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Shostakovich's troubles with Stalin are well-known, especially the "Muddle Instead of Music" article.

Yet, for some reason we hear much less about Prokofiev's and Khachaturian's experiences during this time. All three were denounced during the preposterous Central Committee meeting in 1948. Other than that, what should be known about Prokofiev and Khachaturian under Stalin?
 

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We don't hear much about Prokofiev because he moved to Paris and returned to USSR 1936. He changed his style to suit the censors then later wrote the famous "war sonatas" (Nos. 6-8) and later symphonies during the war.

His Symphony No. 6 came after the war and was considered his remarks on both the tragedy of the war and the optimism of life afterward.

The most remarkable thing about Prokofiev is he died same year as Stalin -- 1953.

Shostakovich said the war years were years of freedom for artists since Stalin had killed off anyone that knew anything and everyone else was defending the nation after 1940. His "Leningrad" symphony he later said was about the evils of Stalin was hailed as a patriotic piece against the Nazis.

Khachaturian was compliant and, being Armenian, was not considered the force Prokofiev and Shostakovich represented. He was censored 1948 for no reason; many others were as well.
 

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When he first got his card marked Prokofiev tried hard to appease the authorities - sometimes it worked (Alexander Nevsky, Peter and the Wolf), sometimes it didn't (the operas Semyon Kotko and The Story of a Real Man).

I honestly don't think Stalin etc. really forgave Prokofiev for leaving Russia in the first place, so maybe they used the carrot and stick on him more than most in order to bring him down a peg or two, especially as he brought a swanky air of cosmopolitanism (both in his manner and dress) back from the West which probably got up their dour little noses. I have little doubt that had Stravinsky returned to Russia he would have been treated in similar fashion. Unlike Shostakovich, Prokofiev never learned how to properly play the game and in the end it shattered his health. As for poor old Khachaturian, he must have wondered what the hell was happening to him in 1948 - both his character and his music were about as uncontroversial as they could get.
 
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We don't hear much about Prokofiev because he moved to Paris and returned to USSR 1936. He changed his style to suit the censors then later wrote the famous "war sonatas" (Nos. 6-8) and later symphonies during the war.

His Symphony No. 6 came after the war and was considered his remarks on both the tragedy of the war and the optimism of life afterward.

The most remarkable thing about Prokofiev is he died same year as Stalin -- 1953.

Shostakovich said the war years were years of freedom for artists since Stalin had killed off anyone that knew anything and everyone else was defending the nation after 1940. His "Leningrad" symphony he later said was about the evils of Stalin was hailed as a patriotic piece against the Nazis.

Khachaturian was compliant and, being Armenian, was not considered the force Prokofiev and Shostakovich represented. He was censored 1948 for no reason; many others were as well.
Actually, Prokofiev died on the same day as Stalin.

What is the source for the quote on Symphony no. 7? Not Testimony, I hope, because that book is fraudulent and unreliable.
 
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Prokofiev's Spanish wife (his first wife) went to a prison camp in Siberia sometime after Prokofiev was trading her in for a younger model. I don't know the details but maybe that's why Shostakovich is reported to have said that Prokofiev had the "Soul of a goose." Sooner or later Stalin had to crack down on everybody no matter how innocuous their music just because he was Stalin and had to show that he was in charge. In any case, as much as some of Shostakovich shows the influence of Prokofiev, they were very different composers. As much as Shostakovich adopted some of Prokofiev and Stravinky's "modern" sound, Shostakovich was still full of sad Russian soul like Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff. Shostakovich's feelings are never far from his music, whether those feelings be sadness, sarcasm, ironic humor, or anger. Those who love Shostakovich, love him for it, and others dislike Shostakovich for the same reason. Perhaps those who don't like Shostakovich are along the lines of some others who don't like Mahler. They find Shostakovich to be be too emotional, too neurotic, too long-winded, and too morbid. So with Shostakovich, you get in his musical vision the crushing of the spirit by the hammer of totalitarianism. Prokofiev, on the other hand, is all about the music. With Prokofiev, it's about the craft, about making the waltz in Cinderella sound dream-like; like making the Classical Symphony sound modern but also completely in line with Haydn; and about making the Violin Concerto #1 sound athletic and dazzling. His friend and fellow Russian emigre, Vernon Duke, who befriended Prokofiev in America, said that Prokofiev pretty much sold his soul to the devil by returning to the USSR, but if it bothered Prokofiev at all he didn't allow himself to show it very much in his music like Shostakovich did. As for Khachaturian, he's the little brother to Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Proko and Shosty are the twin towers of Soviet-era Russian music, and Khachaturian stands beneath them. Even so Khachaturian is first among the second tier as he stands out among the likes of Myaskovsky, Kabalevsky, and the other Soviet composers whose works are by-and-large unmemorable. Khachaturian's wonderful Armenian-flavored Violin Concerto is interesting enough that James Galway transcribed it for flute, so if Galway is going to go through all the trouble of transcribing it, it's got to be pretty good.
 

