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Dmitri Shostakovich: Shaking the tree.
by Julia Moreno Perri
Music History 338 • Spring 2010 • Dr. Jane Perkyns
This comparative paper analyzes a set of ten selected resources and materials on the life,
the works, and the societal and political climate in Russia of composer Dmitri
Shostakovich. This paper takes three different approaches of learning about Shostakovich
– the first branch is biographical/autobiographical, the second is social and political and
the third branch is his creative works and the writing process. All these branches create
the shape and form of the musical tree, Dmitri Shostakovich. The trunk is the core of the
times in which he lived and how it shaped and influenced him as a person, as a composer
and as a thinker.
Branch One is one of the older, thicker and stronger branches on the tree. It is central to
understanding what made Dmitri Shostakovich tick. Two books were selected to
represent a more personal look at Shostakovich. The first, “Pages from the Life of Dmitri
Shostakovich” by Dmitri and Ludmilla Sollertinksky and translated by Graham Hobbs
and Charles Midgley is personal story in theory however it seems to be very careful not
to upset the cart. The book contains an author’s note and is comprised of 233 pages with
chapters divided by sections of years, mostly in 3-4 year sections. The authors are the son
and daughter-in-law of Ivan Sollertinsky, who had been Shostakovich’s dearest friend
through out his life. The compilation of archival family photographs both from the
Shostakovich and the Sollertinsky collections are located in the middle section of the
book and are more intimate than other sources. Other sources for the photographs include
the Novosti Press Agency Publishing House and photographers V. Akhlomov and O
Makarov.
The book highlights family, friendships and his creative career with less of an emphasis
on the politics that so predominated Russian and international politics. The writing style
is familiar and easy to read. It contains quotes from a variety of first person sources such
2
as historical and political movers and shakers, former students, relatives, composers and
musicians. Furthermore, there are many quotes from Shostakovich that were farmed from
testimonies, articles that Shostakovich authored, newspaper interviews, radio interviews,
and personal letters especially to Ivan Sollertinsky. Most sources refer to Shostakovich’s
works and his character. Through this source we gain a better understanding of the
composer: his character and personality, his approach to music and composition, his likes
and dislikes, friendships and rivalries, his non-musical hobbies and a superficial look at
the social and political climate. It is this avoidance of the politics that seems most
apparent and perhaps the authors wanted to celebrate the person they knew on a more
intimate basis and to reveal his genius. Whatever the reason, this is a good source for
learning about the Shostakovich as seen through his circle of friends and family.
The second book, “Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich”, as related to and
edited by Solomon Volkov, a Russian music critic and journalist, is a deeply personal
account of music, academic life, Russian life, society and politics as seen through the
eyes of Shostakovich. Volkov reveals, in the author’s notes, the nature of how he
garnered the bulk of the information in the book:
“I found a successful formula to help Shostakovich speak more freely than he was
accustomed to, even with close friends. ‘ Don’t reminisce about yourself; talk about
others,’ Of course, Shostakovich reminisced about himself, but he reached himself
by talking about others, finding a reflection of himself in them”. 1
The book contains 281 pages and has a very small selection of archival photographs of
Shostakovich, most of which were of public appearances. At the end of the book, there is
a listing of his works, awards and titles of importance and not a complete listing.
Shostakovich, which, as a first-hand source, provides the reader with a perspective on his
life that is deeply personal and gives us a glimpse into the driving force and energy
behind this prolific composer. The book is full of anecdotes and quotes provided by
1
Shostakovich, Dmitriĭ Dmitrievich, and Solomon Volkov. Testimony: the Memoirs of
Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harper Colophon, 1980. Print.
3
Shostakovich’s friends, family and students and mostly himself. The writing style is
direct and to the point as was Shostakovich’s style of speaking. This book is an excellent
source as it is mostly directly from Shostakovich’s own words and point of view. He
speaks for himself, a statement that he would have relished himself. An idealist, a realist,
a satirist, an artist, Shostakovich manages to survive through tumultuous years of
revolution, tyranny and famine and powerfully puts his ideas and ideals through his
music. This book also provides the composer the opportunity to express it in his own
words, in which he knew was a risky enterprise, as it may be interpreted and manipulated
in many directions depending on who is reading it and the intent behind the
interpretation. This risk was never far from his daily reality.
