The Master and Margarita

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The Master and Margarita
First single-volume edition
and first edition in English
AuthorMikhail Bulgakov
Original titleМастер и Маргарита
CountrySoviet Union
GenreFantastic, farce, mysticism, romance, satire
Publication date
1966–67 (in serial form), 1967 (in single volume), 1973 (uncensored version)
Published in English
Media typePrint (hard & paperback)
ISBN0-14-118014-5 (Penguin paperback)
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The Master and Margarita
First single-volume edition
and first edition in English
AuthorMikhail Bulgakov
Original titleМастер и Маргарита
CountrySoviet Union
GenreFantastic, farce, mysticism, romance, satire
Publication date
1966–67 (in serial form), 1967 (in single volume), 1973 (uncensored version)
Published in English
Media typePrint (hard & paperback)
ISBN0-14-118014-5 (Penguin paperback)

The Master and Margarita (Russian: «Ма́стер и Маргари́та») is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, written between 1928 and 1940 but unpublished in book form until 1967. It is woven around a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider it to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, and the foremost of Soviet satires. In part, it is angled against a suffocatingly bureaucratic social order.


Bulgakov started writing the novel in 1928. He burned the first manuscript of the novel in 1930, seeing no future as a writer in the Soviet Union.[1] The work was restarted in 1931. In 1935 Bulgakov went to the Spaso House, the residence of U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union William Bullitt, which was transformed by Bulgakov into the Walpurgis Night ball of the novel.[2] The second draft was completed in 1936, by which point all the major plot lines of the final version were in place. There would follow four other versions. Bulgakov stopped writing four weeks before his death in 1940, leaving the novel with some unfinished sentences and some loose ends.

A censored version, with about 12 percent of the text removed and still more changed, was first published in Moscow magazine (no. 11, 1966 and no. 1, 1967).[3] The text of all the omitted and changed parts, with indications of the places of modification, was printed and distributed by hand (in a dissident practice known as samizdat). In 1967, the publisher Posev (Frankfurt) printed a version produced with the aid of these inserts.

In the Soviet Union, the first complete version, prepared by Anna Saakyants, was published by Khudozhestvennaya Literatura in 1973, based on the version completed at the beginning of 1940, as proofread by the publisher. This version remained the canonical edition until 1989, when the last version, based on all available manuscripts, was prepared by Lidiya Yanovskaya.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel alternates between two settings. The first is 1930s Moscow, where Satan appears at the Patriarch Ponds in the guise of "Professor" Woland, a mysterious gentleman "magician" of uncertain origin. He arrives with a retinue that includes the grotesquely-dressed valet Koroviev; the mischievous, gun-happy, fast-talking black cat Behemoth; the fanged hitman Azazello; the pale-faced Abadonna with a death-inflicting stare; and the witch Hella. They wreak havoc targeting the literary elite, and its trade union, MASSOLIT.[note 1] Its privileged HQ is Griboyedov's House, and is made up of corrupt social-climbers and their women (wives and mistresses alike), bureaucrats, profiteers, and, more generally, skeptical unbelievers in the human spirit.

The second setting is the Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate, described by Woland in his conversations with Berlioz and later echoed in the pages of the Master's novel. It concerns Pontius Pilate's trial of Yeshua Ha-Notsri, his recognition of an affinity with and spiritual need for Yeshua, and his reluctant but resigned submission to Yeshua's execution.

Part one of the novel opens with a direct confrontation between the unbelieving head of the literary bureaucracy, Berlioz, and an urbane foreign gentleman who defends belief and reveals his prophetic powers (Woland). Berlioz brushes off the prophecy of his death, only to have it come true just pages later in the novel. This fulfillment of a death prophecy is witnessed by a young and enthusiastically modern poet, Ivan Ponyrev, who writes his poems under the alias Bezdomny (meaning "Homeless"). His futile attempt to chase and capture the "gang" and warn of their evil and mysterious nature lands Ivan in a lunatic asylum. Here, Ivan is later introduced to The Master, an embittered author, the petty-minded rejection of whose historical novel about Pontius Pilate and Christ led him to such despair that he burns his manuscript and turns his back on the "real" world, including his devoted lover, Margarita (Маргарита).

