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Two famous allegations of formalism[
The proscription of formalism was not restricted to the Soviet Union. For instance, in Poland immediately after World War II the Stalinist regime insisted that composers adopt Socialist realism, and those who would not do so, including Witold Lutosławski and Andrzej Panufnik, had performances of their compositions banned in Poland for being "formalist". Other Eastern Bloc countries experienced similar restrictions (Zoltán Kodály complained to Panufnik of similar problems facing composers in Hungary).
The term has also been used to designate an approach to writing about music history, sometimes called the "Great Works" approach (in analogy to "Great Books") where the music history is conceived in terms of relationships between works of art, to the exclusion of considering cultural contexts. Joseph Kerman's influential book Contemplating Music called for the re-contextualization of musical works and greater investigation into their cultural milieux rather than their subsequent status in the musical canon. This was parallel to the New Historicism in other historical fields, wherein everyday life was deemed as worthy of investigation as great men and great wars.
While not necessarily advocating a return to formalism, Lawrence Kramer has criticized the movement for reducing works of art to cultural artifacts and tending to denigrate both "meaning" in music and the "value" of exceptional works.
- Hanslick, Eduard (1854). Vom Musikalisch-Schönen. Leipzig.
- Ob opere ”Velikaya družba” V. Muradely, postanovlaniem TsK VKP(b) ot 10 fevralya 1948 i. In: Izvestiya 11 February 1948.
- Walker, Jonathan. "Formalism". In The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-19-866212-9.