“Tyrants like to see themselves as patrons of the arts. That’s a well-known fact…at
the moment when the lust for power arises in you, you’re a lost man.2
Through out the book there are many references to power struggles in society, in
academic and conservatory settings, and among artists themselves. Shostakovich
understands the pitfalls of human nature and has no problem speaking about it in himself,
his teachers, politicians, and tyrants and all but similarly addresses the strengths of
human nature as well in an unsentimental way. This book is a must read in the process of
learning about Dmitri Shostakovich and in listening to his music and surpasses the
Sollentinsky book in providing a more direct connection as it is the composer himself that
speaks to the reader.
Branch Two holds the social and political perspectives of Russia during Shostakovich’
lifetime.
(http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/contents.html)
The website, Music Under Soviet Rule compiled by Ian MacDonald is an exhaustive
reservoir of resource materials all contained within one web site. It’s an excellent starting
source, as it is a comprehensive study, set within a non-political framework according to
MacDonald. This site would be classified under two primary branches, that of politics
2
Shostakovich, Dmitriĭ Dmitrievich, and Solomon Volkov. Testimony: the Memoirs of
Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harper Colophon, 1980. Print. P. 123
4
and society as it ironically dedicates much web content to the debate of Shostakovich’s
politics and loyalties and secondly to that of his works as a composer. Which more than
50 web pages full of resources pulled from books, journals, interviews, book reviews and
much more, this web site represents academic viewpoints and research and is much less
an intimate viewpoint of the composer even though it includes material mentioned in the
earlier pages of this comparative paper. This website does not have a centralized writing
style as it is mostly of compiled material from many writers, however, it does have a
direction in deconstructing the many conceptions of Shostakovich over time by others
and in deconstructing and analyzing Shostakovich himself. There is no doubt that the web
visitor quickly discovers the many theories about the composer’s politics and loyalties
and how it is represented through his music and through his life and music appointments.
It maintains the iron curtain partially hung on a couple of rungs as this political and social
era defined and shaped his generation of artists, writers, painters, musicians and
composers. This web site is an excellent source that delves into the politics that
predominated 20th
century life. It doesn’t have a good chronological timeline of the
composers life, nor does it contain a complete listing of Shostakovich’s works.
http://www.answers.com/topic/dmitri-shostakovich
Another web site examined for this paper is Answers.com page on the composer. This
site did a better job of having more diverse topics that included his life, his personality,
his works, his politics and much more and pulled it’s information from a myriad of
sources, however, the information is much more succinct than the previously mentioned
website and is more and overview of topics and less academic endeavor. However, the
hyperlinks on this site leads the reader to many additional pages to related terms, people
and information that offer a comprehensive viewpoint on all three branches – that of his
life story, 20th
century politics and society, and his compositions. The web site also has a
more complete listing of his works and did not limit the list to only major works. The
structure of this web site approximates and encyclopedia in that it condenses a broad
range of titles and information in one area but directs the reader to many other co-related
areas that complete the picture.
5
“Russia since 1917: Four Decades of Soviet Politics” by Frederick L. Schuman squarely
fits in this category of the societal and political environment during Shostakovich’s life in
Russia. The book contains 508 pages, a few maps and an easy to read table of contents.
The books starts with the earliest history of Russia to lay the ground work for later
chapters about the Russian revolution. From Chapter 3 on, the content covers the time
period when Shostakovich lived. The writing style is fluid and easy to read however it is
packed with a lot of information and requires careful attention to details to get the whole
scene. In a different way from the following book, this book is a fantastic source to learn
about Russian history as written about through its leading historical figures.
Another source to consider for setting the political and societal climate of the time is
“Russia In Revolution: 1900-1930” by Harrison E. Salisbury. This book, by far,
outweighs all the other sources in this section with the multitudinous amount of archival
photographs that fill the 285 pages of this book in addition to the narrative that
effectively explains the most important details of the event and leading up to and moving
away from those events. The book does not contain a table of contents and the chapters
have not titles so navigating the book by a particular line of thought is not possible.
