A Shostakovich Companion
by Michael Mishra
June 2008, 640pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-30503-0
$86, £64, 72€, A123

Provides a comprehensive discussion of Shostakovich’s compositional evolution from his early to his late styles, interwoven with a supporting biography of the composer. This single-author discussion is supplemented with a small collection of diverse analytical writings from outside contributors.

Adopting a two-books-in-one format. The Shostakovich Companion combines a full-length, single-author examination of the life and compositional evolution of the Soviet Union’s most famous composer; and a symposium in which a variety of analytical techniques is applied to selected Shostakovich works and genres. This is the first comprehensive English-language book in twenty-five years in which the primary emphasis is on musical issues, and the secondary emphasis is on the biographical and much-debated political issues.

The The Shostakovich Companion is divided into four parts. Part I considers the hermeneutic techniques that have been applied to Shostakovich’s music, along with the various controversies surrounding his life and his relationship to Soviet politics. Part II comprises the book’s central life-and-works discussion, uniting a comprehensive examination of Shostakovich’s compositional evolution with a full account of his life. Coming from a variety of authors, the chapters in Part III demonstrate a cross-section of analytical techniques that may usefully be brought to bear upon Shostakovich’s music. These range from literary and cinematically-based methods to the more traditional types of musical analysis. Part IV considers three independent but crucial aspects of Shostakovich’s life: his contributions to the Soviet film industry, his career as a pianist, and his legacy and influence as a teacher.

Reviews

"The book is noteworthy for its evenhandedness; it does not dramatize Shostakovich's problems with the bureaucracy but makes clear how those problems affected the composer's life and the creation of his music. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals."—Choice, August 1, 2009
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