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Shostakovich is reported to have said that Prokofiev had the "Soul of a goose."

Even so Khachaturian is first among the second tier as he stands out among the likes of Myaskovsky, Kabalevsky, and the other Soviet composers whose works are by-and-large unmemorable. Khachaturian's wonderful Armenian-flavored Violin Concerto is interesting enough that James Galway transcribed it for flute, so if Galway is going to go through all the trouble of transcribing it, it's got to be pretty good.
Where and to whom did Shostakovich say this? Who reported it? I'm not disputing that Prokofiev had the soul of a goose, mind you. ;)

Myaskovsky is a more important composer than Khachaturian. Not even close.
 
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Where and to whom did Shostakovich say this? Who reported it? I'm not disputing that Prokofiev had the soul of a goose, mind you. ;)

Myaskovsky is a more important composer than Khachaturian. Not even close.
Harold Schonberg said it Lives of the Great Composers in the chapter Under he Soviets. Myaskovsky may well be the better composer than Khachaturian, but Khachaturian has enjoyed more popularity. K's Violin Concerto was recorded by David Oistrakh, Leonid Logan, and Itzhak Perlman. Both Jean-Pierre Rampal and James Galway recording their own transcriptions for flute of the Violin Concerto. Leopold Stokowski recorded K's loud and brash Symphony #3. Excerpts from Spartacus and the Gayne Suite remain popular with the Sabre Dance appearing often at pops cartoons, in cartoons, and even acrobatic routines. I don't that Myaskovsky has inspired as much. It all depends on what you like, but Khachaturian is quite popular. Khachaturian is not Beethoven but he's good.
 

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Khachaturian's wonderful Armenian-flavored Violin Concerto is interesting enough that James Galway transcribed it for flute, so if Galway is going to go through all the trouble of transcribing it, it's got to be pretty good.
Are you sure it was Galway? thought French player Jean Pierre Rampal did that transcription at the behest of Khachaturian. Whoever did it, it works brilliantly and it's too bad no one seems to play it anymore.
 

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The Soviet system put a high value on arts and culture. Life for artists, including composers, had both advantages and disadvantages. Some have compared it to living in a gilded cage. You had benefits such as modern accomodation, your own transport, even the opportunity for foreign travel. The big downside was that everything you created had to be vetted by the state (if it was to have a chance to be given a public airing, hence the widespread practice of writing for the drawer). You had to be particularly careful in following orders, and perhaps more than the average citizen, avoid criticism of the party.

I agree with what others have said. The Zhdanov decree of 1948 was more or less a symbolic gesture by the party seeking to assert control after the war. I think that there where nine composers in total, accused of bourgeois formalism and antipopular trends. Khatchaturian's teacher Myaskovsky was among them.

I do remember reading that the authorities said that Khatchaturian's music was too cosmopolitan, and it is true that he had been influenced by French music in particular. Whatever the reason, labels such as formalist and antipopular where so arbitrary as to be meaningless. What they really meant was music the authorities don't like, and this was full of contradictions because on paper, there was no censorship in the Soviet Union. Realpolitik was different, and artists lived in a constant state of having to work out unwritten rules.

Overall, Stalin wasn't personally involved in the arts. It was more Zhdanov and Krennikhov. Again things where vague, because bodies like the Soviet Composer's Union where still places where music could be performed and discussed. Apart from political oversight, it was like what is called an association in the West. Many of these composers had been highly praised previously, a number of them had won the Stalin Prize (equivalent of a Pulitzer).

