Due to Dmitri Shostakovich having such a complicated legacy, it’s understandably difficult to compile a list of even ten trustworthy sources about the composer. There is no established general information website about Shostakovich, like there were about my Eminent Person last year. Nor are there any government archives of any of his artifacts. Here, below, are some books, websites, and videos that I found most useful to my studies:
Fay, Laurel E. Shostakovich: A Life. Oxford University Press, 2005.
Definitely the best source I used for my project. This book is absolutely unparalleled in its amount of factual information about Shostakovich. The author traveled to Russia several times in order to study official papers, letters, and other documents to confirm their validity, stating that she cross-referenced all her sources.
Ross, Alex. The Rest Is Noise. Clipper, 2009.
This book is an entire history about 20th century music, with a chapter about Shostakovich. Published fairly recently, it details a powerful look into Shostakovich’s personal responses to his run-ins with the Soviet government, and also his complex relationship with Joseph Stalin.
Taruskin, Richard. On Russian Music. University of California Press, 2010.
Again, this book only contains a few essays about Shostakovich, but they are invaluable. Taruskin is able to discredit Testimony, a fraud purporting to be Shostakovich’s memoir, while painting a realistic picture of who he thought Shostakovich was during the Stalinist regime.
Taruskin, Richard. Defining Russia Musically: Historical and Hermeneutical Essays. Princeton Univ. Press, 2001.
Similar to the other book written by Taruskin, he focuses particularly on two compositions by Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, and the 5th Symphony. Both essays are able to expose myths surrounding the two works, and extensively quote artists who lived in the regime to try and unearth Shostakovich’s intentions behind these masterworks.
Wilson, Elizabeth. Shostakovich: a Life Remembered. Faber, 2006.
Along with Shostakovich: A Life by Laurel E. Fay, these two books provide a wonderful portrait of Shostakovich’s musical output, and his internal struggles that still captivate audiences today. Wilson does not write much, instead quoting long paragraphs from interviews she conducted. Although this makes for difficult reading, it does provide a mosaic of opinions from those who knew Shostakovich best.
Fay, Laurel E. “Shostakovich Versus Volkov: Whose Testimony?” Russian Review, vol. 39, no. 4, 1980, p. 484., doi:10.2307/128813.
Fay’s first article surrounding Testimony and its fraudulence. She articulates well, in a short and concise article, what is wrong with the book and how it isn’t actually authentic. This article provided the groundwork for most of the great literature surrounding Testimony for the next twenty years.
“Dmitri Shostakovich.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Nov. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitri_Shostakovich.
Very good general article about Shostakovich. It contained accurate facts, lists of his works, and information surrounding his legacy. Also, it provided a gateway to several useful sources and links about Shostakovich. There were photos and recordings I found interesting as well.
Taruskin, Richard, and David Brown. “Dmitry Shostakovich.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 Mar. 2017, www.britannica.com/biography/Dmitry-Shostakovich.
Written by two credible authors, both of which can be considered Shostakovich experts, this article is a very brief biography of Shostakovich’s life. It highlights the most important events in his career, and is essentially a timeline of dates.
Ross, Alex. “Unauthorized.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/09/06/unauthorized.
An article that helped me in firmly believing that Testimony was not legitimate. I could connect well with Ross in this article; our original thoughts about the book compared to the overwhelming evidence suggesting that it was fake were practically the same.
Fanning, David. “The Shostakovich Question.” David Fanning, Gramophone, 24 Sept. 2015, www.gramophone.co.uk/feature/the-shostakovich-question.
Fanning answers several common questions about Shostakovich (an FAQ, if you will) in engaging and humorous fashion. Multiple of these queries were ones that I had myself at the beginning of this project. Fanning also writes about the popularity of Shostakovich’s music after his death.
Becker, Oliver, director. Into the Cold Dawn. Medici.tv, LOFT Productions, 2007, www.medici.tv/en/documentaries/into-the-cold-dawn-portrait-of-dmitri-shostakovich-oliver-becker/.
This documentary (supposedly a film) features insightful interviews with several musicians that knew Shostakovich, as well as his two children! It also featured rare footage of Shostakovich and the films he composed music for, and was an engaging watch.