The 'Old Shostakovich': Reception in the British Press

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This article attempts to reconstruct the persona of the 'Old Shostakovich' in Britain - the pre-Testimony Shostakovich that is now a distant memory. Through examining widely disseminated sources such as newspaper reviews, articles in popular magazines and programme notes, it traces Shostakovich's reception history in a culture that effected a shift from staunchly defending music's independence from politics to insisting upon political readings of Shostakovich's music. Reconstructing the history of Shostakovich's British reception charts a range of changing attitudes: those of music writers to music's role in society; of Britain's growing awareness of the social and cultural effects of Stalinism; and lastly - most importantly - of Shostakovich's developing stature as his music became more frequently played. Given the scale of this task, I have chosen to focus on the reception of the Fifth Symphony, arguably the work that has accumulated the heaviest layer of interpretative commentary and which has been most controversial in Britain from its very first performance in 1939 until the present day.
Translated title of the contributionThe 'Old Shostakovich': Reception in the British Press
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266 - 296
Number of pages31
JournalMusic and Letters
Volume88 (2)
Publication statusPublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Oxford University Press

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