Major episodes in the first part of the novel include a satirical portrait of the Massolit and their Griboyedov house; Satan's magic show at the Variety Theatre, satirizing the vanity, greed and gullibility of the new rich; and Woland and his retinue capturing the late Berlioz's apartment for their own use.

Part two of the novel introduces Margarita, the Master's mistress, who refuses to despair of her lover or his work. She is invited to the Devil's midnight ball, where Satan (Woland) offers her the chance to become a witch with supernatural powers. This coincides with the night of Good Friday since the Master's novel also deals with this same spring full moon when Christ's fate is sealed by Pontius Pilate and he is crucified in Jerusalem. All three events in the novel are linked by this.

Learning to fly and control her unleashed passions (not without exacting violent retribution on the literary bureaucrats who condemned her beloved to despair), and taking her enthusiastic maid Natasha with her, Margarita enters naked into the realm of night. She flies over the deep forests and rivers of the USSR; bathes and returns with Azazello, her escort, to Moscow as the anointed hostess for Satan's great Spring Ball. Standing by his side, she welcomes the dark celebrities of human history as they arrive from Hell.

She survives this ordeal without breaking, and for her pains, Satan offers to grant Margarita her deepest wish. Margarita selflessly chooses to liberate a woman whom she met at the ball from the woman's eternal punishment: the woman was raped and had later suffocated her newborn by stuffing a handkerchief in its mouth. Her punishment was to wake up every morning and find the same handkerchief lying on her nightstand. Satan grants her first wish and offers her another, citing that the first wish was unrelated to Margarita's own desires. For her second wish, she chooses to liberate the Master and live in poverty-stricken love with him.

Neither Woland nor Yeshua appreciates her chosen way of life. Azazello is sent to retrieve them. The three drink Pontius Pilate's poisoned wine in the Master's basement. Master and Margarita die, though their death is metaphorical as Azazello watches their physical manifestations die. Azazello reawakens them and they leave civilization with the Devil as Moscow's cupolas and windows burn in the setting Easter sun. The Master and Margarita, for not having lost their faith in humanity, are granted "peace" but are denied "light" – that is, they will spend eternity together in a shadowy yet pleasant region similar to Dante's depiction of Limbo, having not earned the glories of Heaven, but not deserving the punishments of Hell. As a parallel to the Master and Margarita's freedom, Pontius Pilate is released from his eternal punishment when the Master finally calls out to Pontius Pilate telling him he's free to finally walk up the moonbeam path in his dreams to Yeshua, where another eternity awaits.


Some say, the idea of the novel came to Bulgakov after he visited the office of the "Bezbozhinik" ("Godless person") newspaper.[4]

It was also said the first "Black magic" performance in the novel happened on 12 June — on 12 June 1929, the first Godless people conventioned started in Moscow, which included speeches by Nikolai Bukharin and Yemelyan Yaroslavsky.[5]

There are quite a few theories on how to interprete the novel.

Response to aggressive atheistic propaganda[edit]

One of the possible interpretations of the novel is that of Buglakov's response to poets and writers, who, according to Bulgakov, started atheism propaganda in the Soviet Russia, denying Jesus Christ as a historical character, particularly, to antireligious poems of Demyan Bedny.

As such the novel became a rebuke to the aggressive "godless people". It's not an accident that in both Moscow and Judea part of the novel the reader can see justification of the whole devil's image. Jewish demonology characters are a deliberate retort to the denial of God in the USSR.

Bulgakov was trying to write an apologia proving the existence of the spiritual world. However, the attempt is ad absurdum – the novel shows the reality of evil and demonic powers in this world. And the resulting question is, "If those powers exist, and the world is run by Woland and his entourage, why does this world still exist?".[6]

Occlusive interpretation[edit]

There is a so-called "occlusive interpretation" of the novel. which, among other things, notes the following:

One of the main ideas — the evil origin is inseparable from the our world as light is from the darkness. Satan, as well as the light origin — Yeshua Ha-Notsri, dwell mostly inside people.