Perhaps this is a good result of this editorial decision. With no obvious rhyme or reason
for the order of the book, the reader is not swayed to have any kind of preconceived idea
due to a chapter title. This book creates the cultural, societal and political tone of
Shostakovich’s formative and early adult years. The reader is brought into the story of the
revolution, the everyday lives of common people, the excesses of the aristocracy through
the numerous archival photographs of religious art, political posters, cartoons, avant
garde paintings, archival photographs of the everyday people and of the Czar and his
family. Interspersed between the photographs are areas of text that is written to better
inform the reader of the history behind the photographs. The writing style is at a higher
level, a college level, and succinctly notes significant events before, during and after the
Russian revolution. This book is one of the best sources (for this paper) to shed a light on
life prior to the revolution, during the revolution and its later moments.
Branch Three includes The Grove’s Dictionary, which is basically the same process as
6
the Answers.com web site but even more condensed than the web site. It dedicates one
and a half pages to Dmitri Shostakovich’s life and works, only mentioning the most
notable of works such as The Nose and not detailing many other works. However, the
Grove’s Dictionary contains a comprehensive catalogue of works, its strongest feature. In
comparison to the Oxford Dictionary of Music, it comes up short in diversity of
information.
The Oxford Dictionary of Music addresses a wider number of points about Shostakovich
and his works and not notably on “The Nose” as does The Grove’s Dictionary. The
catalogue in The Oxford Dictionary of Music has more information in that it includes
details such as where pieces were debuted, the conductor, and the year.
A more focused look at a particular Shostakovich composition is exemplified in an article
titled, “Dmitri Shostakovich and Tea for Two” in the Musical Quarterly, volume 116
published in 1975 and written by Solomon Volkov. This six and half page article
explores this one composition and the circumstances around its creation. It also provides
a platform for Shostakovich’s voice to be heard, as Volkov includes direct quotes from
Shostakovich. The reader soon realizes that Shostakovich’s feelings about his
composition “Tea for Two”, a fox trot, changes when the Bolshevik Party begins to
question the validity of this piece. Shostakovich adopts this stance as a means to have a
survival mechanism. And even this one event has a rippling effect on artists in general.
This article beautifully illustrates how the political and societal factors influenced how
Shostakovich talked about music and his compositions. There existed a lingering threat.
The second article titled, “Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony and the Musical Expression
of Cognitively Complex Emotions” by Gregory Karl and Jenefer Robinson has a whole
other take on Shostakovich’s compositions and explores his music on a reasoning level.
Published in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism in 1995, this article’s basic
question is whether or not music can express emotions or whether it can only represent
dynamics of emotion. 3
Others argue that music can express human emotion via very
3
Karl, Gregory, and Jenefer Robinson. "Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony and the Musical
Expression of Cognitively Complex Emotions." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art
7
deliberate use of notes that can mimic emotions. On page 407 of the journal, the authors
meticulously analyze Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony and cite examples of motives,
notes, colors, chords and relates these examples to the theory of expressive structure. It is
an in-depth exploration of theory at it’s best however, for the purposes of this paper it
does little to inform the reader of the composer himself, the world around him or his
writing. Instead, it is a theoretical approach that may have little to do with how
Shostakovich would have thought about his symphony. Although, it is an interesting
article on it’s own, it is not a recommended resource for learning more about Dmitri
Shostakovich in any of the three category branches. It’s interesting to ponder what
Shostakovich would have thought about this purely theoretical and academic debate.
Would he have weighed in on the debate or would he have scoffed at the whole premise.
A more suitable resource for exploring Shostakovich’s compositions for this paper is
“The Music of Dmitri Shostakovich The Symphonies” by Roy Blokker with Robert
Dearling published in 1979. The book is 192 pages and also includes an introduction
from the author that spells out his intent in writing the book as an exploration of
Shostakovich’s symphonies and not an autobiography. There is a clear table of contents,
listing each symphony as a chapter heading. Although there are short references events
and places in connection to a specific symphony, it is the analysis of each one of the
symphonies that predominates. There are also short musical passages that assist in
conveying the important ideas of the analysis. The writing style is wonderfully
descriptive and delves into what Shostakovich thought and felt about each one of the
works. This resource stands out as the best one in this category of creative works and the
creative process.
