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Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist

Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist
    Book Description:

    She traces his musical roots, piano studies, repertoire, and concert career through his correspondence with family and friends and his own and his contemporaries' memoirs, using material never before available in English. This biographical narrative is interwoven with analyses of Shoshtakovich's piano and chamber works, demonstrating how he interpreted his own music. For the first time, Shoshtakovich's own recordings are used as primary sources to discover what made his playing unique and to dispel commonly held myths about his style of interpretation. His recorded performances are analysed in detail, specifically his tempos, phrasing, dynamics, pedal, and tonal production. Some unpublished variants of musical texts are included and examples of his interpretations are provided and compared to various editions of his published scores.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7125-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-5)

    Dmitri Shostakovich was not only a great composer of the twentieth century but also an outstanding Russian pianist, one of the best of his generation. His universal fame as a composer has tended to overshadow his significance as a brilliant performer of his own works. Although many scholars have analysed Shostakovich’s music, his career as a pianist has been largely overlooked by biographers. This book represents the first careful examination of this important aspect of his life.

    By his early twenties Shostakovich was already a well-known pianist in Russia, but unlike Rachmaninov or Prokofiev he never toured extensively overseas. His...

  6. 1 Roots, 1906–1923
    (pp. 6-38)

    Unlike the vast majority of musical prodigies, the young Dmitri Shostakovich displayed little noticeable talent or interest in music during the first eight years of his life. Ironically, the Shostakoviches, who were passionate lovers of music and a typical intelligentsia family of St Petersburg, did not recognize their son’s gift until almost his ninth birthday. Born on 25 September 1906, Mitya (Dmitri) was the middle child of Dmitri Boleslavovich (1875–1922) and Sofia Vasilyevna (1878–1955) Shostakovich. Their first daughter, Maria, was three years his senior; their second, Zoya, was three years his junior. A curious and precocious child, Dmitri...

  7. 2 At the Crossroads, 1923–1933
    (pp. 39-69)

    Working in the cinema during 1924–25 had depleted Shostakovich’s time and energy and made it difficult for him to concentrate on his compositions. Thus, his work on theTwo Pieces for String Octet, op. 11 and the Symphony No. 1 op. 12, continued much longer than usual. Conceived in 1923, the first symphony was completed in its piano version only at the end of April 1925, to be presented as Shostakovich’s graduation piece for his final examination as a composer on 6 May 1925. The two-piano version was performed by the composer with Pavel Feldt. The orchestral score was...

  8. 3 Composer-Performer, 1933-1945
    (pp. 70-119)

    Shostakovich’s wish to play publicly again prompted him to write a new cycle of preludes. On 30 December 1932, only two weeks after the completion ofLady Macbeth, he wrote the first prelude of his new opus; continuing work through January and February, he finished the last one on 2 March 1933.¹ Other factors aside from his wish to perform also influenced his decision to return to the concert platform. First, public performance of his own works represented an ideal way to promote and publicize them. A more practical reason was his need for additional income, brought about in large...

  9. 4 Return of Fear, 1945–1953
    (pp. 120-147)

    Shostakovich greeted 1945, the last year of the war, in an atmosphere of gloom and depression. The living conditions in Moscow were miserable: from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening, there was no light or water. In winter, by 3:00 p.m. it was already so dark that Shostakovich, with his bad eyesight, could not write. His mood was bleak.¹

    Nevertheless life went on. Even though Shostakovich composed nothing during the last few months of the war, we have evidence that his powers of memory and playing abilities remained wonderfully sound. In 1945 a group of Conservatory students...

  10. 5 Recognition 1953–1975
    (pp. 148-182)

    In terms of both composition and performance, 1954 was one of Shostakovich’s least productive years. He considered his works of that year – music for the filmSong of the Great Rivers, op. 95,Festive Overture,” op. 96, andFive Romances on Dolmatovsky’s Verses, op. 98 – meager. Obviously concerned about this lack of productivity, he openly expressed his worries at his birthday celebration of 25 September 1954 when, in response to a guest’s congratulatory toast, he said: “You should wish that I do some composing. For one whole year now, I have been unable to write.”¹

    Moreover, Shostakovich did...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 183-196)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-204)
  13. Discography of Shostakovich’s Recorded Performances
    (pp. 205-214)
  14. Index
    (pp. 215-222)