Yeshua couldn't see Judas' treachery (despite Pilate's hints) because he only saw good in the people. And he couldn't protect himself, because he didn't know how and from whom.

This interpretation also presumes that Bulgakov had his own vision of Tolstoy's idea of non-resistance to evil through violence, by giving this image of Yeshua.

Freemason interpretation[edit]

It was noted many times in various studies that the novel is abound with Freemason symbols, often shows Freemason rituals which, as the theory implies, originate from the mystery plays of the Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, and, what's very important, shows the Bulgakov had knowledge of the Freemasonry.[7] Bulgakov could obtain this knowledge from his father, Afanasiy Bulgakov and his work "Modern Freemasonry".[8]

The Spring Festival Ball at Spaso House[edit]

One historical event which Bulgakov attended had an important influence on the novel – the Spring Festival at Spaso House, Moscow (the residence of the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union) hosted by Ambassador William Bullitt on 24 April 1935. Bullitt instructed his staff to create an event that would surpass every other Embassy party in Moscow's history. The decorations included a forest of ten young birch trees in the chandelier room, a dining room table covered with Finnish tulips, a lawn made of chicory grown on wet felt; an aviary made from fishnet filled with pheasants, parakeets, and one hundred zebra finches, on loan from the Moscow Zoo; and a menagerie of several mountain goats, a dozen white roosters, and a baby bear.

Although Joseph Stalin did not attend, the four hundred guests at the festival included Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, Defense Minister Kliment Voroshilov, Communist Party luminaries Nikolai Bukharin, Lazar Kaganovich, and Karl Radek, and Soviet Marshals Aleksandr Yegorov, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, and Semyon Budyonny, as well as Bulgakov.

The festival lasted until the early hours of the morning. The bear became drunk on champagne given to him by Karl Radek, and in the early morning hours the zebra finches escaped from the aviary and perched below the ceilings around the house.

Mikhail Bulgakov transformed the Spring Festival into The Spring Ball of the Full Moon, which became one of the most memorable episodes of the novel.[9] On 29 October 2010, seventy-five years after the original ball, as a tribute to Ambassador Bullitt, Bulgakov and the Master and Margarita, John Beyrle, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, hosted an Enchanted Ball at Spaso House, recreating the spirit of the original ball.[10]

Major characters[edit]

Contemporary Russians[edit]