To summarize, three definitive branches were established to examine ten resource
materials related to the Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. The first branch, a more
personal view of the composer’s life is best represented by the Volkov book, “Testimony:
The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich” as the words are mostly the composer’s. The
second branch, politics and society are better represented by “Russia in Revolution” as it
Criticism 53.4 (Autumn, 1995): 401-15
8
not only contained well-written text but also features an impressive archive of
photographs. As for the third branch, composition and the creative process, it’s “The
Music of Dmitri Shostakovich The Symphonies” that takes the cake. This book examines
all of Shostakovich’s symphonies and it is through this process where the power and
beauty of the composer’s orchestration is manifested to the reader.
Bibliography:
Works Cited
Blokker, Roy, and Robert Dearling. The Music of Dmitri Shostakovich, the Symphonies.
London: Tantivy, 1979. Print.
9
"Dmitri Shostakovich and "Tea for Two"" The Musical Quarterly 64.2 (1978): 223-28.
Print.
"Dmitri Shostakovich: Biography from Answers.com." Answers.com: Wiki Q&A
Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. Web. 29
Apr. 2010. <http://www.answers.com/topic/dmitri-shostakovich>.
"Dmitri Shostakovich." Shostakovich. 5th ed. 1975. Print.
Karl, Gregory, and Jenefer Robinson. "Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony and the Musical
Expression of Cognitively Complex Emotions." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art
Criticism 53.4 (Autumn, 1995): 401-15. Web.
<http://www.jstor.org/stable/430975>.
Kennedy, Michael, ed. "Shostakovich, Dmitry." The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Second
ed. 1994. Print.
MacDonald, Ian. "Music under Soviet Rule." Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/contents.html>.
Salisbury, Harrison E. Russia in Revolution, 1900-1930. New York: Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, 1978. Print.
Schuman, Frederick Lewis, and George D. Brodsky. Russia since 1917 Four Decades of
Soviet Politics. New York: Al. A Knopf, 1957. Print.
Shostakovich, Dmitrii? Dmitrievich, and Solomon Volkov. Testimony: the Memoirs of
Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harper Colophon, 1980. Print.
Sollertinskii?, D. I., and Li?u?dmila Vikent?evna. Mikheeva. Pages from the Life of
Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980. Print.
10

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Shostakovich Comparative Paper

  • 1. 1 Dmitri Shostakovich: Shaking the tree. by Julia Moreno Perri Music History 338 • Spring 2010 • Dr. Jane Perkyns This comparative paper analyzes a set of ten selected resources and materials on the life, the works, and the societal and political climate in Russia of composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This paper takes three different approaches of learning about Shostakovich – the first branch is biographical/autobiographical, the second is social and political and the third branch is his creative works and the writing process. All these branches create the shape and form of the musical tree, Dmitri Shostakovich. The trunk is the core of the times in which he lived and how it shaped and influenced him as a person, as a composer and as a thinker. Branch One is one of the older, thicker and stronger branches on the tree. It is central to understanding what made Dmitri Shostakovich tick. Two books were selected to represent a more personal look at Shostakovich. The first, “Pages from the Life of Dmitri Shostakovich” by Dmitri and Ludmilla Sollertinksky and translated by Graham Hobbs and Charles Midgley is personal story in theory however it seems to be very careful not to upset the cart. The book contains an author’s note and is comprised of 233 pages with chapters divided by sections of years, mostly in 3-4 year sections. The authors are the son and daughter-in-law of Ivan Sollertinsky, who had been Shostakovich’s dearest friend through out his life. The compilation of archival family photographs both from the Shostakovich and the Sollertinsky collections are located in the middle section of the book and are more intimate than other sources. Other sources for the photographs include the Novosti Press Agency Publishing House and photographers V. Akhlomov and O Makarov. The book highlights family, friendships and his creative career with less of an emphasis on the politics that so predominated Russian and international politics. The writing style is familiar and easy to read. It contains quotes from a variety of first person sources such
  • 2. 2 as historical and political movers and shakers, former students, relatives, composers and musicians. Furthermore, there are many quotes from Shostakovich that were farmed from testimonies, articles that Shostakovich authored, newspaper interviews, radio interviews, and personal letters especially to Ivan Sollertinsky. Most sources refer to Shostakovich’s works and his character. Through this source we gain a better understanding of the composer: his character and personality, his approach to music and composition, his likes and dislikes, friendships and rivalries, his non-musical hobbies and a superficial look at the social and political climate. It is this avoidance of the politics that seems most apparent and perhaps the authors wanted to celebrate the person they knew on a more intimate basis and to reveal his genius. Whatever the reason, this is a good source for learning about the Shostakovich as seen through his circle of friends and family. The second book, “Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich”, as related to and edited by Solomon Volkov, a Russian music critic and journalist, is a deeply personal account of music, academic life, Russian life, society and politics as seen through the eyes of Shostakovich. Volkov reveals, in the author’s notes, the nature of how he garnered the bulk of the information in the book: “I found a successful formula to help Shostakovich speak more freely than he was accustomed to, even with close friends. ‘ Don’t reminisce about yourself; talk about others,’ Of course, Shostakovich reminisced about himself, but he reached himself by talking about others, finding a reflection of himself in them”. 