Dmitri Shostakovich's Second, Third, and Fourth Symphonies: Problems of Context, Analysis, and Interpretation

TitleDmitri Shostakovich's Second, Third, and Fourth Symphonies: Problems of Context, Analysis, and Interpretation
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsDarby, Joseph Eugene
Academic DepartmentMusic Department
DegreePhD
Number of Pages442
UniversityCity University of New York
CityNew York
Abstract

For many years, Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–75) was portrayed as a dedicated communist and loyal supporter of the Soviet regime, but this long-accepted view of the composer has been vigorously challenged since his death. In this dissertation the author places Shostakovich's Second, Third, and Fourth symphonies in close contact with wider cultural, intellectual, and political trends taking place in Soviet Russia during the 1920s and 1930s. The author brings attention to a number of documents by Shostakovich—speeches, essays, and letters—that demonstrate how he both actively dissented from and willingly cooperated with the Soviet music establishment during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Though partially sympathetic in the 1920s, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the Soviet regime and emerged as one of the most outspoken members of the Soviet musical intelligentsia in the 1930s. Forced to abandon open dissent altogether following his public censure by the Communist Party in 1936, Shostakovich sometimes used his music as a platform for his political and artistic defiance. The Fourth Symphony (1935–36), for example, is a work that deliberately repudiated the Party's demand for socialist realist music—a boldly defiant gesture in the face of widespread state-sponsored repression against the Soviet intelligentsia during the mid to late 1930s.[Author]

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