The Master
an author who had written a novel about the meeting of Pontius Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Notsri (Jesus of Nazareth), leading to the ruination of his career by the Soviet literary bureacracy. Is "detained for questioning" for three months by the secret police, because of a false report by an unscrupulous neighbor. Is later committed to a psychiatric clinic, where Bezdomny meets him. Little else is known about this character's past other than his belief that his life had no meaning until he met Margarita.
the Master's lover. Trapped in a passionless marriage; devoted herself to The Master, whom she believes is dead. She appears briefly in the first half of the novel, but is not referred to by name until the second half, where she serves as the hostess of Satan's Grand Ball on Walpurgis Night. The character was mostly inspired by Bulgakov's last wife, whom he called "my Margarita" .[citation needed] Some inspiration may have come from Goethe's Faust's Gretchen — whose real name is Margarita —, as well as Marguerite de Valois. Marguerite was the main character in an opera, Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer, which Bulgakov particularly enjoyed, and a novel by Alexandre Dumas, père, La Reine Margot. In these accounts, the queen is portrayed as daring and passionate.
Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz
Head of the literary bureaucracy MASSOLIT. His last name (Берлиоз) is the same as the French composer Hector Berlioz, who wrote the opera The Damnation of Faust. Berlioz is particularly insistent that the Gospel Jesus was a completely mythical figure with zero historical basis, as opposed to a historic person whose biography was later "embellished" by Christians. Woland predicts that he'll be decapitated by a young Soviet woman, which comes to pass when Berlioz slips on a puddle of sunflower oil and falls under a streetcar.
Ivan Nikolayevich Ponyryov (Bezdomny)
a young, aspiring poet. His pen name Bezdomny (Иван Бездомный) means "homeless". Initially a willing tool of the MASSOLIT apparatus, he is transformed by the events of the novel. He witnesses Berlioz's death and nearly goes mad, but later meets The Master in asylum and decides to stop writing poetry once and for all.
Stephan Bogdanovich Likhodeyev
Director of the Variety Theatre and Berlioz's roommate. Often called by diminutive name Styopa. His surname is derived from the Russian word for "malfeasant". For his wicked deeds (he denounced at least five innocent people as spies so that he and Berlioz can grab their multi-bedroom apartment, he is magically teleported to Yalta — thereby freeing up the stolen apartment for Woland and his retinue.
Grigory Danilovich Rimsky
Treasurer of the Variety Theatre. On the night of Woland's performance Rimsky is ambushed by Varenukha (who has been turned into a vampire by Woland's gang) and Hella. He barely escapes the encounter and flees to the train station to get out of the city.
Ivan Savelyevich Varenukha
House-manager of the Variety Theatre, whose surname refers to a traditional alcoholic fruit-punch resembling mulled wine. He is turned into a creature of darkness but is forgiven by the end of Walpurgis Night, restoring his humanity.
Margarita's young maid, later turned into a witch.
Nikanor Ivanovich Bosoy
Chairman of the House Committee at 302B Sadovaya Street (former residence of Berlioz). For his greed and trickery, was deceived by Koroviev and later arrested.

Woland and his entourage[edit]

Woland (Воланд, also spelled Voland) is Satan in the disguise of a "foreign professor" who is "in Moscow to present a performance of 'black magic' and then expose its machinations". This exposure never occurs; Woland instead exposes the greed and bourgeois behaviour of the spectators themselves.
Behemoth (Бегемот) is a subversive Puss in Boots, the name referring at once to the Biblical monster and the Russian word for Hippopotamus. An enormous demonic black cat (said to be as large as a hog) who speaks, walks on two legs, and can even transform to human shape for brief periods. He has a penchant for chess, vodka, pistols, and obnoxious sarcasm. Evidently the least-respected member of Woland's team—even Margarita boldly takes to slapping Behemoth on the head after one of his many ill-timed jokes, without fear of retribution.
Also known as Fagotto (Фагот, meaning "bassoon" in Russian and other languages), he is described as an "ex-choirmaster", perhaps implying that he was once a member of an angelic choir. He is Woland's assistant, and is capable of creating any illusions, but unlike Behemoth and Azazello, does not use violence at any point.
Azazello (Азазелло) is a menacing, fanged and wall-eyed member of Woland's retinue, a messenger and assassin. His named may be a reference to Azazel, the fallen angel who taught people to make weapons and jewelry, and taught women the "sinful art" of painting their faces (mentioned in the apocryphal Book of Enoch 8:1–3). This connection could explain the magical cream he gives to Margarita.
Hella (Гелла) is a beautiful, redheaded succubus. She serves as maid to Woland and his retinue. Remarked as being "perfect, were it not for a purple scar on her neck" – the scar suggesting that she is also a vampiress.
Abadonna (Азазелло) is a pale-faced, black-goggled angel of death. His name is a reference to Abaddon.

