Contemplating Shostakovich marks an important new stage in the understanding of Shostakovich and his working environment. Each chapter covers aspects of the composer's output in the context of his life and cultural milieu. The contributions uncover 'outside' stimuli behind Shostakovich's works, allowing the reader to perceive the motivations behind his artistic choices; at the same time, the nature of those choices offers insights into the workings of the larger world - cultural, social, political - that he inhabited. Thus his often ostensibly quirky choices are revealed as responses - by turns sentimental, moving, sardonic and angry - to the particular conditions, with all their absurdities and contradictions, that he had to negotiate. Here we see the composer emerging from the role of tortured loner of older narratives into that of the gregarious and engaged member of his society that, for better and worse, characterized the everyday reality of his life. This invaluable collection offers remarkable new insight, in both depth and range, into the nature of Shostakovich's working circumstances and of his response to them. The collection contains the seeds for a wide range of new directions in the study of Shostakovich's works and the larger contexts of their creation and reception.
'… a highly readable excellently edited collection and an important contribution to the burgeoning science of ’Shostakovichology’.' Russian Review 'Contemplating Shostakovich: Life, Music and Film, edited by Alexander Ivashkin and Andrew Kirkman, expertly fills gaps in our knowledge of the composer, his times and his music, bringing Western (U.S. and British) and Russian scholars together in a robust collection … a collection that contains a healthy mix of approaches to research and contains essays that will have value to all interested in the continued study of Shostakovich’s life and his music, and the cultures in which it lives'. DSCH Journal ’… Contemplating Shostakovich illuminates key works through detailed interpretations rooted in a strong command of the extensive secondary literature’. Philip Ross Bullock, Slavonic and East European Review 'Dealing largely with musical style and compositional method, Contemplating Shostakovich is satisfyingly unified, remaining close to the musical text and "questions of personal and political exegesis". The image of the composer that emerges - one who was a product of Soviet culture rather than a victim of it-is familiar, but the volume nevertheless abounds in new details and insights.' Slavic Review
Contents: Preface; Part I Music and Style: Through the looking glass: reflections on the significance of words and symbols in Shostakovich’s music, Elizabeth Wilson; Shostakovich, old believers and new minimalists, Alexander Ivashkin; Five Satires (Pictures of the Past) by Dmitrii Shostakovich (op. 109): the musical unity of a vocal cycle, Gilbert C. Rappaport; Moving towards an understanding of Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata, Ivan Sokolov, translated by Elizabeth Wilson. Part II Film: Madness by design: Hamlet’s state as defined through music, Erik Heine; Stalin (and Lenin) at the movies, John Riley; Hamlet, King Lear and their companions: the other side of film music, Olga Dombrovskaia. Part III Life and Documents: Arrangements for Piano Four Hands in Dmitrii Shostakovich’s creative work and performance, Inna Barsova; Shostakovich and Soviet Eros: forbidden fruit in the realm of communal Communism, Vladimir Orlov; A Soviet opera in America, Terry Klefstad; Shostakovich in the mid-1930s: operatic plans and implementations (regarding the attribution of an unknown autograph), Olga Digonskaia, translated by Stephen Dinkeldein; Select bibliography; Index.