Dmitri Shostakovich: A Musical Creative Genius

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Dmitri Shostakovich: Creative Musical Genius

"In Shostakovich we have the paradigm of a new, essentially political form of complex inward adjustments, one which requires a new kind of symphony." (Norris 177) Although a lifelong communist and an intense Russian patriot (he applied for and was granted membership into the Communist party in 1960), Dmitri Shostakovich composed under constant fear of public condemnation, often for what he perceived as the most contradictory reasons. He strongly believed in a profound bond between the composer and his society which enabled him to work, survive, and develop, but also which fostered an air of confusion when he felt he was wrongly criticized. In 1968, he was quoted as saying, "Soviet music is a weapon in the ideological battle. Artists cannot stand as indifferent observers in this struggle." (Blokker 133) He believed that composers could not retreat into private, creative worlds; rather, they must deal with the socio-political problems of the day, however bitter the experience. He felt that 'good' music lifts and heartens the people for work; it might be tragic, but it must be strong. This quotation reinforces his interdependence with the Soviet state. He realized that his works were entirely public, and as such, should be written with not only the audience in mind, but also with the thoughts of how a strict government might react.

As a youth, Shostakovich believed that he was to be the successor to Beethoven's throne as the compositional genuis. It is safe to assume that no composer until Shostakovich had been so central to the history of his time, or had so consistently sought to symphonically express the sufferings and aspirations of his contemporaries as had Beethoven. Dmitri S...

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...Bargain, though; he never had to voluntarily give up anything that was physically-related in order to compose his music. In fact, the opposite was true: he gave up fighting in the WWII army to compose the Leningrad Symphony.

His marginality results from the way that he is viewed by Westerners. The fact that he composed in a Communist society places him in very small company. Even within the Soviet state, he was still on the fringe. All individuals that were categorized as artists, etc. were viewed as being a different type of Soviet citizen. Ultimately, though, the creative genius of Shostakovich is quite directly related to his native land. The political environment that he experienced, and then reacted to and against, had a very profound effect on his life. In all actuality, his creative genius may not have emerged if it had not been for this strong influence.
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