Dmitry Shostakovich was one of the most successful composers of the twentieth century – a musician who adapted as no other to the unique pressures of his age. By turns vilified and feted by Stalin during the Great Purge, Shostakovich twice came close to the whirlwind of political repression and he remained under political surveillance all his life, despite the many privileges and awards heaped upon him in old age. Yet Shostakovich had a remarkable ability to work with, rather than against, prevailing ideological demands, and it was this quality that ensured both his survival and his posterity.
Pauline Fairclough’s absorbing new biography offers a vivid portrait that goes well beyond the habitual cliches of repression and suffering. Featuring quotations from previously unpublished letters as well as rarely-seen photographs, Fairclough provides a fresh insight into the music and life of a composer whose legacy, above all, was to have written some of the greatest and most cherished music of the last century.
'Pauline Fairclough's attractively readable and fair-minded new biography sails elegantly past old arguments, while taking fascinating account of the mass of new research that has appeared in recent years. The result is a wise and sympathetic portrait of a remarkable man, which will appeal broadly to musicians and music-lovers, to those who already love Shostakovich's music and those who would like to discover it for themselves.'-Gerard McBurney, Composer
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