Characters from The Master's novel[edit]

Pontius Pilate
The Roman Procurator of Judaea, a procurator in this case being a governor of a small province. The real Pontius Pilate was the prefect of Judaea, not the procurator.
Yeshua Ha-Notsri
Jesus the Nazarene (Иешуа га-Ноцри), a wanderer or "mad philosopher", as Pilate calls him, whose name in Hebrew means either "Jesus who belongs to the Nazarene sect" or "Jesus who is from a place called Nazareth", though some commentators dispute the latter interpretation.[11] The Master's version of Yeshua describes himself as an orphan, denies doing miracles, and apparently has only one full-time "Apostle", not twelve—among other departures from mainstream Christian tradition. The irony should not be overlooked that the Master's "secularized" Jesus proves to be more offensive to the atheist regime (including Berlioz) than a mystical, miracle-working Jesus would have been.
Head of the Roman Secret Service in Judaea.
Levi Matvei
Levite, former tax collector, follower of Yeshua, and author of the Gospel of St. Matthew. Although introduced as a semi-fictionalized character in the Master's novel, towards the end of The Master and Margarita the "real" Matthew makes a personal appearance in Moscow to deliver a message from Yeshua to Woland.
High Priest of Judaea. Kaifa is interested in Yeshua's death in order to "protect" the status quo religion and his own status as the High Priest from the influence of Yeshua's preachings and followers.
Judas Iscariot
spy/informant hired by Kaifa to assist the authorities in finding and arresting Yeshua. In the Bible, Judas is a long-time member of Jesus's "inner circle" of Apostles, while Bulgakov's Judas meets Yeshua for the first time less than 48 hours before betraying him. Is paid off by Kaifa, but later assassinated on Pilate's orders for his role in Yeshua's death.

Themes and imagery[edit]

Ultimately, the novel deals with the interplay of good and evil, innocence and guilt, courage and cowardice, exploring such issues as the responsibility towards truth when authority would deny it, and the freedom of the spirit in an unfree world. Love and sensuality are also dominant themes in the novel.[12]

Margarita's devotional love for the Master leads her to leave her husband, but she emerges victorious. Her spiritual union with the Master is also a sexual one. The novel is a riot of sensual impressions, but the emptiness of sensual gratification without love is emphatically illustrated in the satirical passages. However, the stupidity of rejecting sensuality for the sake of empty respectability is also pilloried in the figure of Nikolai Ivanovich who becomes Natasha's hog-broomstick.

The interplay of fire, water, destruction and other natural forces provides a constant accompaniment to the events of the novel, as do light and darkness, noise and silence, sun and moon, storms and tranquility, and other powerful polarities. There is a complex relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow throughout the novel, sometimes polyphony, sometimes counterpoint.

The novel is heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust,[13] and its themes of cowardice, trust, intellectual curiosity, and redemption are prominent. Part of its literary brilliance lies in the different levels on which it can be read, as hilarious slapstick, deep philosophical allegory, and biting socio-political satire critical of not just the Soviet system but also the superficiality and vanity of modern life in general – jazz is a favourite target, ambivalent like so much else in the book in the fascination and revulsion with which it is presented. But the novel is also full of modern amenities like the model asylum, radio, street and shopping lights, cars, lorries, trams, and air travel. There is little evident nostalgia for any "good old days" – in fact, the only figure in the book to even mention Tsarist Russia is Satan himself. In another of its facets, perhaps showing a different aspect of Goethe's influence, the book is a Bildungsroman with Ivan Nikolayevich as its focus. Furthermore, there are strong elements of Magical Realism in the novel.

Allusions and references to other works[edit]

The novel is influenced by the Faust legend, particularly the first part of the Goethe interpretation and the opera by Charles Gounod. The work of Nikolai Gogol is also a heavy influence, as is the case with others of Bulgakov's novels. The dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Notsri is strongly influenced by Fyodor Dostoyevsky's parable "The Grand Inquisitor" from The Brothers Karamazov.[14] The luckless visitors chapter references Tolstoy's Anna Karenina: "everything became jumbled in the Oblonsky household". The theme of the Devil exposing society as an apartment block, as it could be seen if the entire facade would be removed, has some precedents in El Diablo cojuelo (1641, The Lame Devil or The Crippled Devil) by the Spaniard Luís Vélez de Guevara (famously adapted to 18th century France by Lesage's 1707 Le Diable boiteux(fr)).

