Author : Solomon Volkov
Description:Music illuminates a person and provides him with his last hope; even Stalin, a butcher, knew that. So said the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose first compositions in the 1920s identified him as an avant-garde wunderkind. But that same singularity became a liability a decade later under the totalitarian rule of Stalin, with his unpredictable grounds for the persecution of artists. Solomon Volkovwho cowrote Shostakovichs controversial 1979 memoir, Testimonydescribes how this lethal uncertainty affected the composers life and work. Volkov, an authority on Soviet Russian culture, shows us the holy fool in Shostakovich: the truth speaker who dared to challenge the supreme powers. We see how Shostakovich struggled to remain faithful to himself in his music and how Stalin fueled that struggle: one minute banning his work, the next encouraging it. We see how some of Shostakovichs contemporariesMandelstam, Bulgakov, and Pasternak among themfell victim to Stalins manipulations and how Shostakovich barely avoided the same fate. And we see the psychological price he paid for what some perceived as self-serving aloofness and others saw as rightfully defended individuality.This is a revelatory account of the relationship between one of the twentieth centurys greatest composers and one of its most infamous tyrants.