Wartime correspondence between the conductor Sir Henry Wood and the composer Dmitrii Shostakovich marks the earliest point of Anglo-Soviet musical exchange at the highest artistic levels. Though short-lived due to Wood’s death in 1944, the correspondence shows how genuine warmth and mutual regard could coexist with a relationship that was brokered by government officials. Other archive sources around them reveal the varying shades of cynicism and sincerity that underpinned the whole project of wartime cultural exchange between Britain and the USSR. Though this rendered Anglo-Soviet connections inescapably underpinned by political motivations, it could not prevent genuine artistic and personal relationships from forming, albeit on a limited basis. The result, in this case, was a brief correspondence that acted as a crucial element of goodwill in Anglo-Soviet diplomacy during the war.
- Henry Wood
- Vsesoiuznoe Obshchestvo Kul'turnoi Sviazi s zagranitsei (VOKS)