Prokofiev was unfortunate not to have lived long enough to see the end of Stalin. The succeeding Khrushchev regime did much to liberalise the arts, including music. Music that was in the drawer came right out (e.g. Shostakovich's Violin Concerto #1). Even music that raised questions about the regime, at least in a veiled sense, was given the go ahead (e.g. Babi Yar). Solzhenitsyn's books where published, and abstract art was encouraged. Poland, one of the satellite states, became a centre of experimental composition (e.g. Lutoslawski and Penderecki).

I guess what remained was the gilded cage syndrome, and although the stakes weren't as high as under Stalin, it was still a no-no to criticize the regime (although, since he was dead, it was easier to get away with criticizing Stalin personally).
 

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Yes, Rampal did a transcription [of Khachaturian's Violin Concerto], with permission from the composer. Galway used Rampal's version.
https://dima-slobodeniouk.com/recordings/khachaturian-rautavaara-flute-concertos/
https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/james-galway-plays-khachaturian
According the the Grammophone review you linked up, it would appear that Galway used the Rampal transcription but refined parts of it, so that the wonderful Galway recording that was made with Myung-Wha Chung and the Royal Philharmonic is the work of Khachaturian, Rampal and Galway. I've never heard the Rampal recording of K's Violin Concerto transcribed for Flute but I imagine that Galway's refinements kept the score as faithful to K as it is to Rampal, since Rampal was Galway's role model flutist.
 

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The Soviet system put a high value on arts and culture. Life for artists, including composers, had both advantages and disadvantages. Some have compared it to living in a gilded cage. You had benefits such as modern accomodation, your own transport, even the opportunity for foreign travel. The big downside was that everything you created had to be vetted by the state (if it was to have a chance to be given a public airing, hence the widespread practice of writing for the drawer). You had to be particularly careful in following orders, and perhaps more than the average citizen, avoid criticism of the party.

I agree with what others have said. The Zhdanov decree of 1948 was more or less a symbolic gesture by the party seeking to assert control after the war. I think that there where nine composers in total, accused of bourgeois formalism and antipopular trends. Khatchaturian's teacher Myaskovsky was among them.

I do remember reading that the authorities said that Khatchaturian's music was too cosmopolitan, and it is true that he had been influenced by French music in particular. Whatever the reason, labels such as formalist and antipopular where so arbitrary as to be meaningless. What they really meant was music the authorities don't like, and this was full of contradictions because on paper, there was no censorship in the Soviet Union. Realpolitik was different, and artists lived in a constant state of having to work out unwritten rules.

Overall, Stalin wasn't personally involved in the arts. It was more Zhdanov and Krennikhov. Again things where vague, because bodies like the Soviet Composer's Union where still places where music could be performed and discussed. Apart from political oversight, it was like what is called an association in the West. Many of these composers had been highly praised previously, a number of them had won the Stalin Prize (equivalent of a Pulitzer).

Prokofiev was unfortunate not to have lived long enough to see the end of Stalin. The succeeding Khrushchev regime did much to liberalise the arts, including music. Music that was in the drawer came right out (e.g. Shostakovich's Violin Concerto #1). Even music that raised questions about the regime, at least in a veiled sense, was given the go ahead (e.g. Babi Yar). Solzhenitsyn's books where published, and abstract art was encouraged. Poland, one of the satellite states, became a centre of experimental composition (e.g. Lutoslawski and Penderecki).

I guess what remained was the gilded cage syndrome, and although the stakes weren't as high as under Stalin, it was still a no-no to criticize the regime (although, since he was dead, it was easier to get away with criticizing Stalin personally).
I think "gilded cage" is a good way to describe it and for all of the pressure that the likes of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Kabalevsky, and Myaskovsky may have suffered, they seemed to have it much better than the average Soviet citizen; just as Richard Strauss probably had it much better than anyone living in Nazi Germany. In Lives of the Great Composers, Harold Schonberg goes so far as to say that Strauss said and did things that would have placed anyone else in a concentration camp. I'm also pretty sure that Wilhelm Furtqwangler also pushed far beyond what the average person was able to do while he was living under the Nazi regime.

