Soviet Union, USSR, Stalin, Shostakovich, formalism, Socialist Realism
Can music that is regulated and restrained by a dictator still be inspired? This question reveals ideology concerning how music should be created and valued. Does outside control restrict artistic integrity and autonomy? Not all composers have been free to write whatever their soul demands. People in authority have held power and control over artistic processes. Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian composer whose work was subjected to the tastes of a tyrannical ruler and Communist party. Though Shostakovich did not compose in an environment that fostered musical exploration, his work should not be mourned but celebrated. Shostakovich was not a victim, but a victor of his music by the way he composed in the midst of the threat of denouncement. Though Shostakovich wrote music to follow the demands of others, the music was still his by the very fact that he created it; he brought it into existence and highlighted it with nuances of his being and personality as he produced each work. This research examines three critical pieces of Shostakovich’s canon to ascertain whether controlled art subjected to the whims, preferences, and objectives of others can still be inspired. Though a composer might be told what to say, it is he who chooses how to word a phrase. Shostakovich’s output, particularly the first symphony, his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and fifth symphony exemplify that restrained and restricted music does not necessitate a sacrifice in artistic integrity; it can be inspired, celebrated, and worthy of study.
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Strayer, Hope R.
"Altered but Not Silenced: How Shostakovich Retained His Voice as an Artist despite the Demands of a Dictator,"
Musical Offerings: Vol. 4
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/musicalofferings/vol4/iss2/2
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