Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony: Dilemma of a Genius in Stalinist Russia. (Slavic & East European Studies).
Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony: Dilemma of a Genius in
Stalinist Russia. Aimee J. Jachym, Western Michigan University, Lee
Honors College, Kalamazoo, MI 49008; email@example.com
During the Great Terror, no one was safe from Stalin's purges,
not even officials, and especially not artists like Dmitri Shostakovich.
After the success of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth, an article
appeared in Pravda denouncing the opera and the composer. From then on,
Shostakovich's life was in great danger, and he knew it. He was in
dire need of the full rehabilitation of his status. Shostakovich had to
prove to the Party that his music would now conform to Socialist
Realism, the only acceptable art form. The ticket to full rehabilitation
was his Fifth Symphony. Officials embraced it as an exemplary socialist
realist work, and it was commonly believed that Shostakovich became a
loyal communist supporter. Solomon Volkov made the first public argument
that Shostakovich was a dissident and not a conformist in 1979 when
Testimony was published. Since then, an intensely fought debate about
whether Shostakovich was a communist supporter or dissident has
developed. The case can be examined in terms of his Fifth Sym phony
based on specific and political contexts, musical form, and
contemporaneous and modern reactions from critics and scholars. While
over 20 years have passed, no decisive conclusion has been reached.