By Ian MacDonald
Who was once Dmitri Shostakovich? The USSR's professional figurehead composer and son of the revolution that introduced the Soviet nation into being, or a mystery dissident whose contempt for the totalitarian regime was once scathing? possibly either? because the posthumous e-book in 1979 of alleged memoirs via Shostakovich, the debate in regards to the composer and his tune has escalated into the main rancorous debate the area of classical track has ever identified. Ian MacDonald's the recent Shostakovich provides the case for the dissident view, arguing passionately that the that means of the composer's song can't be absolutely liked with no wisdom of the negative instances he and his fellow artists lived via below Soviet Communism. A commonly learn and significantly acclaimed publication within the Nineteen Nineties, this new version has been comprehensively revised, commonly corrected, and up-to-date with a lot new fabric. Whichever aspect of the talk readers help, the recent Shostakovich provides them with a perspective which can't be overlooked.
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Victor Seroff, who co-authored the first biography-0f the composer with Shostakovich's maternal aunt Nadia, states that the family's bourgeois origin was a handicap to them, and notes that Sofia Shostakovich's indiscretion in wearing furs at the trial ofVyacheslav Yanovitsky in 1 907 was on her record under the Bolshevik dispensation.
As a deliberate gesture in the defence of memory, Testimony is polemical and nee d s to be approached with caution, no matter what the true nature of its . authorship. This is not to say that it is unreliable in general or even in the tone of its detail - neither are any longer in doubt - but rather to recognise that Shostakovich (or Volkov, as the case may be) had considerable latitude for subtly altering the slant of awkward truths without actually falsifying the facts. Even if the authorship controversy did not attach to it, Testimony, pitching the personal memory of an embattled individual against the official memory of an all-powerful state, would still be contentious to the last full-stop.
There was plenty more in the same vein. Muscular 'Bolshevik' certainties like these had a masochistic appeal for many Western intellectuals, conscious as they were of the softness of their own liberal values in an age of totalitarian vigour. Shostakovich's statements had just the air of scandal Rose Lee's readers were looking for and she avidly transcribed them, underscoring the desired frisson by remarking 'something alarming in the assurance of this young man, disposing of the past with no more apparent effort than a twitch of the fingers and a curl of his short upper lip'.