Back to the USSR under Stalin, it seems that the leading composers and their families did OK, except for Prokofiev's long-suffering Spanish wife, Lina, who was sent to the gulag while Prokofiev was enjoying life with his younger model; and I'm still not sure as to just what poor Lina did that was so bad that it warranted incarceration. That being said, just the fear of being exported to a gulag in Siberia just for looking at someone the wrong way, was probably enough to give Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Kabalevsky, and Myaskovsky, chronic anxiety, nausea and diarrhea; despite whatever perks that their musical ability afforded them.

I also like what you said about labels such as "formalist" being "arbitrary", "vague" as being "meaningless". In this sense, I think totalitarianism is like being in an abusive relationship where the abuser uses gas-lighting and other forms of intimidation; and has to get to you one way or another just to show you that they are in charge. So it's then: damned if you do and damned if you don't. Sooner or later everyone had to be accused of something just they could be kept in a state of constant fear and under control.
 

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What is the source for the quote on Symphony no. 7? Not Testimony, I hope, because that book is fraudulent and unreliable.

It was also in both Shostakovich Reconsidered, with forward by Vladimir Ashkenazy, and The New Shostakovich by Ian MacDonald. It was published in American Record Guide's overview of Shostakovich symphonies November-December 2009 as well.

There was also discussion of same in the video Shostakovich Against Stalin: The War Symphonies with Valery Gergiev among others giving commentary. One of Shostakovich's friends that appeared there confirmed the remark Shostakovich made that his symphonies were tombstones and said his Eighth Symphony was about totalitarianism.

It's been published in just about everything anyone that knew Shostakovich has written since 1975 when the cat was let out of the bag by Volkov's book. This was still the era of the USSR and its culture of secrecy, of course.

The people that write Testimony off as untrue are -- like the guy I read in the New York Times a few years ago -- generally from academia, never interviewed anyone that knew Shostakovich, and generally speaking are using second hard sources for their documentation.

Testimony has its doubters but none of Shostakovich's friends or children are or were among them. His wife's misgiving was she didn't believe Volkov spent enough time with him to get everything in the book.

Whether true or not it is broadly accepted the Shostakovich portrayed in the book is the real man. Even that dope I read in New York Times said so.

Everyone that knew him saw him in the book. One of those was Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya who said the finale of the Fifth Symphony, far from being a salute to victory, was Shostakovich's portrayal of the sons and daughters of Russia being torn from the soil.

So pardon me if I believe the people that knew Shostakovich instead of those that did not.
 

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What is the source for the quote on Symphony no. 7? Not Testimony, I hope, because that book is fraudulent and unreliable.

It was also in both Shostakovich Reconsidered, with forward by Vladimir Ashkenazy, and The New Shostakovich by Ian MacDonald. It was published in American Record Guide's overview of Shostakovich symphonies November-December 2009 as well.

There was also discussion of same in the video Shostakovich Against Stalin: The War Symphonies with Valery Gergiev among others giving commentary. One of Shostakovich's friends that appeared there confirmed the remark Shostakovich made that his symphonies were tombstones and said his Eighth Symphony was about totalitarianism.

It's been published in just about everything anyone that knew Shostakovich has written since 1975 when the cat was let out of the bag by Volkov's book. This was still the era of the USSR and its culture of secrecy, of course.

The people that write Testimony off as untrue are -- like the guy I read in the New York Times a few years ago -- generally from academia, never interviewed anyone that knew Shostakovich, and generally speaking are using second hard sources for their documentation.

Testimony has its doubters but none of Shostakovich's friends or children are or were among them. His wife's misgiving was she didn't believe Volkov spent enough time with him to get everything in the book.

Whether true or not it is broadly accepted the Shostakovich portrayed in the book is the real man. Even that dope I read in New York Times said so.

Everyone that knew him saw him in the book. One of those was Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya who said the finale of the Fifth Symphony, far from being a salute to victory, was Shostakovich's portrayal of the sons and daughters of Russia being torn from the soil.

So pardon me if I believe the people that knew Shostakovich instead of those that did not.
So the source is Testimony then. I didn't say Testimony is untrue, whatever that means. I said it's a fraud and that it's unreliable. By fraud, I mean it has been proved not to be what Volkov claimed, that is, it's not a scrupulous transcription of the composer's words during interviews with Volkov. This means that no statement in Testimony that's not corroborated in other sources can be assumed to be the words of Shostakovich.

