Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator

Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator

Solomon Volkov


“Music illuminates somebody and offers him together with his final desire; even Stalin, a butcher, knew that.” So stated the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose first compositions within the Nineteen Twenties pointed out him as an avant-garde wunderkind. yet that very same singularity turned a legal responsibility a decade later less than the totalitarian rule of Stalin, together with his unpredictable grounds for the persecution of artists. Solomon Volkov—who cowrote Shostakovich’s debatable 1979 memoir, Testimony—describes how this deadly uncertainty affected the composer’s existence and paintings.

Volkov, an expert on Soviet Russian tradition, exhibits us the “holy idiot” in Shostakovich: the reality speaker who dared to problem the splendid powers. We see how Shostakovich struggled to stay trustworthy to himself in his tune and the way Stalin fueled that fight: one minute banning his paintings, the subsequent encouraging it. We see how a few of Shostakovich’s contemporaries—Mandelstam, Bulgakov, and Pasternak between them—fell sufferer to Stalin’s manipulations and the way Shostakovich slightly shunned a similar destiny. And we see the mental rate he paid for what a few perceived as self-serving aloofness and others observed as rightfully defended individuality.

This is a revelatory account of the connection among one of many 20th century’s maximum composers and certainly one of its such a lot notorious tyrants.

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