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At least The Nose wasn't banned at the time. There was still artistic freedom for composers in the Soviet Union during 1929-30, it's just that The Nose was simply a box office bomb and was then forgotten. Needless to say, had the work premiered later in the 1930s the Culture Commissars would have had Shostakovich's balls on a fork...
True, but the whole plot makes a mockery of a government official, not something that Comrade Stalin was likely to look upon favorably...Besides the flagrant sexuality and violence of Lady Macbeth, one of the things in that opera to which the "Steel Man" took offense was DS' portrayal of the cops as a bunch of bored, lazy, drunken bullies - hardly a wholesome depiction of those noble guardians of the honest proletarian values of the Revolution - the NKVD!!
 

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.....Such as the episode when the Soviets dragged poor Shostakovich to New York to make some kind of an ideological point, and Irving Kristol and Nikolas Nabokov were plotting a counter-strike from a suite in Waldorf Astoria, and how then the whole anti-Shostakovich ball started rolling? Such a story.
Yes, but is there some evidence of Craft's connection to this??
 

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Cheers. If there is something concrete linking Craft to Cold War politics regarding the assessment of Shostakovich, it will be interesting to read.
To be clear, I'm not saying that it's impossible. But it definitely isn't something I've previously encountered with Craft specifically.
Same here........
 

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As I explain above, this is not what happened. Stravinsky embraced it on his own volition.
My post was not a response to yours; I was reacting to comments I'd seen by others.

How is it wrong to state an opinion? In the quoted statement, what is factual is all true, and the rest, which is most of the quote, is simply opinion.
I was stating my opinion that Robert Craft was wrong about Shostakovich. Why do you have a problem with that?
 

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To say that Bach wasn't an 18th century avant-gardist (who was?) doesn't mean that he didn't, by a number of criteria, innovate as regards music and the language of music (of course that meant something different in his day); and, have to say it again, Bach's "extraordinary powers of invention" were unequaled. We're just going to have to disagree as regards Bach. As regards Stravinsky, I attended a concert in which Joshua Bell performed Beethoven and Stravinsky. What struck me with incredible force was how childish, insipid and "conservative" Stravinsky's music sounded next to Beethoven.
I don't think Bach can be called an "innovator". Scarlatti was much more that type, imo. He was a perfecter or "culminator" of the traditions he inherited, not a rebel against them.
 

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I don't think Bach can be called an "innovator". Scarlatti was much more that type, imo. He was a perfecter or "culminator" of the traditions he inherited, not a rebel against them.
I think one can 'innovate' within a given style though, the word innovate doesn't necessarily imply rebellion. If someone makes innovations to a technology like an automobile for example, they aren't really rebelling against anything. In some ways I think it is more challenging to innovate in a style that has such a long history than it is to do go in a different musical direction.
 

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I don't think Bach can be called an "innovator". Scarlatti was much more that type, imo. He was a perfecter or "culminator" of the traditions he inherited, not a rebel against them.
Considering the kind other professional church composers were writing at the time, Bach was writing music acceptable for his position and time. Look at J.D. Zelenka and J. Zach, for instance. Bach's cantatas were also criticized for having too much "Italian opera" in them, something the real conservatives, J.J. Fux and M. Spiess, opposed, in religious music.
(6:14, 7:00, 7:29, 8:17, 8:52, 9:41, 10:15)
 

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The Congress for Cultural Freedom was a CIA-driven anti-Soviet advocacy group...I've not detected any definite connection between this group and Robert Craft.
Yes, I've heard of this, and other CIA-backed modern art programs in West Germany, including avant garde music radio broadcasts. Simply put I, like you, have never heard of any connection to Craft, and it's still hard for me to believe it was a significant factor in the OP's quote, based on what I already know about Craft and his many writings about Stravinsky and other topics. I'm happy to be corrected on this if there is in fact something concrete linking Craft to such things.
 

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It is difficult to comment an out of context - and with a generic "Seventies" indication - opinion, nonetheless it sounds quite logic when you consider Craft's CV and the historical context of the Seventies: that was a time when Darmstadt was à la page, Stravinsky's death was a media event, it was a time when you could turn on the TV and see a show presented by Luciano Berio, concerts of Xenakis' music were a huge thing, Stockhausen was some kind of celebrity, it is the birth of IRCAM, and the list could go on and on. In such a cultural climate it was unavoidable to see Shostakovich as some kind of relic.
Personally I have very little interest in Shostakovich's music - and I have dedicated a lot of time to it during the years - it does not work for me, staying in the USSR I prefer Weinberg.
Ditto for Weinberg.
 

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Moving this to the politics and religion in music sub-forum to make discussion easier (one hopes). Stick to politics directly related to music and musicians though.
 

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Moving this to the politics and religion in music sub-forum to make discussion easier (one hopes). Stick to politics directly related to music and musicians though.
of course you are aware that your decision is not moderated at all since implies that the one and only forumer saying Craft's position was a political one was right. Now the question is: is it possible to separate music - or any other aspect of our social life - from politics? the fact is that politics is not only what the government does or does not - as a fact that is a very limited understanding of politics - "government" is a way to control and direct the conflicting relationships in a society, moderating a forum it is politics, even Bulldog's polls are politics, sorry but IMHO this is laughable.
 

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I moved it not because one member considers it political, but because others have expressed an interest in discussing that particular aspect as well with him - and that can not be done elsewhere on the site.
 

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I moved it not because one member considers it political, but because others have expressed an interest in discussing that particular aspect as well with him - and that can not be done elsewhere on the site.
are you a politician in real life ;)
that lonely member had - sua sponte - declared that later in the year he would have made a post about it in the political section of the forum. This discussion could have continued in the regular section between people interested in discussing the music of Shostakovich, its merits and Craft' s opinion.
Otherwise every discussion - even polls - about the music of Shostakovich needs to be confined in this section.
One final note: cold war it is not politics, it is history, do we have a history section?
 

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I really don't see your problem here. Do you think that because it is now in this sub-forum only political aspects can be discussed? Of course not. It just offers the extra option to do that, while other aspects can be discussed as well.
 

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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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It was the year 1963 when in Italy Massimo Mila published "breve storia della musica" - brief history of music - the book went on for decades to be the most (and unique example of) popular introduction to the history of classical music in Italy, it is is still in print even now. Mila - who taught history of music at Turin's University - wrote about music for L'Unità - the official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party, so it was clearly a man of the left. In Mila's book Shostakovich deserves two pages where he is described as a continuator of the symphonic tradition born with Beethoven, overall he gets the same amount of space of Szymanowski.

I consider Mila's assessment quite fair and in it relies also the obvious reason for the recent success of Shostakovich: the concert houses running symphonic seasons needed something new to feed their audience, someone working in the 19th century tradition of the genre fitted the bill.

I have also felt some kind of pity for the composers of the USSR of Shostakovich's generation, when you look at the genesis and at the result of works like the Jazz Suites pity is the only word coming to my mind, those composers were deprived of the nourishment which has historically been at the basis of classical music: being a world constantly in contact with its musical times, Palestrina was more aware of what was musically going on in the world than Shostakovich.
 

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It's neither correct nor incorrect, but rather just an opinion. You might agree or disagree with Craft's opinion.

For myself, I partially agree, but I think Craft is missing some dramatic elements that Shostakovich was truly great at it, not to mention what Shostakovich achieved within restrictions, given how he was forced by his government, on threat of imprisonment or death, to restrict his imagination in terms of 20th-c innovations and novelties.
I think that's how |I would put it as well.
 
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