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Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, Second Edition Paperback – September 3, 2006
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Praise for the previous edition: "[Wilson] has gathered numerous recollections of Shostakovich and organized them into an enormous biography that follows every step of his life. . . . Together, these diverse sources provide a mosaic portrait of a shy, fidgety, punctilious musician."--New Yorker
"[T]he most important book ever published about the greatest Russian composer of the twentieth century. . . . For the first time, Shostakovich's anguished personality comes into focus, and his emotionally devastating encounters with the Soviet government are put into trustworthy perspective."--The New York Daily News
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Top Customer Reviews
Performance of his Fourth Symphony was canceled. Friends avoided him. Musicians supporting him were persecuted. And as Shostakovich, one of the 20th century's greatest composers, would acknowledge much later, had it not been for the totalitarian regime under which he lived, "I would have written more pure music."
Yet this same man who suffered under Soviet communism also joined the Communist Party in 1960, even spoke or signed statements against Soviet dissidents. What are we to make of him?
In Elizabeth Wilson's artfully woven collection of reminiscences, Shostakovich (1906-75) emerges three-dimensional, fascinating, yet still enigmatic - neither Soviet cheerleader nor covert subversive, as some would have him. First published in 1994, the book is freshly augmented with new material for his centenary. The voices of family, friends, composers, conductors and other musicians make riveting reading; they document Shostakovich's struggle to balance the demands of musical genius with those of a repressive state.
Wilson's credentials are first-rate: She studied cello with the great Mstislav Rostropovich, a close friend of Shostakovich's, and attended several premieres of the composer's late work. She documents in chilling detail the fears under which Shostakovich worked, the subterfuges he used to make his music pass in a hostile climate while still mining his soul's depths.
For 1936 wasn't his last run-in with the state.Read more ›
Wilson lucidly supports her interviews and articles from colleagues, friends, and family of the composer with a curious detachment that serves to clarify rather than alienate the subject matter. The articles and interviews themselves are priceless artifacts, and presented here in an intelligent fashion.
Shostakovich's life is portrayed here with startling intimacy. The reader will find him or herself able to visualize the genius composer and his quirks, and those who listen to the relevant works of music will find their messages so much more meaningful.
His parents wanted to name him Jaroslav, but the priest who baptized him insisted on Dmitri. So begins the story of the boy prodigy, who matured into one of the most significant composers of the twentieth century. Testimonies by more than 60 contributors authenticate some of Shostakovich's personal attributes, details of his life, and the way he went about composing music under often taxing circumstances and the shadow of a political system that sought to regulate the arts -- indeed all aspects of life -- to conform to "socialist reality."
Almost from the start, the young Dmitri (Mitya to his friends) did not have an easy life; but he was highly disciplined and determined to succeed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mainly this book uses the memories written by people who Shostakovich knew,like Mravinsky the great conductor, Khachaturian, Rostropovich,friends et al,which does give you an... Read morePublished on February 20, 2012 by Tony Tripp (Ultrarunner).
The author was born in London, England but as a music student under Rostropovich she attended many Shostakovich premieres in Russia in the 1960's and 1970's. Read morePublished on September 20, 2011 by Meow Tomcat