For the umpteenth time:

Laurel Fay challenged the authenticity of Testimony within a year of its publication and her evidence has never been convincingly countered. (See "Shostakovich versus Volkov: Whose Testimony?" In Russian Review 39, no. 4 (1980), 484-92, and an update of this essay published in Malcolm Brown's A Shostakovich Case Book.) Anyone who has not read and come to terms with Fay's evidence has no business holding an opinion on the authenticity of Testimony. To summarize her case:

The main evidence for the authenticity of Testimony is that, in a typescript of the book, Shostakovich's signature (initials) appears on the first page of seven of its chapters, allegedly indicating that the composer read and vouched for the text's accuracy. But Fay demonstrated that those seven initial pages (and only those seven pages!) were cribbed from the opening paragraphs of articles previously published under Shostakovich's name. Volkov is thus asking us to believe that Shostakovich began each of their sessions together by regurgitating nearly word for word and from memory, three hundred words of a previously published article, some of which are suspected of having been ghost written by party hacks and not by the composer! This is absurd and if anyone has a good explanation for it other than fraud I've yet to hear it.

Fay hypothesized about how the fraud was perpetrated: What Volkov apparently did was go to Shostakovich with a typescript of a book, the contents of which consisted entirely of articles previously published under Shostakovich's name and thus already vetted for political correctness. Volkov made only minor changes to correct dated references that would sound strange when reprinted decades after they were written. He got Shostakovich to initial the first pages of these articles. Given that Volkov was then the editor of a major music journal, it would have made perfect sense to the composer that he might be collecting a series of articles by Shostakovich to be published under one cover. Then Volkov took those pages with the composer's initials and used them as the first pages of each of Testimony's chapters, discarding the rest of each article and substituting his own material and collected third hand gossip for the pages he had shown Shostakovich. This is more obvious when one sees the discontinuity between the first page of each chapter and what follows. Fay points out how ludicrous it is to think that Shostakovich, when interviewed by Volkov, would have reproduced those seven first pages-and only those pages!-nearly verbatim, before digressing into new material on every second page. Volkov claimed to have in his possession his original short-hand transcription of his interviews with Shostakovich. When challenged by Fay and others to produce it, however, he couldn't or wouldn't. Testimony is a fraud. Anyone reading Fay objectively will see it.

Does Testimony express opinions Shostakovich held? Probably. As you've seen, people who knew him have claimed that it does. But where Volkov got them is anyone's guess (except that Lev Lebidinsky seems to have been the source of a good bit.) Once again: Nothing in Testimony that is not substantiated in other sources can be assumed to be the words of Shostakovich.
 

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I think "gilded cage" is a good way to describe it and for all of the pressure that the likes of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Kabalevsky, and Myaskovsky may have suffered, they seemed to have it much better than the average Soviet citizen; just as Richard Strauss probably had it much better than anyone living in Nazi Germany. In Lives of the Great Composers, Harold Schonberg goes so far as to say that Strauss said and did things that would have placed anyone else in a concentration camp. I'm also pretty sure that Wilhelm Furtqwangler also pushed far beyond what the average person was able to do while he was living under the Nazi regime.

Back to the USSR under Stalin, it seems that the leading composers and their families did OK, except for Prokofiev's long-suffering Spanish wife, Lina, who was sent to the gulag while Prokofiev was enjoying life with his younger model; and I'm still not sure as to just what poor Lina did that was so bad that it warranted incarceration. That being said, just the fear of being exported to a gulag in Siberia just for looking at someone the wrong way, was probably enough to give Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Kabalevsky, and Myaskovsky, chronic anxiety, nausea and diarrhea; despite whatever perks that their musical ability afforded them.
Perhaps, in terms of getting special treatment, its not too much different to what celebrities experience today. They have privileges but also, for the reason that they're constantly in the public spotlight, special responsibilities.

I would be loathe to comment on Prokofiev, since I haven't read beyond basic reference materials, but Lina's wiki page suggests the whole situation was quite complicated:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Prokofiev

Returning home at the height of the purges would have been a difficult decision to make for Prokofiev. Perhaps he felt homesick like Rachmaninov, and whatever the material benefits, didn't want to continue living as a permanent exile abroad.

