Fine Arts

The Question of Artistic Integrity and Freedom: Shostakovich against Totalitarianism


Two irreconcilable images of composer Dmitrii Shostakovich have emerged--one of an official state bard, and the other of a genius following the rules of the game on the surface, but expressing his true feelings through his majestic, somber, grotesque music. Was Shostakovich a willing supporter of the Soviet regime whose music buttressed socialist realism, or was he a survivor who managed to create profound music in the stifling totalitarian state?


Conference Readings

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District. Directed by James Conlon. Arthaus Musik, 2008. DVD.

“Keeping Score: Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.” (May 1, 2018).

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 - Leningrad. Directed by Dmitri Shostakovich (Composer), Valery Gergiev (Conductor), Mariinsky Orchestra (Orchestra). Mariinsky, 2018. CD.

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13- Babi Yar. Directed by Marius Rintzler (Artist), Dmitri Shostakovich (Composer), Bernard Haitink (Conductor), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Orchestra), Royal Concertgebouw Men’s Chorus (Performer). Decca, 2000. CD.

Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos.4, 5 & 6. Directed by Mariinsky Orchestra (Artist, Orchestra), Valery Gergiev (Artist, Conductor), Dmitri Shostakovich (Composer) . Mariinsky, 2018. CD.

Anonymous (Joseph Stalin). “Muddle instead of Music.” Pravda (January 28, 1936): 1-2.

Barnes, Julian. The Noise of Time. New York: Vintage International, 2017.

Volkov, Solomon. Shostakovich and Stalin. New York: Random House, Inc., 2004.

Wilson, Elizabeth. Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995.