Shostakovich : A Life

4.03 (109 ratings by Goodreads)
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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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Product details

  • Hardback | 488 pages
  • 158 x 240 x 36mm | 861.84g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 16 halftones, 2 maps
  • 0195134389
  • 9780195134384

About Laurel E. Fay

Laurel E. Fay has served as assistant professor of music at The Ohio State University and visiting assistant professor in Slavic studies at Wellesley College. A widely published writer on Russian and Soviet music, she has been traveling to and studying in Russia since 1971. She lives in Staten Island, New York.
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Review quote

Laurel E. Fay's painstakingly researched Shostakovich: A Life has given us the long-awaited authoritative biography, taking full advantage of the post-Soviet Opening-up of archives to provide the best assemblage of factual information on Shostakovich's life and work in any language."--David Fanning, Music and Letters
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Rating details

109 ratings
4.03 out of 5 stars
5 35% (38)
4 39% (42)
3 23% (25)
2 3% (3)
1 1% (1)
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