In terms of Strauss, I'm on more solid ground since I read the Kennedy biography. Despite being able to save his Jewish daughter in law, Strauss couldn't prevent the murder of around two dozen of her relatives. I included some detail in my review:

https://www.talkclassical.com/2934-richard-strauss-8.html#post1509794

Compromise is part of life. It might not be easy for us, but we can only imagine living under Stalin or Hitler. Undoubtedly, in those situations compromise carries much more weight.

I also like what you said about labels such as "formalist" being "arbitrary", "vague" as being "meaningless". In this sense, I think totalitarianism is like being in an abusive relationship where the abuser uses gas-lighting and other forms of intimidation; and has to get to you one way or another just to show you that they are in charge. So it's then: damned if you do and damned if you don't. Sooner or later everyone had to be accused of something just they could be kept in a state of constant fear and under control.
I think gaslighting is a good analogy. Treading on eggshells might be another one. Its worst aspects where over after Stalin, but the contradictory situation remained. As Khrushchev liberalised many areas of Soviet life, including the arts, the limits of what could be done expanded but so did debate about the boundaries. So, when you get rid of the old limits which where vauge, how do you work out the new ones?

The most controversial piece of music to come out post-Stalin was probably Shostakovich's Babi Yar symphony, and the gestation of that was complicated to say the least. It could have ended up as another drawer piece. After the premiere it was more or less shelved for the rest of the Soviet era.

As an aside, I guess that a good deal of the music given prominence during the Stalin era is now only of historical interest. What of Dzherzhinsky's opera And Quiet Flows the Don? I know Khrennikov had a cello concerto recorded by Rostropovich, but what of his music otherwise? I seem to remember reading on TC forum that some of his music is still played in Russia.
 

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Does Testimony express opinions Shostakovich held? Probably. As you've seen, people who knew him have claimed that it does.

As have authors who have, like Fay, taken potshots at the book the past 45 years. And the people that knew Shostakovich have continued to support claims made in the book as representing the man himself. And the authors of most of the papers have agreed Testimony accurately portrayed Shostakovich the man.

Yet many cling to Laurel Fay's 8-page paper as evidence it is all a fraud.

Rather reminds me of the fraud claims made about the election of a chief political executive in a major Western nation last November. There were 62 court cases afterward claiming the fraud, often with more than an 8-page paper supporting them, yet all 62 ended in dismissal of charges.

Still millions in that nation believe the election was a fraud. Some people simply have to think it so.

Of course no one that knew Shostakovich thinks so about Testimony.

"This book settles the issue once and for all. I am sure that no one in his sane mind, having read the evidence presented by the authors, will ever ask the question of whether Testimony is authentic Shostakovich or not. The answer is that it most definitely is," Vladimir Ashkenazy said upon publication of Shostakovich Reconsidered.

The book is full of information debunking Fay's arguments. Read it yourself if you don't believe me.
 

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I haven't read Testimony but I have browsed his letters to Isaak Glikman, which where published in 2001. I contributed an extract to another thread, and here is the initial quote plus my response to questions on the thread. My use of the word "force" needed clarification.

"I've written this ideologically flawed quartet which nobody will be interested in. I had been musing that if I die some day, I didn't think anyone would write a work dedicated to my memory, so I decided to write one myself...When I got home I twice tried to play it through, and again shed tears, not only because of its tragic essence but also because I was surprised by the beautiful integrity of its form. This was perhaps influenced by a certain element of self-admiration which will probably soon pass to be replaced by the usual hangover of self-criticism."

- Shostakovich in a letter dated July 1960, reflecting on his Eighth Quartet. It was originally dedicated to himself, portraying his depressed state after being forced to join the Communist party, but the official dedication was to victims of fascism. Ironically, the false dedication remains today (even in recently published recordings). His son Maxim said Shostakovich cried in front of him only twice - at this time and when his first wife died.
He was asked to chair a meeting, but to do that he had to become a party member. Shostakovich feigned illness and called in sick but they simply rescheduled the meeting.

Both of his children have made recollections of the day referred to in the above letter. They had never seen him so distraught, apart from when their mother (his first wife) died. Not even in times when he life was directly under threat during the purges or bombing raids in the war.
In this case, force doesn't mean violent coercion. For high profile people like Shostakovich, it was more like a strong nudge. In the Soviet system, things could be decided for you whether you agreed or not. Others have made comparisons to living in a prison which is nice, but it's still a prison.
 
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