Shostakovich : A Life
(Laurel E. Fay
For this authoritative post-cold-war biography of Shostakovich's illustrious but turbulent career under Soviet rule, Laurel E. Fay has gone back to primary documents: Shostakovich's many letters, concert programs and reviews, newspaper articles, and diaries of his contemporaries.
Shostakovich: A Life Remembered
This book offers a unique perspective on one of our century's
most complex, enigmatic, and controversial geniuses, set in
the musical and political context of his time. It is a
compendium of official documents, private letters, diaries,
and interviews with Shostakovich's family, friends, and
enemies (in Russia and elsewhere), as well as articles written
especially for the book. The result is a fascinating
first-hand portrait of Shostakovich the man as husband,
widower, father, and friend, and Shostakovich the composer,
who--by turns officially reviled and extolled--became a symbol
for the suffering of his people. Indomitably creative despite
constant fear, repression, bereavement, and debilitating
illnesses, his ultimate tragedy was that the political "thaw"
came too late for his failing health. Many of Wilson's
respondents are musicians who knew that Shostakovich encoded
his music with hidden subtexts to express his secret
thoughts. On the other hand, his political statements, written
and spoken under duress, were often ambiguous and
contradictory, and Wilson quotes both conciliatory and hostile
reactions to them.
Shostakovich: String Quartets
(Eugene Drucker, Lawrence Dutton, et al.; Emerson String Quartet
Box Set (5 discs) Every month, there seem to be another new half-dozen Shostakovich recordings, but this set of his 15 gripping string quartets is worth checking out. The Emerson String Quartet deliver beautiful, yet slightly restrained, performances of these ominous works.