Last night I listened carefully to the first three movements of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.
I am reading his memoirs. I was amazed at how beautiful I found this music. Shostakovich’s life was one of turmoil and continual fear and impending disaster. He walked a fine line of artistic integrity and personal survival in Stalin’s Russia. I recently read a fictionalization of some of the events in his life (The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes). It captures a lot of this fear in the image of Shostakovich waiting by an elevator in the building he lived.
He has his bags packed and is waiting there to prevent the secret service from crashing into his apartment and taking him by force. This does not happen, although Shostakovich did face questioning including an intimidating phone call from Stalin in which he declined to represent Russia in America.
He did end up coming to America. Unlike many people in Russia and Europe escaping terrible lives, he seems to have hated America. He loved his country but knew it well.
Anyway, I only mention all this to underline the miracle of how I hear his music not only dealing emotionally with a troubled life and country but also containing much that is beautiful and redemptive to my ears.
I embed this recording largely because it has the 2 piano score for the listener to follow. I was surprised to find that I was able to download the complete score and follow it on Scribd on my tablet.
It was random that I found it (googled). Scribd seems to be a paid subscription service for ebooks and audiobooks. Surprisingly they seem to have music scores as well. I am using a three free items offer to look at the score of Shostakovich’s symphony. The monthly rate is $8.99. This gives you access to 3 books and 1 audiobook each month. But also apparently unlimited access to their sheet music collection.
Very stupidly they don’t seem to provide a definite list of what they have. Dumb. Without knowing exactly which scores they make available I have little interest in subscribing.
Our annual California Jenkins visit is coming to an end. Eileen and I get on a plane this morning to go back home.
Whenever we visit California, I have lots of odd associations going through my brain. It’s hard not to think of Raymond Carver.
And just now between listening to Shostakovich this morning and an insistent ringing telephone (the old fashioned ring) I feel like I’m in the movie Barton Fink.
Anyway it’s been a good visit, but I am definitely looking forward to getting home.
What Your Brain Looks Like When It Solves a Math Problem – The New York Times
Sometimes I feel like I have woken up in a futuristic sci fi novel. Amazing stuff.
How the ‘Stupid Party’ Created Donald Trump – The New York Times
Article by a Republican.
Dated to c. 1600 BC, Nebra Sky Disk is one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century
One of the idiot looters damaged the disk with his shovel. Stupid stupid stupid.