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Shostakovich: A Life Remembered

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Shostakovich: A Life Remembered is a unique study of the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich, based on reminiscences from his contemporaries. Elizabeth Wilson covers the composer's life from his early successes to his struggles under the Stalinist regime, and his international recognition as one of the leading composers of the twentieth century. She builds up a detailed ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 631 pages
Published September 3rd 2006 by Princeton University Press (first published August 14th 1994)
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May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dmitri Shostakovich is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century, and the arc of his life has a lot to teach us in the present and future. In the decades since his death, his memory has passed through three curious incarnations. First he was labeled a Soviet hack, a poisonous accusation straight out of cold war animosities. Then, as the Soviet Union disintegrated and the cold war came to a close, he was repackaged as a dissident martyr oppressed by a tyrannical regime, befitting ...more
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
A wonderful compilation of testimonies by just about every contemporary of Shostakovich imaginable. Loved it.

Just a personal side note:
I have been immersed in Shostakovich's for almost two months now. Even after reading several books on the man and his music, I am still at a bit of a loss as to why I find his music so compelling. I have always been drawn to the beautiful melodies of the Romantic composers. Melodies were definitely not Shostakovich's forte and I don't think that bothered him a
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, favourites
If you like Shostakovich, then this book is essential. It consists pretty much entirely of memories and account by people who knew Shostakovich, which makes it reliable and a great read. Elizabeth Wilson is more editor than writer, as her words are usually only there to situate a quote in a certain situation/time period, but I think this is a very positive thing (not because she's a bad writer, but because it helps with the general feel of the book). I know have an idea of what Shostakovich was ...more
Neal Hines
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated by this book, being an inside glimpse into the life of DDS. There are some personal stories that are memorable. Many good interviews, pictures, and stories.
The 8th Symphony ... "if you only knew how much blood that C-major cost me."

Poem "Music" by Anna A.
Brad Eastman
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The life of Dimitri Shostakovich is the story of the Soviet Union. Shostakovich's parents were part of the intelligentsia at the end of the Tsarist era and spent part of Shostakovich's early years in internal exile. Shostakovich was a teenager for the revolution and civil war years. He was besieged in Leningrad by the Nazis. Persecuted by Stalinism and allowed a small degree of freedom in the thaw after Khruschev took power. And then, later in life he was both revered by younger artists and ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is for sure the best biography of a composer that I have ever read. The author uses interviews, articles and reports with people that knew Shostakovich providing you with an incredibly vivid picture of him. His life, his personality, his compositions, the controversy around his ideological stand but also his time in general gets to life through these reports. This book is an incredible collection of sources and knowledge about Shostakovich, taking you so close to him that at the end it ...more
Darcy Lewis
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A monumental achievement, rather numbing in its details but powerful overall.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first the sheer volume made me put the book down. However, later I picked it again and liked it more and more. It's large, so you might find that intimidating.

It consists of testimonies from various people involved in composer's life. What is fascinating is that it presents him and these people in flesh and bones, within a panoply of human states such as emotions, jealousies, mediocrity, cowardice or bravery, joy or fear. In the process it humanizes Shostakovich, who appears as very kind with
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is constructed in such a unique style through its incredible wealth of anecdotes, personal recollections within a chronological framework of his life and works. Shostakovich was such a famously enigmatic composer yet i find whenever i dip into this book i come away with a more personal sense of the man with all his complexities; his friendships,loyalties, strengths, and inner torments. Its a really invaluable reference.
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it
A somewhat distant account of the composer's life and work, constantly interrupted with (well deserved!) indictments of the USSR's despicable policies toward arts and letters. In so depressing a milieu Shostakovich's music inevitably conveys sombre and bitter tones, yet occasionally sparkles with brilliant jollity and wit. Ms. Wilson's account does much to explain these seeming anomalies.
Elizabeth Hopkins
An incredibly insightful compilation of reminiscences that tells the story of Dmitri Shostakovich's life, this book is an enlightening nonfiction page-turner.
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There is more than one author with this name in the database. This is the disambiguation profile for authors named Elizabeth Wilson.