Dmitri Shostakovich is without a doubt one of the central composers of the 20th century. His symphonies and string quartets are mainstays of the repertoire. But Shostakovich is also a figure whose story raises challenging and exciting issues that go far beyond music: they touch on questions of conscience, the moral role of the artist, the plight of humanity in the face of total war and mass oppression, and the inner life of history's bloodiest century. And though he was not without flaws, he was a faithful witness to the survival of the human spirit under totalitarianism.
And now you can discover the extraordinary life, times, and music of Shostakovich in a probing series of eight lectures from an acclaimed conductor, teacher, and music historian. Drawing on both the flood of declassified documents from the Soviet Union that began in 1991 and Shostakovich's own extraordinarily frank posthumous reminiscences, Professor Greenberg shows how Shostakovich, who, in the words of a friend, "did not want to rot in a prison or a graveyard" was still unwilling to become a docile instrument of the Soviet regime.
You'll learn how what he would not say publicly in words, he instead said through his music - messages from a buried life of his experiences during the terror of Stalin, the Nazi destruction of his country, postwar reconstruction, and the arms race.
In work after work, often composed under crushing difficulty and anxiety, you'll hear how he used a brilliant arsenal of ironic conceits, musical quotes from un-Soviet sources such as American jazz or Jewish klezmer tunes, and other techniques to assert the integrity of his art in the face of totalitarian oppression, and to pay, as he said, "homage to the dead."
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Living the Great Terror
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- Chris Reich