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More Than Music with PostClassical - Shostakovich and the State

“Shostakovich and the State” presents commentary by Solomon Volkov, author of Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich(1979). The musical focus is Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 (1960): a unique autobiographical document, capturing a moment both personally and historically fraught. Watch here.


The Eighth Quartet is also well-known in a string-orchestra version created by Rudolf Barshai. This PostClassical Ensemble video features a terrific concert performance led by Angel Gil-Ordóñez (at 6:10), prefaced and followed by Volkov’s remarks. As a young man, Volkov wrote the first review of the Eighth Quartet – it became his ticket of introduction to the famous composer. He tells this story, and also talks (at 2:55) about Stalin as culture-tsar (“People underestimate the level of control that Stalin maintained personally over people in the arts”).