Shostakovich: A Life

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Oxford University Press, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 458 pages
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For this authoritative post-cold-war biography of Shostakovich's illustrious but turbulent career under Soviet rule, Laurel E. Fay has gone back to primary documents: Shostakovich's many letters, concert programs and reviews, newspaper articles, and diaries of his contemporaries. An indefatigable worker, he wrote his arresting music despite deprivations during the Nazi invasion and constant surveillance under Stalin's regime.
Shostakovich's life is a fascinating example of the paradoxes of living as an artist under totalitarian rule. In August 1942, his Seventh Symphony, written as a protest against fascism, was performed in Nazi-besieged Leningrad by the city's surviving musicians, and was triumphantly broadcast to the German troops, who had been bombarded beforehand to silence them. Alone among his artistic peers, he survived successive Stalinist cultural purges and won the Stalin Prize five times, yet in 1948 he was dismissed from his conservatory teaching positions, and many of his works were banned from performance. He prudently censored himself, in one case putting aside a work based on Jewish folk poems. Under later regimes he balanced a career as a model Soviet, holding government positions and acting as an international ambassador with his unflagging artistic ambitions.
In the years since his death in 1975, many have embraced a view of Shostakovich as a lifelong dissident who encoded anti-Communist messages in his music. This lucid and fascinating biography demonstrates that the reality was much more complex. Laurel Fay's book includes a detailed list of works, a glossary of names, and an extensive bibliography, making it an indispensable resource for future studies of Shostakovich.
 

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Shostakovich: a life

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The Cold War has ended, but writers on Shostakovich now face its effects on information, as Fay's own published criticism of some Shostakovich-related work has shown. This meticulously documented ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 Childhood 19061919
7
2 Conservatory 19191926
17
3 Spreading Wings 19261928
33
4 Pioneer 19291932
49
5 TragedySatire 19321936
67
6 Crisis 19361937
87
7 Reprieve 19381941
107
11 The Thaw 19531958
185
12 Consolidation 19581961
207
13 Renewal 19611966
225
14 Jubilees 19661969
247
15 Immortality 19701975
265
Notes
289
List of Works
347
Glossary of Names
363

8 The War Years 19411944
123
9 Victory 19451948
145
10 Public and Private 19481953
167
Select Bibliography
387
Index
423
Copyright

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About the author (2000)


Laurel E. Fay is a widely published writer on Russian and Soviet music, who has been traveling to and studying in Russia since 1971. She lives in Staten Island, New York.

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