Death of Putin’s bandmaster, 72

Death of Putin’s bandmaster, 72


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2020

The death has been announced of Major General Viktor Afanasyev, commander of the Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of Russia from 1993 to 2002.


  • MacroV says:

    Please. He was retired for 18 years, and worked only two years into Putin’s regime. Unless he signed the letter endorsing the annexation of Crimea, it seems an inappropriate designation. He was a conductor and a career military officer, a professional soldier. You wouldn’t call Col. Jason Fettig, Director of the “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, “Trump’s Bandmaster.” At least I hope you wouldn’t.

  • Russia has 200 to 300 military bands and a remarkable intense military band culture. The USA has 130 bands. It spends 3 times more on military bands than it does the entire NEA, and about ten times what the NEA spends on music.

    There are seemingly obvious links between the prominence of military music and the militarism of cultures. Russia, the USA, and the UK are notable examples.

    Western classical music stands apart for the degree to which it is regimented and hierarchical. And in the case of the orchestra, the degree to which it is authoritarian. In the 19th century, it was also closely correlated with cultural nationalism. These correlations are worthy of closer study. it might help us better understand who we are.

    • Fred Funk says:

      There’s TWO MAJOR Army Bands within 20 miles in the DC area alone.

      These 2 premier bands are so poorly coordinated, they can’t even get 35 musicians into a tour bus, for a bag band concert, at a national convention that advocates for the military music programs. 105 total activities for the Army alone (active/reserve).

      Google Army band stolen. Hundreds of $$$$ in wasted gear because they can’t either watch the stuff, or secure it from being stolen.

      Whose running these bands?

      They’ve got a higher suicide rate than the regular military.

      The band in Heidelberg had a clown that wanted to be at Midwest, while the buses were failing. Making regular trips to England, to supervise a quintet.

      Make a FOIA request on the army bands funding alone. What you’ve wrote isn’t grounded in reality of what they’re really doing.

      • Can you provide any documentation for this information? The Army Band’s instrument truck was stolen in 1994, but that was a long time ago, and something that plagues all traveling musicians. Are there other instances? I would especially like to see documentation about the high suicide rate you claim exists. The military is notoriously clumsy, wasteful, and inefficient, but we need sources for your assertions.

    • MacroV says:

      The Marine Band is worth every penny. Don’t worry; they’re not too martial. Yesterday they were playing Carnival Overture, Lincolnshire Posy, and the first Holst Suite; a wind ensemble geek special. And of course a good bit of Sousa, who’s about as militaristic as Johann Strauss Jr.

      The Dutch have a pretty good military band, too, and last I checked nobody was too concerned about the militarism of their culture.

      • Bill says:

        Militaristic? Yhen you want Prussian marches. Piefke etc. Sousa’s marches are snappy, not bombastic. Many of the trios are outright beautiful tunes.

      • Two differences in your comparison:

        1. The Netherlands doesn’t spend 3 times more on military bands than its entire national art funding programs.
        2. The Netherlands military hasn’t killed 4 million brown people in illegal and unjustified wars since WWII.

        Perhaps you can see the correlations.

        And about your misinformation:

        The Marine Corps’ ceremonial units, which includes the bands, hold closer to old Prussian concepts of Kadaverhehörsmkeit (Cadaver Obediance) than almost any other military in the world aside from Russia. The drills in both countries can be sickening or laughable depending on one’s perspectives.

        It is true, however, that the US military bands try to play down their military character since this could impede their PR, recruitment, and propaganda functions. They are to have the look of free-wheeling citizen soldiers to entice young people to enlist, and to make illegal wars seem patriotic. The Army even has a rock band, a kind of 1950s Boy-Scoutish, Leave-It-To-Beaver group to make the military look cool. This image of hipness helps them recruit the sort of well-trained functionaries who run video game screens to kill uppity brown people on the other side of the planet.

        To harvest the 1.3 million bodies to supply our military, it has conducted a peacetime propaganda campaign on its own citizens that has few historical comparisons. This has fundamentally altered the character of American society, of which Trump is a natural manifestation.

        And I ask the readers to forgive me if I do not discuss these issues with the cowardly, anonymous reactionaries who frequent this forum.

  • IVAN THE MILD says:

    MAJOR AFANASYEV most notably assasinated a Ukranian singer using his conducting baton because Putin was displeased with her choice of repertoire.