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Shostakovich: Breaking Down Silence Saint Paul Sunday Feature
April 2000


Dmitri Shostakovich (Novosty) in The New Shostakovich,
Ian McDonald (Northeastern University Press, 1990).

Music must break down silence. - Dmitri Shostakovich


  1. The "Holy Fool" & Shostakovich's Early Career
  2. "Chaos Instead of Music"
  3. Rehabilitation and Denunciation


  1. The Shostakovich String Quartets
  2. The Emerson String Quartet


Music to Browse By: Listen to the Emerson String Quartet on Saint Paul Sunday
(RealAudio 3.0; how to listen)

String Quartet No. 2 in A, Op. 68-I. Overture
String Quartet No. 4 in D, Op. 83-IV. Allegretto
String Quartet No. 13 in Bb minor, Op. 138

Read Paul Epstein's Notes
on Quartets 2, 4, 13

Recordings are available from
Public Radio MusicSource

IN LOOKING AT AN ARTIST'S LIFE, it can be difficult to separate those characteristics and tendencies that are essentially unique to the person - his or her innate temperamental elements - from those determined by nationality and the social and political context in which he or she lived. It's particularly interesting to take this sort of lens to the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, one of our greatest 20th-century composers, whose life was so intimately affected by the profound cultural upheavals in Russia during his lifetime. There are some interesting scholarly arguments simmering these days about Shostakovich and his relationship to the Soviet regime: Was he a "dissident hero" or a willing Communist? Yet it is sometimes forgotten that the characteristics that have been interpreted as indications of dissidence - the sadness and despair - also characterize a long tradition in Russian art, as well as the composer's own innate emotional world.


NEXT - The Holy Fool