Butorac won over symphony search committee with undeniable chemistry
Then they were driven by threats or by shots fired overhead, in groups of about ten, to the edge of a ravine known as Babi Yar. Many of them were beaten. Then would come the next group. Jews came and died for 36 hours. To this day, despite the fact that the Russian authorities have never raised a memorial at Babi Yar, it remains a place of a pilgrimage for Russian Jews. Conservatives accused Yevtushenko of a lack of patriotism and criticized him for his one-sided approach to the subject, i. The premiere of the symphony was planned for 18 December ; however, several days earlier, in a meeting between Nikita Khrushchev and representatives of artistic circles, Yevtushenko accused the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of supporting antisemitism.
The consequences were unavoidable: the publication of Babi Yar was stopped, and there was mounting pressure to postpone the premiere of the symphony. However, so many people had already managed to enter the building that the spacious interior of the Conservatoire could hardly fit them all. Some scholars [ who? Because these previously hidden emotions were expressed with such power and passion, the Seventh became a major public event. Alexei Tolstoy , who played a pivotal role in the life of the Fifth Symphony, was the first to note the significance of the spontaneous reaction to the Seventh.
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After hearing an orchestral rehearsal of it, Tolstoy wrote a highly positive review of the work for Pravda. Tolstoy's actions became instrumental in the life of the Seventh. Stalin read Pravda closely and he generally trusted Tolstoy's comments. Tolstoy's interpretation of the Seventh, in fact, lined up with Stalin's stated support of nationalism and patriotism.
The Soviets had been seen not long ago in the Western press as godless villains and barbarians. Now the Americans and British had to believe that the Soviet Union was helping protect the values those countries cherished from fascism for the Soviets to continue receiving those countries' support.
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Stalin therefore took the approach of, "If you can't beat them, join them" when it came to the Seventh Symphony, approving a propaganda campaign centered around the work. Magazines and newspapers continued printing stories about it. The piece continued having enormous success. People still wept at concerts. They often rose from their seats during the finale and applauded thunderously afterwards. The difference now was that they were now aiding a potent propaganda campaign.
Shostakovich had been known in the West before the war.
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When news of the Seventh quickly spread in the British and American press, the composer's popularity soared. The symphony was played 62 times in the United States in the —43 season. Shostakovich's contemporaries were dismayed, even angered by its lack of subtlety, crudity, and overblown dramatics.
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Virgil Thomson wrote that, "It seems to have been written for the slow-witted, the not very musical and the distracted," adding that if Shostakovich continued writing in this manner, it might "eventually disqualify him for consideration as a serious composer. Disdainful remarks about the symphony being nothing more than a bombastic accompaniment for a bad war movie were voiced immediately after the London and New York premieres.
However, in the cultural and political ear of the period, they had no effect. The American public-relations machine had joined the Soviet propaganda arm in portraying the Seventh as a symbol of cooperation and spiritual unity of both peoples in their fight against the Nazis. Once the novelty of the Seventh Symphony had worn away, audience interest in the West quickly dissipated. One reason may have been the work's length. At about 70 minutes, it was longer than any previous Shostakovich symphony.
While it could be argued that he could have made the symphony 30 minutes shorter by condensing his message, the long passages of sparsely accompanied solos for wind instruments present listeners with the opportunity to study them, appreciate the inner character of the music as each instrument soliloquises on a given mood.
To utilize this to the extent that Shostakovich did, combined with a wordless narrative style of mood-painting, necessitated an expansive time frame. Even so, this extended time span may have seemed excessive to some critics, especially since Western critics were unaware of the anti-Stalinist subtext hidden in the work. The Seventh Symphony was actually a convenient target from the start for Western critics.
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It was considered a strange, ungainly hybrid of Mahler and Stravinsky —too long, too broad-gestured in narrative and overly emotional in tone. Those images—stylized fanfares, march rhythms, ostinati , folkloric themes and pastoral episodes—could easily be considered [ by whom? Because of his emphasis on these images, Shostakovich can be said to have allowed the work's message to outweigh its craftsmanship.
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Soviet audiences did not come to the music with the same expectations as Western listeners. What mattered to Soviet listeners was the message and its serious moral content.
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The Seventh maintained its position with that audience because its content was so momentous. They believed that Shostakovich's pessimism had short-circuited what might have otherwise been a masterpiece in the vein of the Overture. The tragic mood of Shostakovich's next symphony, the Eighth , intensified the critical discord. When Testimony was published in the West in , Shostakovich's overall anti-Stalinist tone and specific comments about the anti-totalitarian content hidden in the Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh Symphonies were held suspect initially.
They were in some ways a complete about-face from the comments the West had received over the years, many times in the composer's words.
Questions also arose over Solomon Volkov 's role—to what degree he was a compiler of previously written material, a transcriber of the composer's actual words from interviews, or an author essentially putting words into the composer's mouth. Two things happened. First was the composer's son Maxim 's view on the accuracy of Testimony.
He initially stated to the Sunday Times , after his defection to the West in , that it was a book "about my father, not by him". It's accurate. The basis of the book is correct. By doing so, they helped corroborate what had appeared in Testimony , allowing the West to reevaluate the symphony in light of their statements.
In recent years the Seventh Symphony has again become more popular, along with the rest of Shostakovich's work. The quotation is clearly the "invasion" theme, and the manner in which it is presented seems very much a parody. Incidentally, earlier on, Michael Caine as Harry Palmer attends the end of a concert of what is claimed to be the Leningrad Symphony, whereas in fact the finale from Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony is heard.
On 31 January a film version of the Symphony was premiered in St. Petersburg, with the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra , conducted by Maxim Shostakovich accompanying a film directed by Georgy Paradzhanov, constructed from documentary materials, including film of the siege of Leningrad. Many survivors of the siege were guests at the performance. The composer's widow Irina acted as script consultant to the project, and its musical advisors included Rudolf Barshai and Boris Tishchenko.
The film and performance were repeated, with the same artists, in London on 9 May at the Royal Albert Hall. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Moscow: Sovetskiy kompozitor, , page Petersburg, Russia". Retrieved Petersburg , Petersburg , Petersburg , — Petersburg, , Shostakovich o vremeni i o sebe — Moscow, , The Observer. Retrieved 20 October Sunlight at Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia. New York: Basic Books. Petersburg, Archived from the original on CS1 maint: Archived copy as title link.
Dmitri Shostakovich. Piano Concerto No. Portal:Classical music.