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The New Shostakovich Paperback – 6 Jul 2006
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"One of the best biographies of Dmitri Shostakovich I have read" (Maxim Shostakovich)
"Compelling ... a portrait of a creative artist tormented and harried by the random assaults of Stalinism" (Financial Times)
"Persuasively argued and forceful ... A valid, politically driven reconsideration of the composer's works" (New York Times Review of Books)
"With passionate integrity, MacDonald fastidiously builds a case to rival the most compellingly labyrinthine detective investigation. Now the great music of Shostakovich will be heard anew" (Q)
"Much-needed - a very fascinating insight" (Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys))
Party stalwart or secret dissenter? A major reassessment of the life, works, and politics of the Soviet Union's greatest composer by one of our best music critics.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
To this end, it is actually two different books; MacDonald did not survive to make the 2006 revisions. While much of the content is the same, the original edition does not believe "Testimony" to be authentic and takes issue with its characterization of the composer and his work. The later account turns 180 degrees and credits "Testimony" as a potent and accurate account of the composer's life, beliefs and feelings during his days as the Soviet Union's greatest composer. For this reason, it is important that purchasers buy the later edition, which my review covers.
The book is divided into the sections of the composer's life, from his earliest family life and influences to his years in academy, the great Stalin purge of the 1930s, his isolation in the post-Stalin years and his assertive period at the end of his life.Read more ›
Ian MacDonald's "The New Shostakovich" was first published in 1990 and received criticism from scholars for its heavily revisionist stance, nowhere near sufficiently nuanced to give a balanced view of Shostakovich's life and music. After MacDonald's death the book reappeared in 2006 in this new edition, comprehensively revised by the English pianist Raymond Clarke, who has explained in an eight-page introduction his approach in undertaking the many changes that were necessary.
For most readers familiar with the original edition, the most radical change will appear to be the removal of MacDonald's "musical codes"; as Clarke points out in his introduction, MacDonald's assignment of supposedly hidden symbolism to the presence of tiny motifs that are fundamental building blocks of music - without which no composer would be able to compose anything anyway - is no more logical than a literary critic assigning hidden symbolism to the presence of small words such as 'to', 'it' or 'the' in a text. Another noticeable change is that whereas in the first edition MacDonald treated the authenticity of Solomon Volkov's 'Testimony' (a book which claims to be the memoirs of the composer) with a pinch of salt, the new edition proceeds from a viewpoint of fully accepting Volkov's book; Clarke mentions in his introduction that this reflects MacDonald's change of view in his last years, though one has the distinct impression that Clarke himself is not convinced by Testimony but is too tactful to state so unequivocally.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book arrived promptly and in new condition. A very thoughtful and readable account about Shostakovich's personal and creative life in the context of Stalin's repression. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Chris Roberts
Tough going in places but taught me as much about 20th century Russian history as about Shostakovich's works, which I now listen to in a totally new and more informed way.Published on 25 Jun. 2010 by Azcomusic
This book was published in 1990 and was lightly revised after the author's death by someone else. MacDonald was not a musician or music scholar. He was not a historian. Read morePublished on 12 Feb. 2010 by animalimitata