Dear Dmitri…

Terrific appreciation of Dmitri Shostakovich in the weekend FT (not this last weekend, of course, I’m a little behind on my reading) on the centenary of his birth:

The Fifth Symphony was a compromise that didn’t compromise. It was a squared circle. It was genius with a welcome mat. It made the Soviet state pigs feel they could wipe their trotters at the entrance and hand you their hats. Yet it was still a work of genius. Today the symphony is just as interpretable as a cry of grief and wrath over Soviet Russia as an endorsement of Stalin.

You carried on, avoiding the gulags, smuggling impertinences into your music (the Sixth Symphony) and writing string quartets as private therapy. Meanwhile friends and fellow artists were being dragged to Siberia, shoved in the Ljubjanka, or otherwise stiffed or silenced. You dreaded the knock on the door.

Read the proverbial whole thing.

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