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Shostakovich: A Life Remembered [Paperback]

Elizabeth Wilson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 July 2006

Shostakovich: A Life Remembered is a unique study of the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich, based on reminiscences from his contemporaries: family members, friends, fellow musicians and other prominent figures of the time. Elizabeth Wilson covers the composer's life from his early successes to his struggles under the Stalinist regime, and his international recognition as one of the leading composers of the 20th century. She builds up a detailed picture of Shostakovich's creative processes, how he was perceived by contemporaries and of the increased contrast between his private life and public image as his fame increased.

This revised edition, produced to coincide with the centenary of Shostakovich's birth, draws on many new writings on the composer. This provides both a more detailed and focused image of Shostakovich's life, and a wider view of his cultural background. A particular aspect of Shostakovich which is revealed in this new edition is his sardonic and witty sense of humour, displayed in many of his letters to close friends.

Shostakovich: A Life Remembered provides fascinating insight into the complex personality and the musical life of this great composer, and examines his position as one of the major figures of cultural life in 20th century Russia.

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Shostakovich: A Life Remembered + The New Shostakovich + Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich as related to and edited by  Solomon Volkov
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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Rev Ed edition (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571220509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571220502
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 14.8 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"'The one essential source to which all future biographers will have to turn.' Calum MacDonald, Tempo"

About the Author

Elizabeth Wilson was born in London, attended schools in England, China and the USA and studied cello at the Moscow Conservatoire with Mstislav Rostropovich between 1964 and 1971. She has combined careers as performer and teacher, playing with distinguished ensembles in Britain and Europe as well as devising and presenting radio and concert series on a range of Russian themes. In parallel with these activities, she also writes about music and musicians, including in 1998 a biography of Jacqueline du Pré.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I bought this substantial book in 2000 + it remains a thoroughly absorbing refence work for anyone interested in the turbulent troubled life and times of soviet era composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) and how it affected + influenced his great works.

The massive shadow cast by Stalin during the mid-20th century in Russia seems almost unimaginable to western readers at the start of the 21st Century... but anyone with an interest in Shostakovich's hauntng + emotionally complex symphonies or string quartets will find much in Elizabeth Wilson's book to widen their appreciation of the great man's music. the book contains many rare photographs + insights into DSCH's nervous, polite but complex personality + coded music. the detailed index reads like a who's who of the Russian greats from that era with an extremely useful cross-referenced list of DSCH's works with comments + insights to each.

highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Recuperating after a major surgery, I stayed last week in a beach cottage in Florida. I was afraid it'd be boring and it probably would if not for this book. The form of the book - an oral biography (through detailed interviews by the author of collegues, relatives and others who knew Shostakovich) makes for a very alive and fresh reading. Quite a superficial music lover, I had nevertheless enjoyed reading all the details, because they are immersed in the feel, motions and atmospherics of the time. One tiny blemish is that the author, fluent in Russian, translates literally all the idiomatic colloquialisms that are pretty common in the Russian speach. Most of the time it's just funny, like "feverishly loving you D.Shostakovich". Only in one instance it is downright wrong. It is when she translates a Russian word seni which means a "foyer" as "hay" i.e. seno. But again, it is so tiny and the non-Russian reader wouldn't notice anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Shostakovich. A life remembered" is a very thorough account of the composer's life, relationship with relatives and friends, with the state authorities and cultural and ethical atmosphere of the time.

Chilling pictures of horrors and constant fear during the Stalinist and Soviet oppression reveal impossible conditions that Shostakovich had to survive creating his masterpieces. I loved the description of his symphonies that encouraged me to listen to all of them and helped to understand so much more about all music of the genius. Lovely stories with examples of the composer's bravery, human weaknesses, brilliant gift of sarcasm make you cry, laugh and think, think...

Wonderful book!
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