Shostakovich & other Russian Composers
[Presenation slides (as pdf files) attached below.]
The 20th century was a tumultuous time for the arts, and an especially tumultuous time for music in Russia. There was a public demand (from Stalin) that composers write "for the people". Many symphonic works from Shostakovich and his peers were indeed written "for the people", but different voices could be heard in their chamber works. To set the stage, we'll examine the birth of Russian classical music in the second half of the 19th century. Our primary focus will be on the life, times and music of Shostakovich. We'll sample music from peers such as Weinberg, Prokofiev, Myaskovsky, and Stravinsky. We'll play musical excerpts (mostly from YouTube), examine the pressure applied to Soviet artists and discuss the impact that pressure had on musical creation. Shostakovich will be the central figure in the course, but we'll also dip into some of the lesser known music from that time and place.