[Marxism] Interesting article on Shostakovich
hari.kumar at sympatico.ca
hari.kumar at sympatico.ca
Sat Jul 22 18:55:56 MDT 2006
"Jacob Levich" writes:
"Whenever Shostakovich is performed, variations on this theme appear in the local press. . . .
Most of the stuff about Shostakovich as a sort of secret musical Solzhenitsyn is rooted in a 1975 "as told to" memoir, _Testimony_, published
in the US by a Soviet defector named Solomon Volkov. ... The only problem is, Volkov's book is a crude forgery, as was demonstrated
conclusively soon after its publication by musicologist Laurel Fay ...
A good place to go for background on this is _A Shostakovich Casebook_, edited by Malcom Brown."
Forgive my late entry on this.
However, I have been recently reading:
"A Soviet Credo: Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony" by Pauline Fairclough; Ashgate Publishing Co 2006; London. ISBN: 0 7546 5018 2.
This is a very good detailed analysis of Shostakovich, with regard to one specific allegation against "Stalinism".
Namely - Shostakovich's hasty withdrawal of his 4th Symphony from a public hearing.
The conventional wisdom is that this was done under pressure from J.V.Stalin's strictures.
Fairclough shows a much more complex picture - where Shostakovich's struggle-fascination with Mahlerian forms. The conventional pictures of Shostakovich are not easily reconciled with her detailed analysis of the 4th.
"Although the scale and complexity of the 4th might have provoked accusations of formalism, in other repsects it was fulfilling current demands for a new type of Soviet symphonism..... Although there was no concensus at the conference (1935 symphonism conference-Ed) over the form the new symphonism should take (few composers would have welcomed such prescription), composers were called to the task of 'reflecting reality' and creating a new symphonic language"; p.32:
"What emerges is entirely compatible (not-Ed) only with Shostakovich's 4th symphony..." P.33
"As the 1935 discussion show, the 4th Symphony fulfilled many of the qualities judged desirable in a Soviet Symphony. It musical language was clear and expressive; it was not formulaic, dryly modernistic or academic; it did not use popular idioms trivially but in a highly suggestive and expressive way; it was tightly constructed, with the qualities of 'dialectical' process.. that Asafiev and others regarded as the essence of true symphonism, and it suggested 'content' without relying on a programme or sub-title." p. 233.
I am not musically trained enough to have more than a smattering of music notation.
So, I cannot myself follow nor critique adequately - Fairclough's detailed passage through quotation of the symphony. Some here undoubtedly can follow that textual quotation that Fairclough gives.
HOwever - like the infamous philistine (or the sensible person) who proclaimed of an expensive 'artistic' (& expensive) pile of bricks at the Tate Gallery: "But I knows what I likes"...
The picture is certainly far more complex than one that is a convenient fit for those of Volkov's cloth.
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