1 The book contains 281 pages and has a very small selection of archival photographs of Shostakovich, most of which were of public appearances. At the end of the book, there is a listing of his works, awards and titles of importance and not a complete listing. Shostakovich, which, as a first-hand source, provides the reader with a perspective on his life that is deeply personal and gives us a glimpse into the driving force and energy behind this prolific composer. The book is full of anecdotes and quotes provided by 1 Shostakovich, Dmitriĭ Dmitrievich, and Solomon Volkov. Testimony: the Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harper Colophon, 1980. Print.
  • 3. 3 Shostakovich’s friends, family and students and mostly himself. The writing style is direct and to the point as was Shostakovich’s style of speaking. This book is an excellent source as it is mostly directly from Shostakovich’s own words and point of view. He speaks for himself, a statement that he would have relished himself. An idealist, a realist, a satirist, an artist, Shostakovich manages to survive through tumultuous years of revolution, tyranny and famine and powerfully puts his ideas and ideals through his music. This book also provides the composer the opportunity to express it in his own words, in which he knew was a risky enterprise, as it may be interpreted and manipulated in many directions depending on who is reading it and the intent behind the interpretation. This risk was never far from his daily reality. “Tyrants like to see themselves as patrons of the arts. That’s a well-known fact…at the moment when the lust for power arises in you, you’re a lost man.2 Through out the book there are many references to power struggles in society, in academic and conservatory settings, and among artists themselves. Shostakovich understands the pitfalls of human nature and has no problem speaking about it in himself, his teachers, politicians, and tyrants and all but similarly addresses the strengths of human nature as well in an unsentimental way. This book is a must read in the process of learning about Dmitri Shostakovich and in listening to his music and surpasses the Sollentinsky book in providing a more direct connection as it is the composer himself that speaks to the reader. Branch Two holds the social and political perspectives of Russia during Shostakovich’ lifetime. (http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/contents.html) The website, Music Under Soviet Rule compiled by Ian MacDonald is an exhaustive reservoir of resource materials all contained within one web site. It’s an excellent starting source, as it is a comprehensive study, set within a non-political framework according to MacDonald. This site would be classified under two primary branches, that of politics 2 Shostakovich, Dmitriĭ Dmitrievich, and Solomon Volkov. Testimony: the Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harper Colophon, 1980. Print. P. 123
  • 4. 4 and society as it ironically dedicates much web content to the debate of Shostakovich’s politics and loyalties and secondly to that of his works as a composer. Which more than 50 web pages full of resources pulled from books, journals, interviews, book reviews and much more, this web site represents academic viewpoints and research and is much less an intimate viewpoint of the composer even though it includes material mentioned in the earlier pages of this comparative paper. This website does not have a centralized writing style as it is mostly of compiled material from many writers, however, it does have a direction in deconstructing the many conceptions of Shostakovich over time by others and in deconstructing and analyzing Shostakovich himself. There is no doubt that the web visitor quickly discovers the many theories about the composer’s politics and loyalties and how it is represented through his music and through his life and music appointments. It maintains the iron curtain partially hung on a couple of rungs as this political and social era defined and shaped his generation of artists, writers, painters, musicians and composers. This web site is an excellent source that delves into the politics that predominated 20th century life. It doesn’t have a good chronological timeline of the composers life, nor does it contain a complete listing of Shostakovich’s works. http://www.answers.com/topic/dmitri-shostakovich Another web site examined for this paper is Answers.com page on the composer. This site did a better job of having more diverse topics that included his life, his personality, his works, his politics and much more and pulled it’s information from a myriad of sources, however, the information is much more succinct than the previously mentioned website and is more and overview of topics and less academic endeavor. However, the hyperlinks on this site leads the reader to many additional pages to related terms, people and information that offer a comprehensive viewpoint on all three branches – that of his life story, 20th century politics and society, and his compositions. The web site also has a more complete listing of his works and did not limit the list to only major works. The structure of this web site approximates and encyclopedia in that it condenses a broad range of titles and information in one area but directs the reader to many other co-related areas that complete the picture.
