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journey of a ten through talons


All the Good Stuff: Eminent Annotated Bi-blog-raphy

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,

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,

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,

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,

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., LOFT Productions, 2007,

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.


Practice Interview Recap – 3 Wise Nuggs

For my practice interview (a cross-course assignment between Planning and English/Eminent), I emailed Kevin Bazzana, a music critic and lecturer. Among others, here are the most powerful “wise nuggs” I took away from our conversation:

  1. The role of a critic (or journalist, or any other kind of profession that involves communication) is not to convey personal differences/problems with a performance, but to deliver reliable information and perspective.
  2. All the finished products of one’s work are not created without extreme torture, pain, and suffering, and therefore…
  3. Finding one’s true profession must come from their original and undying passion for that field.


Land of Mine

What to do? How can one respond when presented viscerally and emotionally with a story of such force? To a picture that strips us down one by one until only our raw emotions remain, and rips them apart a little more until we can’t see straight?

I don’t know. I felt insignificant, then scared, and ultimately bewildered. And I haven’t completely recovered from the wounds cut in me, as if my own land mine exploded and it only hit the small, vulnerable part in my heart, and nothing else. I sat, staring into space, unmoving. I wondered if I was just as bad as all the evil in the world, not spending every waking moment in my life devoted to charity, philanthropy, and goodness.

My words are nothing compared to the sufferings endured by any of the valiant young men, many as young as I am now when they were forced to scour around unoccupied beaches, their closest friends the live explosives they were forced to defuse.

Hate fuels hate, and this story, among scores of others are only the outcomes. When we see the products of conflict, in their dead, marred bodies, so far away from their original incarnations, it’s hard for us to realize what caused this. Some quick thinking leads us to realize that the original conflict in the world started the moment anything positive of note happened as well. Good and evil. Light and darkness. Life and death.

Above all, these boys just wanted life. They wanted to go back to their rambunctious, carousing, free-led ways, and perhaps to help others. Lay bricks. Eat their mother’s food. Die old. And they were denied of these rights, basic human liberties that should be granted to anyone.

I don’t know what is a good solution. Perhaps charity is just a Band-Aid, a large gauze that slows the bleeding. What actually stops wounds are clots, internal choices that eventually stop what’s going on outside. Band-Aids are necessary. But we need to evaluate who we are, our life choices, and whether we’re trying our hardest to make the best of our own endeavours, and others’.

It starts with watching movies that open the wounds first, ones that needs to be pried open.

Thank you, Land of Mine.


Speech Outline

(Shostakovich is abbreviated to “Shosti”)


  • @New York Peace Conference in 1949, listening to speeches


  • It’s his turn, but he knows he must give a prepared speech by the government
  • Does he rebel and say what he truly feels, or read the speech?

Rising action:

  • Narrates leading action: being denounced, family members dying, phone call with Stalin persuading him to leave the Soviet Union for the conference
  • Remembers that wife and children are still in USSR, cannot speak out or else they will be killed
  • However, he remembers everyone that died around him
    • Protests outside his hotel room stating “Shostakovich! Jump through the window!” (as means to defect)
  • It’s a chance to speak out on such a world stage and denounce the government


  • Realizes he must conform to wishes of government
  • By surviving, he’ll be the real winner

Falling action:

  • Realizes that people will hate him for it, and call him a coward
    • “Do you know hard it is to risk all you have? To give up all you have? To rebel? To play a game you know you can’t win?”


  • Begins reading speech given to him that glorifies Stalin

Possible endings:

  • “I survived. Is that not enough? Why do you want me to be your hero?”
  • “I still have so much music left to write.”
  • “They call me Communist. They call me a dissident. I am neither. I am Dmitri Shostakovich.” (motif plays in background)