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I think it is at least interesting to have such comments because Shostakovich has been all but sainted in the last 25 years. I don't remember any negative press on him when I started listening to classical in the late 1980s but for a relative his music clearly was rather niche. I guess he was not modern enough for the more progressive half of musicians/audiences and denigrated as a Soviet state composer by the conservatives.
I don't remember exactly, maybe I had the 8th symphony on Naxos before but the first disc I remember buying was Haitink with 5 and 9 after I had seen the 9th at a concert (local provincial, not Haitink) in the early 1990s. Except for some not too well distributed russian recordings, Haitink was about the only easily buyable recording of the symphonies.
 

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I think it is pretty clear that the last decades have seen a rise in the popularity of "confessional" music from the late romanticism on. The point is not if this is really the best way to perceive Mahler or Shostakovich but it seems that the fact these two (and others) can be listened to in that way has contributed to them leaving a niche and becoming hugely popular. Whereas emotionally more "distant" music like Stravinsky or some Prokofiev or R. Strauss seems not as highly appreciated as it was.

Among conductors one can often see the tradition they come from, like in the case of Craft. Most of the "modernists" like Boulez, Abbado, Gielen,... mostly ignored DSCH (among others). The more "traditional" ones did so as well or were very selective (Karajan made two recordings of the 10th but nothing else). It seems that, with the exception of Haitink (who admitted that he recorded a few of the symphonies for completeness only) until the 1990s it was mostly Russians (clearly dominating the discography until then) or Americans (Ormandy, Bernstein, Previn) who cared most for DSCH.
Even for the string quartets the Brodsky recordings ca. 1990 were only the second complete non-Russian recording (and the older Fitzwilliam was probably oop by then). The famous western quartet ensembles of the 1950-80s (Amadeus, Juilliard, LaSalle, Guarneri, Italiano, Tokyo, Alban Berg...) mostly ignored what many today would see as the most important 20th century quartet series after Bartok. (They might have played a few in recital, I don't know but made no or very few recordings of them.)

No matter if one thinks the DSCH was severly underrated in the West until the 1990s or is somewhat overrated today, Craft's position might not have been an unusual one (although others might have phrased it less negatively) and the "rise" of DSCH is undeniable and quite remarkable.
 

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The 9th symphony is actually one of the best, a brilliantly ironic piece. The problematic "socialist-realist movie scores" are rather pieces like 7 or 11, 12.

I think the dead end metaphor is quite misleading (or maybe a dead end...). What is the "natural" half-life of a style? Was Beethoven's music a "dead end" because his late music was considered difficult for many decades and people didn't continue that style?
If a certain style produced great masterworks, does it really matter if it is abolished or transformed beyond recognition after a few decades? Or should it matter if it "lives" for 2 decades or a century? I don't think so. There can be short and fruitful periods and long ones that are boring or less creative.
 

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I don't want to beat a dead horse. I mentioned myself far above that some listeners and musicians considered DSCH a "Soviet (state) composer" and this might have colored their perception or appreciation. (As after the highly dubious and in many instances fabricated Volkov book, he was "rehabilitated" as Anti-Stalinist quasi-dissident.) However, I don't believe at all that this was a decisive factor for most professional musicians, i.e. someone like Craft.

To me it seems to fit much better that a strong faction of "modernist" musicians (not necessarily as narrow as the 1970 Darmstadt avantgarde) didn't care much for music that overall stuck as close to tonality and traditional forms etc. as Shostakovich did. Just do some correlations if those musicians not playing/conducting Shostakovich or explicitly denigrating his music conducted Britten or Copland or any number of other composers, even from earlier in the 20th century not on one of the accepted modernist-progressive pathways. I'll bet that this will match up quite well in many cases.

Craft had a rather narrow focus as a conductor anyway, but take someone like Abbado. He was politically FAR left in the 60s/70s but his idea of modern "leftist" music was Nono.
 

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Yes, that's what I wrote above. Until the 1980s or even early 1990s, it is easier to name the few western musicians who played/conducted Shostakovich (and even then it was often a select few pieces) than those who mostly ignored his music. This covers a broad range of 3 generations (born in 1880 through 1940s), many nationalities and political preferences from Nazi collaborators to Eurocommies. It's outlandish to think that *all* these people would have been more influenced by Cold War culture politics than by musical reasons.
I'd even agree that Shostakovich's music (uneven as it is IMO) was underrated in the West in that time period and I welcome to have many good recordings to choose from, not one Melodiya/Eurodisc LP in so-so sound (honestly, I am too young for this ;) I didn't get to DSCH before the CD era). But I think his status in 20th century music today is quite exaggerated (again, there are some nonmusical reasons as he can (historically dubious) be celebrated as secret dissident, but I think it is mostly people loving emotional "confessional" music and they get this more from DSCH than from Ligeti)

BTW I don't think it matters either way in which section this thread is located. The curation of the forum is not strict otherwise with a lot ending up in the general forum, so any relocation tends to help with the main forum not getting to cluttered.
 

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At the risk of sounding like a broken record: in the 1950s-70s Shostakovich's music was in the West in no way "threatening" to the status of Stravinsky (or Prokofiev).* It was in a niche in Western Europe and probably overall in the US, despite more American conductors championing the better known symphonies.
Unless there are very good reasons to suspect otherwise one should employ a principle of charity and take such comments as Craft's at face value and as honest personal evaluations of the music in question. Sure, some people tend to polemically exaggerate (e.g. Celibidache on Mahler or Leibowitz on Sibelius) but Craft's comment seems too "dry" for a polemic.

*The situation of the champions of dodekaphonism vs. Stravinsky in the 1920s was different. They really were pissed that what they considered primitive was more successful than their own school they considered in the great historical tradition of Bach, Beethoven, Wagner and Brahms. Schoenberg called Stravinsky "the little Modernsky" in a short vocal piece.
 

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It's true. A thread listing and discussing every single famous musician in history who made negative comments about now-famous composers-whether mild or scathing, informed or prejudiced-would be a very long thread.

ETA: example, "was Mendelssohn right about Berlioz?"

Well, it was just, like, his opinion, man...
But he was at least witty. Supposedly Mendelssohn said that Berlioz's main problem was that he was going to a lot of trouble to become raving mad but never succeded.
 
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