  • 5. 5 “Russia since 1917: Four Decades of Soviet Politics” by Frederick L. Schuman squarely fits in this category of the societal and political environment during Shostakovich’s life in Russia. The book contains 508 pages, a few maps and an easy to read table of contents. The books starts with the earliest history of Russia to lay the ground work for later chapters about the Russian revolution. From Chapter 3 on, the content covers the time period when Shostakovich lived. The writing style is fluid and easy to read however it is packed with a lot of information and requires careful attention to details to get the whole scene. In a different way from the following book, this book is a fantastic source to learn about Russian history as written about through its leading historical figures. Another source to consider for setting the political and societal climate of the time is “Russia In Revolution: 1900-1930” by Harrison E. Salisbury. This book, by far, outweighs all the other sources in this section with the multitudinous amount of archival photographs that fill the 285 pages of this book in addition to the narrative that effectively explains the most important details of the event and leading up to and moving away from those events. The book does not contain a table of contents and the chapters have not titles so navigating the book by a particular line of thought is not possible. Perhaps this is a good result of this editorial decision. With no obvious rhyme or reason for the order of the book, the reader is not swayed to have any kind of preconceived idea due to a chapter title. This book creates the cultural, societal and political tone of Shostakovich’s formative and early adult years. The reader is brought into the story of the revolution, the everyday lives of common people, the excesses of the aristocracy through the numerous archival photographs of religious art, political posters, cartoons, avant garde paintings, archival photographs of the everyday people and of the Czar and his family. Interspersed between the photographs are areas of text that is written to better inform the reader of the history behind the photographs. The writing style is at a higher level, a college level, and succinctly notes significant events before, during and after the Russian revolution. This book is one of the best sources (for this paper) to shed a light on life prior to the revolution, during the revolution and its later moments. Branch Three includes The Grove’s Dictionary, which is basically the same process as
  • 6. 6 the Answers.com web site but even more condensed than the web site. It dedicates one and a half pages to Dmitri Shostakovich’s life and works, only mentioning the most notable of works such as The Nose and not detailing many other works. However, the Grove’s Dictionary contains a comprehensive catalogue of works, its strongest feature. In comparison to the Oxford Dictionary of Music, it comes up short in diversity of information. The Oxford Dictionary of Music addresses a wider number of points about Shostakovich and his works and not notably on “The Nose” as does The Grove’s Dictionary. The catalogue in The Oxford Dictionary of Music has more information in that it includes details such as where pieces were debuted, the conductor, and the year. A more focused look at a particular Shostakovich composition is exemplified in an article titled, “Dmitri Shostakovich and Tea for Two” in the Musical Quarterly, volume 116 published in 1975 and written by Solomon Volkov. This six and half page article explores this one composition and the circumstances around its creation. It also provides a platform for Shostakovich’s voice to be heard, as Volkov includes direct quotes from Shostakovich. The reader soon realizes that Shostakovich’s feelings about his composition “Tea for Two”, a fox trot, changes when the Bolshevik Party begins to question the validity of this piece. Shostakovich adopts this stance as a means to have a survival mechanism. And even this one event has a rippling effect on artists in general. This article beautifully illustrates how the political and societal factors influenced how Shostakovich talked about music and his compositions. There existed a lingering threat. The second article titled, “Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony and the Musical Expression of Cognitively Complex Emotions” by Gregory Karl and Jenefer Robinson has a whole other take on Shostakovich’s compositions and explores his music on a reasoning level. Published in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism in 1995, this article’s basic question is whether or not music can express emotions or whether it can only represent dynamics of emotion. 3 Others argue that music can express human emotion via very 3 Karl, Gregory, and Jenefer Robinson. "Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony and the Musical Expression of Cognitively Complex Emotions." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art
