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Stalin blasted as ‘barbarian’ by musician Dmitri Shostakovich

Stalin blasted as ‘barbarian’ by musician Dmitri Shostakovich

Posted November. 18, 2014 07:01,   


The world of high-speed Internet has brought about diverse conveniences and potentials. If you encounter music that you want to know more about while examining musical literature, you can immediately search and find out, even though you don’t have an album with you.

Several years ago, this reporter wanted to listen to a classical song, titled “Rebirth” that Dmitri Shostakovich composed on poem written by Aleksandr Pushkin, but could not find an album. When I searched the word "Rebirth" on the Internet on Monday, the melody of the song steamed instantly. I also searched its lyrics.

A barbarian, who calls himself an artist / holds up his lazy brush / painted over on a painting drawn by a genius / Over the passage of time, the over-painted part was taken off / The genius’ painting has reemerged.”

Why did I search this song? Joseph Stalin, the late dictator of the former Soviet Union, stood up and left in 1936 while watching Shostakovich’s opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District." Analysts say that the music that was created as a result of experimentalism, its decadent contents, and particularly the scene of a person being "poisoned to death" might have angered Stalin.

Then, the state daily Provda carried an editorial highly critical of the opera. The editorial suggested that “the opera is of bourgeois and complete chaos,” and that socialist artists should be wary of such self-indulgence. The composure’s fate was in jeopardy.

In 1937, Shostakovich released Symphony No. 5, whose Movement 4 sounds like a march of robust triumph. Chant of "encore" continued for 30 minutes in the concert hall, and state media also acclaimed the music. The composer escaped from the danger. In the same year, Shostakovich released the classical song "Rebirth" without widely publicizing it. Some portions of the accompaniment of the song were almost identical to the final movement of Symphony No. 5. Over-painting done by a barbarian over a painting drawn by a genius, and the work of the genius that has reemerged after passage of time…

The Bayern Broadcast Symphony Orchestra of Germany will perform Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 conducted by Mariss Jansons in the Concert Hall of the Seoul Arts Center on Wednesday. The same music will be performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra with conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev at the same venue on Sunday. I feel truly excited at and reminiscent of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, because I had a chance to see in person the orchestra engaging in exercise and recording for a week some 17 years ago. Concertgoers who wish to appreciate music at this concert are advised to recall not only the ostensibly glaring sound of Movement 4, but also Shostakovich’s strife in his mind that was hidden in it.