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Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman, 1941-1975 Hardcover – October 11, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Readers of this eccentric publication should be warned in advance: the main hero of Story of a Friendship is not Shostakovich the complex figure as we have come to know him . . . , but someone altogether more elusive."―Zinovy Zinik, Times Literary Supplement, 11/23/01

"By turning Shostakovich into a saint, a hero, or a martyr to gratify our hatred of the evil that surrounded him, we grant him no posthumous victory. All we do is reduce him to the level of our imperfect comprehension and our biases. Better to let the contradictions stand. They are what have made Shostakovich so consequential."―Richard Taruskin, The New Republic, December 24, 2001

"The debate over the politics of Shostakovich continues. Story of a Friendship injects a fresh perspective from the composer's private correspondence."―Schirmer News, December '01/January '02

"No doubt for good reason, Shostakovich maintained close relationships with very few people. One of these was theater historian and dramaturge Isaak Glikman. . . The letters are as revelatory as anything touching this reclusive artist can be. . . This volume will serve academic and general readers at all levels."―Choice, April 2002, Vol. 29, No. 8

"For the first time, a significant collection of Shostakovich's letters is available in English, providing a clear window into the personality and the day-to-day life of the composer who penned symphonies, concertos and chamber music under repressive conditions. . . Story of a Friendship almost certainly is the closest we will ever come to having 'Shostakovich's book.'"―David Hendricks, San Antonio Express News, March 17, 2002

"This compilation of Shostakovich's personal letters gives, in its own idiosyncratic way, a hearing to the composer's own voice. This voice, albeit sincere and warm, is neither overtly frank nor straightforward, and―just as his music―is open to multiple interpretations. . . It is an important contribution to Shostakovich studies, particularly helpful to those who cannot read the original, and for those potential readers it is highly recommended."―Margarita Mazo, Ohio State University, The Russian Review, October 2003.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (October 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801439795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801439797
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Shostakovich's letters to Glikman show the personal side of the composer -- a man of humor, wit, intelligence, and an overall powerful mind. While keeping in mind his highly negative attitudes towards the Soviet government, the reader sees clearly Shostakovich's use of codified language, forms of reverse psychology, irony, parody, all of which he uses to keep the offical government censors off his (and Glikman's) back, and yet to deliver his true message, idea, opinion in a singularly and brilliantly effective way.
My only reservation about the book is the one-sidedness of it. Glikman's letters, or simply more extensive commentary (although it is remarkably thorough, and an outstanding job for an old man 30 years later!). Shostakovich destroyed all the letters he received, so remedying this problem, alas, is virtually impossible.
Highly, highly recommended despite this.
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Format: Hardcover
Limited as it is in scope and ambition, the book brings out the eminently humman side of Shostakovich through correspondence dealing essentially with matter-of-fact everyday matters. Glikman seems to have worshipped Shostakovich, who evidently valued his friendship highly.

A pleasing volume with interesting photos and ample notes to fill in the background, it will be appreciated in particular by aficionados.
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Format: Hardcover
Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitri Shostakovich to Isaak Glickman is a remarkable collection of Shostakovich's letters. Shostakovich was a close friend of Glickman beginning in the early 1930's and these letters constitute a kind of autobiography. The letters that Glickman wrote in response were not preserved it being Shostakovich's philosophy that letters were momentary and not to be saved. Fortunately for us, Isaak Glickman did not follow Shostakovich's example.

The letters up to late 1941 have been lost and Isaak Glickman wrote a synopsis of events up to the time of the first letter. The book is divided into time periods: the war years (1941 - 45), the Zhandov Decree (1946 - 53, the Thaw (1954 - 59), the public and private (1960 - 66), the composer's failing health (1967 - 69) and his final yeas (1970 - 75). The final letter is dated to August 23, 1974 and the final year of Dmitri Shostakovich's life is told through Isaak Glickman's diary entries.

The book is loaded with footnotes. I kept a marker at the current footnote pages so I could turn to them easily. I did flip back and forth often. The footnotes are usually very informative, sometimes adding a lot of information to the letter. The letter's themselves are more revealing about Shostakovich's personality rather than his feelings about his music, but there are some fascinating letters that talk about the Symphony No. 13 and 14. I have read several books about Shostakovich and this one added a new dimension, particularly about his illnesses that began in the 1960's. Many of his letters were written from hospitals or convalescent homes where he composed some of his most powerful music, such as the String Quartets 11 and 13, the Violin Sonata and the Symphony No 14.
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