Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich

I was inspired to read this autobiography after learning about the censorship composers like Shostakovich had to contend with in Soviet Russia in the early twentieth century.  It’s a fascinating insight, not only into Shostakovich’s life but also that of many other composers and musicians – Glazunov and Prokofiev to name just two.  It reveals a very human side to these people, and tells of the fear and desperation they endured in a political climate in which many felt forced to write ‘denunciations’ of fellow composers simply in order to survive.  It’s also engrossing to read from a musical perspective, describing how Shostakovich composed, his opinion of other contemporary composers and how he felt about the receptions of his works.

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