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

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
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“Music illuminates a person and provides him with his last hope; even Stalin, a butcher, knew that.” So said the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose first compositions in the 1920s identified him as an avant-garde wunderkind. But that same singularity became a liability a decade later under the totalitarian rule of Stalin, with his unpredictable grounds for the persecution of artists. Solomon Volkov—who cowrote Shostakovich’s controversial 1979 memoir, Testimony—describes how this lethal uncertainty affected the composer’s life and work.

Volkov, an authority on Soviet Russian culture, shows us the “holy fool” in Shostakovich: the truth speaker who dared to challenge the supreme powers. We see how Shostakovich struggled to remain faithful to himself in his music and how Stalin fueled that struggle: one minute banning his work, the next encouraging it. We see how some of Shostakovich’s contemporaries—Mandelstam, Bulgakov, and Pasternak among them—fell victim to Stalin’s manipulations and how Shostakovich barely avoided the same fate. And we see the psychological price he paid for what some perceived as self-serving aloofness and others saw as rightfully defended individuality.

This is a revelatory account of the relationship between one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers and one of its most infamous tyrants.

From the Hardcover edition.

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SHOSTAKOVICH AND STALIN: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator

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A revealing portrait of the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75), who managed to keep skin and soul intact during the worst years of the Soviet terror.Art rarely flourishes under oppression ... Read full review

Shostakovich and Stalin: the extraordinary relationship between the great composer and the brutal dictator

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Despite being compromised by his political connections, Dmitri Shostakovich "managed to transform [his First Violin Concerto] into the gold of music," says musicologist Volkov, who co-wrote the ... Read full review


Title Page
Mirages and Temptations
Causes and Consequences
Facing the Sphinx
The Tsars Mercy
Triumphs and Tribulations
Look Over Here Look Over There the Enemy
Final Convulsions and Death of the Tsar
Epilogue In the Shadow ofStalin
A Note About the Translator

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About the author (2007)

Solomon Volkov is a musicologist and the author, most recently, of St. Petersburg: A Cultural History.

Antonina W. Bouis is an award-winning translator.

From the Hardcover edition.

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