A Shostakovich Companion by Michael Mishra

By Michael Mishra

Adopting a two-books-in-one structure. The Shostakovich Companion combines a full-length, single-author exam of the existence and compositional evolution of the Soviet Union's most famed composer; and a symposium within which a number of analytical thoughts is utilized to chose Shostakovich works and genres. this can be the 1st finished English-language ebook in twenty-five years within which the first emphasis is on musical concerns, and the secondary emphasis is at the biographical and much-debated political issues.

The The Shostakovich Companion is split into 4 elements. half I considers the hermeneutic thoughts which have been utilized to Shostakovich's track, besides a few of the controversies surrounding his lifestyles and his courting to Soviet politics. half II includes the book's crucial life-and-works dialogue, uniting a accomplished exam of Shostakovich's compositional evolution with a whole account of his lifestyles. Coming from quite a few authors, the chapters partially III display a cross-section of analytical innovations that can usefully be dropped at endure upon Shostakovich's tune. those diversity from literary and cinematically-based tips on how to the extra conventional forms of musical research. half IV considers 3 self sustaining yet the most important facets of Shostakovich's existence: his contributions to the Soviet movie undefined, his occupation as a pianist, and his legacy and effect as a teacher.

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But who exactly were these "idiots," and how can we know what they really heard? Given the atmosphere o,f terror in which, ultimately, everyone was a pawn and no one was indispensable, was it always possible to distinguish between stupid people . and people forced by fear to act stupidly? A case in point is Georgy Khubov's well-known March 1 938 review of the Fifth Symphony. A Party-line journalist attempting a serious, non-technical analysis of the Symphony in Sovetskaya muzyka, Khubov walked a tightrope.

He did not wish to humiliate anyone who had asked him for some favour; rather, he tried to save them from such embarrassment. 12 (Natalya Vovsi-Mikhoels, friend) One day when we were out sightseeing, a so-called 'poet' who had had far too much to drink decided to attach himself to us. When he heard he was talking to Shostako­ vich, he immediately started to recite his poems to us. It was incredibly hot, and we should have left. Shostakovich was very uptight, and yet he stayed and listened to the very end, because he could not bring himself to hurt the man's feelings.

Interpreting the Music Since the publication of Testimony, and the concomitant discrediting of the composer's legacy of speeches and articles, nearly every Shostakovich composition has come under the microscope in the search for new meanings. Testimony itself mostly avoided musical discussion, but its handful of pointed remarks, set against the backdrop of the book's "revisionist" context, was enough to fuel the subse­ quent debates. Indeed, those remarks have themselves become almost icons of Shostakovich reception history: the Fifth Symphony's "forced" rejoicing, 85 the "portrait of Stalin'' in the Tenth, 8 6 or the "Leningrad that Stalin destroyed and that Hitler merely finished off" in the Seventh.

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