English translations[edit]

There are quite a few published English translations of The Master and Margarita, including but not limited to the following:

Ginsburg's translation was from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete.[citation needed]

The early translation by Glenny runs more smoothly than that of the modern translations; some Russian-speaking readers consider it to be the only one creating the desired effect, though it may be somewhat at liberty with the text.[15] The modern translators pay for their attempted closeness by losing idiomatic flow.

However, according to Kevin Moss, who has at least two published papers on the book in literary journals[verification needed], the early translations by Ginsburg and Glenny are quite hurried and lack much critical depth.[16] As an example, he claims that the more idiomatic translations miss Bulgakov's "crucial" reference to the devil in Berlioz's thought:

Several literary critics have hailed the Burgin/Tiernan O’Connor translation as the most accurate and complete English translation, particularly when read in tandem with the matching annotations by Bulgakov's biographer, Ellendea Proffer.[17] However, these judgements predate the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky. Professor Jeffrey Grossman of the University of Virginia promotes the Karpelson translation in his courses on Faust because Karpelson's rendition balances readability and idiomatic accuracy, though he notes that the book must be specially ordered and requested through the translator, who recalled the book after its publication.

A graphic novel, an adaption by Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal, published by Self Made Hero in 2008 provides a fresh visual translation/interpretation.

Cultural influence of the novel[edit]

The book was listed in Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.

"Manuscripts don't burn"[edit]

A memorable and much-quoted line in The Master and Margarita is: "manuscripts don't burn" (рукописи не горят). The Master is a writer who is plagued by both his own mental problems and the harsh criticism of most of the Soviet writers in the Moscow of the 1930s. He burns his treasured manuscript in an effort to cleanse his own mind from the troubles the work has brought him. Woland later gives the manuscript back to him saying, "Didn't you know that manuscripts don't burn?" There is an autobiographical element reflected in the Master's character here, as Bulgakov in fact burned an early copy of The Master and Margarita for much the same reasons.

The Bulgakov Museums in Moscow[edit]

In Moscow, two museums honor the memory of Mikhail Bulgakov and The Master and Margarita. Both are situated in Bulgakov's old apartment building on Bolshaya Sadovaya street nr. 10, in which parts of The Master and Margarita are set. Since the 1980s, the building has become a gathering spot for Bulgakov's fans, as well as Moscow-based Satanist groups, and had various kinds of graffiti scrawled on the walls. The numerous paintings, quips, and drawings were completely whitewashed in 2003. Previously the best drawings were kept as the walls were repainted, so that several layers of different colored paints could be seen around the best drawings.[18]

There is a rivalry between the two museums, mainly maintained by the later established official Museum M.A. Bulgakov, which invariably presents itself as "the first and only Memorial Museum of Mikhail Bulgakov in Moscow".[19]

The Bulgakov House[edit]

The Bulgakov House (Музей – театр "Булгаковский Дом") is situated at the ground floor. This museum has been established as a private initiative on May 15, 2004.

The Bulgakov House contains personal belongings, photos, and several exhibitions related to Bulgakov's life and his different works. Various poetic and literary events are often held, and excursions to Bulgakov's Moscow are organised, some of which are animated with living characters of The Master and Margarita. The Bulgakov House also runs the Theatre M.A. Bulgakov with 126 seats, and the Café 302-bis.

The Museum M.A. Bulgakov[edit]

In the same building, in apartment number 50 on the fourth floor, is a second museum that keeps alive the memory of Bulgakov, the Museum M.A. Bulgakov (Музей М. А. Булгаков). This second museum is a government initiative, and was founded on March 26, 2007.

The Museum M.A. Bulgakov contains personal belongings, photos, and several exhibitions related to Bulgakov's life and his different works. Various poetic and literary events are often held.

Allusions and references[edit]

Various authors and musicians have credited The Master and Margarita as inspiration for certain works.


Moving pictures[edit]


TV series[edit]

Animated films[edit]

Quite some art school students were inspired by The Master and Margarita to make short animated films. A full list is available on the Master & Margarita website.[47]

Comic strips and graphic novels[edit]

Stage adaptations[edit]


Poster for a stage adaptation of The Master and Margarita in Perm, Russia.

