Music Born Of Fear Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5


FEW PIECES IN HISTORY have been so dependent on historical context. Contemporary writings by Shostakovich’s family, friends, colleagues, even some by the composer himself, help us understand the dramatic personal, professional and political forces that shaped his message.

What's Your Reaction?

November 27, 2009
In all the books on Shostakovich I've read, the name of Sir Edward Downes has not figured. I've no doubt he may well have met Shostakovich but whether he knew him personally is another matter.
November 25, 2009
Quote from Testimony (p.102) - " I'll never believe that a man who understood nothing could feel for the Fifth Symphony. Of course they understood, they understood what was happening around them and they understood what the Fifth was about." ..."Even before the war, in Leningrad there probably wasn't a single family who hadn't lost someone, a father, a brother, or if not a relative, then a close friend. Everyone had someone to cry over, but you had to cry silently, under your blanket, so that no one would see. Everyone feared everyone else, and the sorrow oppressed and suffocated us."
October 20, 2009

In the late 1980s I once attended a talk given by the late Sir Edward Downes, who was at that time Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic and had known Shostakovich personally. Responding to a question from the audience about the book 'Testimony', Sir Edward dismissed the work and added that Volkov also approached the wife of Sergei Prokoviev (who Sir Edward knew) saying that he would be prepared to write something similar about her husband.She declined believing that the man was a fraudster.

Post Your Reaction