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Dmitri Shostakovich – reading notes I

April 22, 2009

from my reading of Shostakovich by Norman Kay

Early Career

– Lenin is in power

– influences: Schumann, Prokofiev, Stravinsky

– new Soviet state was liberal, open to even Western composers, jazz

– early style was conservative

– “I was pursuing abstract experimentation – the pieces were an erroneous striving after originality” – Shostakovich on his Ten Aphorisms for piano

– comedic opera The Nose, about Major Kovalev’s nose that is lost and then found

The Nose confuses the timeline by having the first scene occur again as the 9th scene and then moving beyond that

– Soviet commentators believed he wanted to pull one past the audience and became known as “the enfant terrible of Russian music” (Kay, Norman 1971)

– Stalin comes to power

– Five Year Plan – expansion of Russian industry

– Western music is banned

– Association of Proletarian Musicians – issued “official edicts” judging all Russian music

– APM made him feel self-concious

– was conflicted in his composing: 1. continued as his early works, 2. neo classical

– government attacked his Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Muddle Instead of Music)

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