A Soviet Credo: Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony by Pauline Fairclough

By Pauline Fairclough

Composed in 1935-36 and meant to be his creative 'credo', Shostakovich's "Fourth Symphony" was once now not played publicly till 1961. right here, Dr Pauline Fairclough tackles head-on some of the most major and least understood of Shostakovich's significant works. She argues that the "Fourth Symphony" was once appreciably various from its Soviet contemporaries by way of its constitution, dramaturgy, tone or even language, and for this reason challenged the norms of Soviet symphonism at an important level of its improvement. With the backing of sought after musicologists akin to Ivan Sollertinsky, the composer may well realistically have anticipated the superior to have taken position, and will also have meant the symphony to be a version for a brand new form of 'democratic' Soviet symphonism. Fairclough meticulously examines the ranking to notify a dialogue of tonal and thematic methods, allusion, paraphrase and connection with musical varieties, or intonations. Such research is determined deeply within the context of Soviet musical tradition through the interval 1932-36, related to Shostakovich's contemporaries Shabalin, Myaskovsky, Kabalevsky and Popov. a brand new approach to research can be complicated right here, the place a number of Soviet and Western analytical equipment are knowledgeable by way of the theoretical paintings of Shostakovich's contemporaries Viktor Shklovsky, Boris Tomashevsky, Mikhail Bakhtin and Ivan Sollertinsky, including Theodor Adorno's overdue research of Mahler. during this approach, the ebook will considerably bring up an realizing of the symphony and its context.

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12 A SOVIET CREDO conformity' , seems paradoxical at first glance: if anything , many artists welcomed the Resolution with open arms precisely because they imagined it would signal the end of RAPM's aggressive demands for conformity. '29 Artistic groups were re-formed into unions, with strictly controlled membership - expulsion effectively meant the end of a career - and with a single journal , in the case of the Composers' Union, Sovetskaya muzi'ka . Schwarz's observation that the advance of socialist realism as the chief guide of artistic creation around this time meant that 'advanced composers turned conventional, and conventional composers became commonplace'30 presupposes a great deal, not least that socialist realism was so well defined and so powerfully enforced that composers had no choice but to toe the line.

Even at the Writers' Congress its validity was questioned by the very people chosen to proclaim it. Radek's passionate critique of National Socialist demands for optimistic art, for example, looks suspiciously 'Aesopian' . e. sympathetic to the proletariat) , he went on to claim boldly that the 'fellow travellers ' castigated in the old days of proletarian militancy should be encouraged rather than reviled. The gist of Radek's argument ran thus: if writers are honest, especially those who are living and writing in fascist regimes , they will reflect the suffering of the people.

See Abram Gozenpud, 'Khudozhnik i ucheniy' [Artist and scholar] , in Mikheyeva, Pamyati, 32. 39 It would not be accurate to say that socialist realism was ever really the only officially approved 'method' . The official explanation was that it should be the 'basis' [osnovoy] for creative work; this could in theory be used to justify almost anything . It is worth noting that in the post-war artistic crackdown of the Zhdanovshchina, the desirability of socialist realism as a creative method for composers is rarely mooted; criticisms tend rather to centre on the old charge of 'formalism' .

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