The Master and Margarita has been adapted on stage by more than 500 theatre companies all over the world. A full list of all theatre adaptations is available on the Master and Margarita website.[53]

Ballet, dance theatre[edit]

In 2003 the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre, Russia, presented Master i Margarita, a new full-length ballet set to music by Gustav Mahler, Dmitri Shostakovich, Hector Berlioz, Astor Piazzolla and other composers. Choreography and staging by David Avdysh, set design by Simon Pastukh (USA) and costume design by Galina Solovyova (USA). In 2007 the National Opera of Ukraine, Kiev, premiered David Avdysh's The Master and Margarita, a ballet-phantasmagoria in two acts.[74]

2010: Synetic Theater presents the re-staging of The Master and Margarita directed by Paata Tsikirishvili and choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili. The show featured a cast of 16, including Paata Tsikirishvili as Master and Irina Tsikurishvili as Margarita and ran from 11 November to 12 December 2010 at the Lansburgh Theatre.


Some hundred composers, bands, singers and songwriters were inspired by The Master and Margarita in their work. All together, they produced some 250 songs or musical pieces about it.

Rock 'n roll[edit]

Some 25 rock bands and artists, among which The Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, Franz Ferdinand and Pearl Jam have been inspired by the novel to write a song about it. A full list is available on the Master & Margarita website.[75]

Pop music[edit]

Some 15 popular bands and artists, among which Igor Nikolayev, Valery Leontiev, Zsuzsa Koncz, Larisa Dolina and Linda have been inspired by the novel to write a song about it. Valery Leontiev's song Margarita was used to make the first Russian video clip ever in 1989. A full list of artists and songs is available on the Master & Margarita website.[76]

Russian bards[edit]

Many Russian bards, among which Alexander Rosenbaum, have been inspired by the novel to write songs about it. All together, they made some 200 songs on themes and characters from The Master and Margarita. A full list of artists and songs is available on the Master & Margarita website.[77]

Classical music[edit]

A dozen classical composers, among which Dmitri Smirnov and Andrey Petrov have been inspired by the novel to write symphonies and musical phantasies about it. A full list their works is available on the Master & Margarita website.[78]

2011: Australian composer and domra (Russian mandolin) player Stephen Lalor presented his "Master & Margarita Suite" of instrumental pieces in concert at the Bulgakov Museum Moscow in July 2011, performed on Russian instruments domra, cimbalom, bass balalaika and bayan.[79]

Opera, musical[edit]

Some 15 composers, among which York Höller, Alexander Gradsky and Sergei Slonimsky made operas and musicals on the theme of The Master and Margarita. A full list of the composers is available on the Master & Margarita website.[80]


Three composers, Ennio Morricone, Alfred Schnittke and Igor Kornelyuk, have made soundtracks for films about The Master and Margarita.[85]

Other musical genres[edit]

Five alternative composers and performers, among which Simon Nabatov, have been inspired by the novel to present various adaptations. A full list of artists and songs is available on the Master & Margarita website.[86]

In 2009, Portuguese new media artists Video Jack premiered an audiovisual art performance inspired by the novel at Kiasma, Helsinki, as part of the PixelAche Festival. Since then, it has been shown in festivals in different countries, having won an honorable mention award at Future Places Festival, Porto. The project was released as a net art version later that year.[87]


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  15. ^ Sarvas, Mark (2006-10-25). "The Elegant Variation: A Literary Weblog". Retrieved 2006-10-25. 
  16. ^ Moss, Kevin. "Published English Translations". Archived from the original on 24 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-25. 
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  1. ^ MASSOLIT|MASSOLIT is a Soviet-style abbreviation for "Moscow Association of Writers" (Московская ассоциация литераторов), but possibly interpretable as "Literature for the Masses"; one translation of the book mentions that it could be a play on words in Russian, which could be translated into English as something like "LOTSALIT")


Secondary Sources[edit]

External links[edit]