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vendangeuse

Can anyone recommend a good book on Shostakovich?

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I rarely read books on composers, but he seems like a fascinating subject. I'm wondering if there is anything similar to Philip Glass's autobiography, Words Without Music, which included both biographical details and some passages on music theory. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed looking at the options on Amazon, so any suggestions would be deeply appreciated.

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Don't have definitive recommendations on the non-fiction front (so much historiographical controversy!), but definitely recommend Julian Barnes' novel on Shostakovitch, The Noise of Time. A compact, melancholy reflection on the relationship between art and politics, and on the moral, political, and personal compromises required of artists working under totalitarian regimes.

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I have no recommendations either, but I'd suggest doing a search through some book reviews (LRB, NYRB, etc.)  Even if you're not a subscriber and can't get past their walls, you should be able to see the titles of books on the subject they thought worth reviewing and get an idea of what they're about. I know "Testimony: the Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich" by Solomon Volkov caused some controversy back when.

If you live near a good library, it may have some of those books on its shelves, or maintain physical or digital copies of book reviews and magazines that contain articles with Shostakovich as a subject.

 

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On 8/23/2018 at 12:25 AM, sappho said:

Don't have definitive recommendations on the non-fiction front (so much historiographical controversy!), but definitely recommend Julian Barnes' novel on Shostakovitch, The Noise of Time. A compact, melancholy reflection on the relationship between art and politics, and on the moral, political, and personal compromises required of artists working under totalitarian regimes.

Sappho, I got my hands on The Noise of Time last week and just finished it—I tore through it. It was a fantastic book, one I expect I'll return to again in the future. Many thanks for the recommendation.

On 8/28/2018 at 5:23 PM, dirac said:

I know "Testimony: the Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich" by Solomon Volkov caused some controversy back when.

If you live near a good library, it may have some of those books on its shelves, or maintain physical or digital copies of book reviews and magazines that contain articles with Shostakovich as a subject.

The Volkov book is one of the ones Barnes references in his author's note. I think I will take your suggestion, and try to find available copies at the library or the bookstore, of both this book and Elizabeth Wilson's biography (which seems much less contentious) before I make my next selection.

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On 9/12/2018 at 2:07 PM, vendangeuse said:

Sappho, I got my hands on The Noise of Time last week and just finished it—I tore through it. It was a fantastic book, one I expect I'll return to again in the future. Many thanks for the recommendation.

Ahhhh so delighted to hear this!! Now I kind of want to re-read it myself. Let me know if you end up finding something particularly illuminating on the non-fiction front?

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