Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 (Oxford Keynotes) (Hardcover)

Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 (Oxford Keynotes) By Marina Frolova-Walker, Jonathan Walker Cover Image
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The book is devoted to Shostakovich's most controversial symphony, composed at the height of Stalin's Purges. It rescued Shostakovich from official disfavour and deeply moved audiences. The critics recognized it as a masterpiece, but they were perplexed by its ambiguities, especially at the end of the Symphony: some imagined it as the joyful final victory of socialism, while others heard the triumph instead of a sinister and oppressive force. The second interpretation was pushed into the background, but the controversy persisted, with the further complication of two very different tempo markings for the closing section, both of which seemed to be approved by the composer. The authors give an authoritative account of the tempo controversy and the effect of the different tempos on the reception of the work in the West.

Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 delves into the history of the work's composition, the pressures Shostakovich experienced at the time, and the cultural environment from the time the composer began work on Symphony through to the settling of its official critical reception. At the center of this exploration is the musical score itself, which is full of secrets that have taken decades to uncover, the most colorful of which is the case for Shostakovich's extensive references to Bizet's Carmen, and the connection between these and Shostakovich's lover of the mid-30s, Lala Carmen (Elena Konstantinovskaya). The authors show how Shostakovich largely (but not entirely) set aside his influences from Mahler and German modernists, and in replacement absorbed Beethoven and Tchaikovsky with the same ingenuity as his previous influences. Shostakovich decided to make a virtue of a necessity, and created one of the richest of symphonic scores, allowing himself to retain his artistic pride while winning the official approval necessary for regaining his livelihood. These events all unfolded in the atmosphere of terror created by Stalin's "Great Purge". This book is the first to be devoted to this watershed symphony, and includes secrets of the score that took decades to uncover.

About the Author

Marina Frolova-Walker is Professor of Music History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Clare College. She is the author of Russian Music and Nationalism from Glinka to Stalin (2007), Stalin's Music Prize: Soviet Culture and Politics (2016), and co-author of Music and Soviet Power, 1917-32 (2012). Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2014, and the recipient of the RMA Dent Medal for her outstanding contribution to musicology, Professor Frolova-Walker is committed to sharing the insights gained from her research with a wider public through talks, radio and TV appearances, and publications. Jonathan Walker is a London-based freelance writer and private teacher of advanced piano and composition. He is co-author of Music and Soviet Power (2012). He studied at Edinburgh University, at the Liszt Academy, Budapest, and at Queen's University Belfast, where he defended his PhD dissertation on the musical-work concept. He has taught at Queen's University Belfast and Cambridge University, performed on BBC2 television, given talks for BBC Radio 4, and published translations from French and Russian.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780197566329
ISBN-10: 0197566324
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2024
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Oxford Keynotes