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Decoding Shostakovich


Throughout January and February 2014:

One of Russia’s most fascinating and complex composers—Dmitri Shostakovich—goes under the magnifying glass when Pacific Symphony partners with Chapman University’s Global Arts Program to present “Decoding Shostakovich,” a festival dedicated to the iconic composer, whose life unfolded under the Soviet system. There are myriad reasons for a festival devoted to this fascinating man, beginning with the tremendous impact he had on classical music in Russia and beyond. Through classical concerts and a wide array of presentations (discussions, film, dance, lecture, piano recital, theater, symposium, book club and master classes), “Decoding Shostakovich” probes deeply into the man to reveal the composer’s relationship to his home country, its culture and politics and the effects these had on his music. The festival, which began in November, continues into February 2014.

“This series of events—including performances of Shostakovich’s work, as well as panels, exhibits, and films—is a wonderful beginning for what we believe will be a very successful partnership between Chapman University and Pacific Symphony,” said Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., chancellor of Chapman University. “Music is indeed a vital part of the history of ideas, and the nature of our partnership is to bring to light such interplay in ways that will indelibly connect music to history and to other forms of art.”

Over the course of the 20th-century, the symphony was thought by some in America and Europe to be virtually extinct as a genre. But this was not the case in Soviet Russia, where Shostakovich and fellow composer Sergei Prokofiev produced symphonies that swiftly entered the standard repertoire—and filled the great societal need.

When the composer died, The New York Times obituary called him a faithful member of the Communist Party—a “loyal Communist.” No one would say that today, says Volkov, who at the end of “Testimony,” quotes Shostakovich as saying: “I can’t go on describing my unhappy life. There were no particularly happy moments in my life, no great joys. It was gray and dull and it makes me sad to think about it. It saddens me to admit it, but it’s the truth, the unhappy truth.

Shostakovich Festival Calendar

Introducing Pacific Symphony’s Book Club Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich by Solomon Volkov

Testimony is a seminal study of Stalin’s cultural dictatorship and its harrowing impact on Russia’s most famous composer. The manuscript was smuggled out of the Soviet Union and has to this day never been published in Russia.

Sun, Feb 2, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
Conversation with Volkov and Horowitz

To sign up: email Facilitator Susan Key

For concert tickets: Call (714) 755-5799
Student tickets $10 (advance phone orders only)
Save 50% with promo code BOOKCLUB.