Shostakovich
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Shostakovich : A Life

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Description

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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 488 pages
  • 154.9 x 233.7 x 35.6mm | 680.4g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 15 halftones, frontispiece, 2 maps, & 1 cartoon
  • 0195182510
  • 9780195182514
  • 410,926

Review quote

"Fay's Shostokovich is not only the best biography in English or in any other West European language, it offers readers a factual accuracy and balanced perspective unmatched in post-Soviet era publications by Shostakovich specialists in the composer's homeland. Undaunted by the lurid debates surrounding Shostakovich's purported lifelong dissidence and the covert meaning of his music, Fay has produced exactly what we need at this stage in Shostokovich scholarship; a reliable and basic life and works-clear-eyed, straightforward, copiously researched, sympathetic, objective, and uncluttered by Cold-War and post-Cold-War myths."-Malcolm Hamrick Brown, Professor Emeritus of Music, Indiana University, and Founding Editor, Russian Music Studies "The combined effects of scholarly incompetence, deliberate obfuscation, and the imposition of political agendas have made it nearly impossible to get a clear picture of the life of Shostokovich, one of the most fascinating figures in the cultural life of the twentieth century. Laurel Fay, the most patient of scholars, has done an amazing job of getting the material sorted out so as to be able to tell the compelling story of this troubled life. She is calm, bound by no political parti pris, and when even she has been defeated in her research she is not afraid to say 'I don't know'. Long awaited, this is an immensely important book and hugely welcome."-Michael Steinberg, author of The Symphony: A Listener's Guide and The Concerto: A Listener's Guide (OUP). "The rest of us can nevertheless be grateful for [Fay's] humble and herculean efforts, thanks to which Shostakovich can no longer be discussed in terms of black or white; her work has begun to make it possible to focus on the lasting inner life of the music and to think of the music's creator in fuller human terms."-The Boston Sunday Globeshow more

About Laurel E. Fay

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

Review Text

"The rest of us can nevertheless be grateful for [Fay's] humble and herculean efforts, thanks to which Shostakovich can no longer be discussed in terms of black or white; her work has begun to make it possible to focus on the lasting inner life of the music and to think of the music's creator in fuller human terms."-The Boston Sunday Globeshow more

Rating details

94 ratings
4.03 out of 5 stars
5 33% (31)
4 40% (38)
3 23% (22)
2 3% (3)
1 0% (0)
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