follows Nabokov's life through its fascinating details: a privileged Russian childhood before the Revolution; exile, first to Germany, then to France; the beginnings of a promising musical career, launched under the aegis of Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes with Ode in 1928; his twelve-year "American exile" during which he occupied several academic positions; his return to Europe after the war to participate in the denazification of Germany; his involvement in anti-Stalinist causes in the first years of the Cold War; his participation in the Congress for Cultural Freedom; his role as cultural adviser to the Mayor of Berlin and director of the Berlin Festival in the early 1960s; the resumption of his American academic and musical career in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Nabokov is unique not only in that he was involved on a high level in international cultural politics, but also in that his life intersected at all times with a vast array of people within, and also well beyond, the confines of classical music. Drawing on a vast array of primary sources, Vincent Giroud's first-ever biography of Nabokov will be of interest readers interested in twentieth-century music, Russian music, Russian emigration, and the Cold War, particularly in its cultural aspects.
Musicians and musicologists interested in Nabokov as a composer, or in twentieth century Russian composers in general, will find in the book information not available anywhere else.