2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

Dostoevsky and the Politics of Shostakovich's Final Song Cycle

Noah B. Rogers
Dr. Marc Rice, Faculty Mentor

Although Dmitri Shostakovich is one of the most celebrated composers in Western music, his life and political affiliations have been among the most controversial topics in musicology since his death in 1975. Due to the immense pressure suffered by Shostakovich to compose in accordance with Soviet censorship policies, his symphonies and other large-scale compositions, though his most celebrated works, are arguably his most artistically unoriginal and politically subdued. It was in smaller genres, such as the song cycle, that Shostakovich found refuge from external constraints and the freedom to express his true musical style. This study provides a musical and textual analysis of Shostakovich’s penultimate opus, Four Verses of Captain Lebyadkin, with texts from Dostoevsky’s novel Demons. It investigates political motivations behind the composer’s selection of texts as well as his reinvention of Dostoevsky’s subtle social commentary and veiled political criticism in a modern sociopolitical context.

Keywords: Shostakovich, Dostoevsky, Four Verses of Captain Lebyadkin, Demons, Soviet Union, Censorship, Politics in music, Song cycle


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 209-3
Location: MC 210
Time: 10:45

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