By Wendy Lesser
Most prior books approximately Dmitri Shostakovich have thinking about both his symphonies and operas, or his courting to the regime less than which he lived, or either, when you consider that those large-scale works have been those that attracted the curiosity and occasionally the condemnation of the Soviet gurus. Music for Silenced Voices appears at Shostakovich in the course of the again door, because it have been, of his fifteen quartets, the works which his widow characterised as a "diary, the tale of his soul." The silences and the voices have been of many varieties, together with the political silencing of adventurous writers, artists, and musicians through the Stalin period; the misplaced voices of Shostakovich's operas (a shape he deserted previous to turning to thread quartets); and the death-silenced voices of his shut buddies, to whom he devoted lots of those chamber works.
Wendy Lesser has developed a desirable narrative during which the fifteen quartets, thought of one after the other in chronological order, lead the reader in the course of the own, political, occasions that formed Shostakovich's singular, emblematic twentieth-century lifestyles. Weaving jointly interviews with the composer's associates, relatives, and associates, in addition to conversations with present-day musicians who've performed the quartets, Lesser sheds new gentle at the guy and the musician. one of many only a few books approximately Shostakovich that's aimed toward a common instead of an educational viewers, Music for Silenced Voices is a excitement to learn; even as, it really is conscientiously trustworthy to the recognized proof during this notoriously advanced lifestyles. it is going to fill readers with the need to listen to the quartets, that are one of the so much compelling and emotionally robust monuments of the previous century's tune.
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Extra info for Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets
Even at this stage, Shostakovich was being treated as a cherished genius, and not only by his relentlessly overprotective mother. There are stories of faculty members at the Conservatory procuring extra government-subsidized food for this anemic, tubercular, highly promising young musician, and other tales of that sort. But this story of relative insulation is countered by another story, one that Shostakovich told to a close friend much later in his life. Flora Litvinova, who met Shostakovich during the Sec- Elegy 17 ond World War and remained friendly with him for decades, at one point tried to explain what she saw as his unusual degree of fearfulness and anxiety.
At the time of the revolution, the family was living in a large top-floor flat at 9 Nikolaevskaya Street (later renamed Marat Street, or Ulitsa Marata in Russian). The five of them had moved there in 1914 from the somewhat smaller apartment in which Shostakovich had been born, just down the street at 16 Nikolaevskaya, and he himself was to remain in the 9 Marat apartment well into adulthood. He did not leave it, in fact, until around the time of the Lady Macbeth premiere, in late 1933 or early 1934, and the twenty-year period he spent there was to prove the longest time he ever lived anywhere in his life.
When he was fifteen— that is, in February of 1922—his father died suddenly of pneu- 16 m u s i c f o r s i l e n c e d vo i c e s monia, and the family was plunged into relative poverty. His mother had to go out to work for the first time in her life (she took a job as a cashier), and his older sister, Maria, gave piano lessons to supplement the family income. But even this was not enough to maintain the household at its former level. The servant was let go, and four of the original seven rooms were rented out to tenants, who then shared the kitchen and bathroom with the Shostakoviches.