  • 7. 7 deliberate use of notes that can mimic emotions. On page 407 of the journal, the authors meticulously analyze Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony and cite examples of motives, notes, colors, chords and relates these examples to the theory of expressive structure. It is an in-depth exploration of theory at it’s best however, for the purposes of this paper it does little to inform the reader of the composer himself, the world around him or his writing. Instead, it is a theoretical approach that may have little to do with how Shostakovich would have thought about his symphony. Although, it is an interesting article on it’s own, it is not a recommended resource for learning more about Dmitri Shostakovich in any of the three category branches. It’s interesting to ponder what Shostakovich would have thought about this purely theoretical and academic debate. Would he have weighed in on the debate or would he have scoffed at the whole premise. A more suitable resource for exploring Shostakovich’s compositions for this paper is “The Music of Dmitri Shostakovich The Symphonies” by Roy Blokker with Robert Dearling published in 1979. The book is 192 pages and also includes an introduction from the author that spells out his intent in writing the book as an exploration of Shostakovich’s symphonies and not an autobiography. There is a clear table of contents, listing each symphony as a chapter heading. Although there are short references events and places in connection to a specific symphony, it is the analysis of each one of the symphonies that predominates. There are also short musical passages that assist in conveying the important ideas of the analysis. The writing style is wonderfully descriptive and delves into what Shostakovich thought and felt about each one of the works. This resource stands out as the best one in this category of creative works and the creative process. To summarize, three definitive branches were established to examine ten resource materials related to the Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. The first branch, a more personal view of the composer’s life is best represented by the Volkov book, “Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich” as the words are mostly the composer’s. The second branch, politics and society are better represented by “Russia in Revolution” as it Criticism 53.4 (Autumn, 1995): 401-15
  • 8. 8 not only contained well-written text but also features an impressive archive of photographs. As for the third branch, composition and the creative process, it’s “The Music of Dmitri Shostakovich The Symphonies” that takes the cake. This book examines all of Shostakovich’s symphonies and it is through this process where the power and beauty of the composer’s orchestration is manifested to the reader. Bibliography: Works Cited Blokker, Roy, and Robert Dearling. The Music of Dmitri Shostakovich, the Symphonies. London: Tantivy, 1979. Print.
  • 9. 9 "Dmitri Shostakovich and "Tea for Two"" The Musical Quarterly 64.2 (1978): 223-28. Print. "Dmitri Shostakovich: Biography from Answers.com." Answers.com: Wiki Q&A Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://www.answers.com/topic/dmitri-shostakovich>. "Dmitri Shostakovich." Shostakovich. 5th ed. 1975. Print. Karl, Gregory, and Jenefer Robinson. "Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony and the Musical Expression of Cognitively Complex Emotions." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 53.4 (Autumn, 1995): 401-15. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/430975>. Kennedy, Michael, ed. "Shostakovich, Dmitry." The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Second ed. 1994. Print. MacDonald, Ian. "Music under Soviet Rule." Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. <http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/contents.html>. Salisbury, Harrison E. Russia in Revolution, 1900-1930. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978. Print. Schuman, Frederick Lewis, and George D. Brodsky. Russia since 1917 Four Decades of Soviet Politics. New York: Al. A Knopf, 1957. Print. Shostakovich, Dmitrii? Dmitrievich, and Solomon Volkov. Testimony: the Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harper Colophon, 1980. Print. Sollertinskii?, D. I., and Li?u?dmila Vikent?evna. Mikheeva. Pages from the Life of Dmitri Shostakovich. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980. Print.
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