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Just finished this brilliant biography of Shostakovich. It covers all aspects of his life, threaded through with analysis and significance of his compositions. This is achieved in just 177 pages and there are some photos of the composer and others too. I have read other books on the composer but this is easily the best for beginners to knowledgeable readers of Shostakovich. Highly recommended
I really love the music of Shostakovich, far more than any other composer and I don't know why. I had just read Julian Barnes' fictional biography and wanted to read a factual one. What Pauline Fairclough's book showed me was that Barnes had done a Mantell. In other words, based his fiction as nearly as possible on fact and delved into the subject's inner world to add an extra imagined dimension to the known record. Fairclough's book is in the Critical Lives series and is short, less than 250 pages. I found it very readable, despite the proliferation of musical terms that I am totally ignorant of. She addresses Shostakovich's ambivalent and fluctuating relationship with the Soviet regime briefly at the end. Her message seems to be, come on, give the guy a break. He was neither a saint nor a sinner but a composer of some of the most amazing music, imagined and realised. Sounds about right to me.
If you want to find out anything useful about Shostakovich's life and works this is not the book to read. Fay's 'Shostakovich: a Life" is a bit dry, but much better informed, and much more fully elaborated. You won't get anything new in this book. This is the sort of book a knowledgeable author could toss out over a week-end, and it has that sense about it.
Bought as a gift for 94 year old who plays perfect Shostakovich on his house Piano for their Birthday Didn’t know anything about the composer so I bought this to share and talk about Very interesting book on social history as well as a great man and his struggles being accepted in musical elite. Great read 10/10
A good start to learning about Shostakovitch and his music by an eminent musicologist. It's perhaps a little dull and , a minor point, the binding of the paperback is very stiff and the paper surface light reflective which makes for a less than comfortable read