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Shostakovich, memoirs


The life, politics, and music of Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich have been subjects of extreme controversy. Despite the turmoil of his dealings with Stalin, many people thought of him as a loyal servant of Russia and a masterful composer. It was not until the publication in 1979 of a book called Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich surfaced that debates began to take form that would eventually charge into the realm of violent disputes from many sides. This book, written by Solomon Volkov, portrayed Shostakovich as a bitter dissident. One year later, an American researcher and specialist in Russian and Soviet music by the name of Laurel Fay responded to Testimony with an article in The Russian Review entitled “Shostakovich Versus Volkov: Whose Testimony?” in which she brought forth evidence of falsification. Presently, Shostakovich researchers are often split into two schools of thought: revisionist and anti-revisionist. The revisionists agree with Volkov’s portrayal in Testimony that Shostakovich was indeed a secret dissenter. The anti-revisionist views cover a much broader spectrum, but many reject the authenticity of Testimony and are of the opinion that to think of the Russian composer as a dissenter is irrelevant or entirely false, some to more extent than others. Testimony seems to lie at the heart of these debates, and it is around these purported memoirs and the evidence for and against them that this paper will be focusing on. While the memoirs of Testimony and its claims of authenticity must be treated with caution, the Testimony-portrayal of Shostakovich corresponds with the views of his friends and family and therefore provides valuable insight into the composer’s life and state of mind.





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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


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