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Art Workers

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Art Workers

For much of his life Shostakovich kept a daily schedule of his activities which can be very useful in establishing biographical details. Shostakovich Studies 2 contains a fascinating essay on this by Ol'ga Dombrovskaya: "Notes on Shostakovich's Diary." In connection with entries on his work with film director Leonid Zakharovich Trauberg, Dombrovskaya quotes from a resolution of the All-Union Communist Party Central Committee on "art workers."

Art workers should understand that those who continue to have an irresponsible and frivolous attitude towards their work could well find themselves off-limits with respect to progressive Soviet art and be out of the picture. [op. cit. p 46]

This is from the entry for Sept. 21, 1946. Shostakovich was already familiar with what this could mean as he was made persona non grata in 1936 after Stalin, Molotov and others attended a performance of his opera Lady Macbeth and were not amused. He would experience another banning of his work in 1948. Of course "out of the picture" in the Soviet Union under Stalin could mean something rather more serious than simply having your music banned--you could be sent to a work camp or simply shot in the head.

Something I was not aware of was that Shostakovich was a fairly important film composer, having written music for eighteen films beginning in the late 1920s.

Here is music from the 1929 film New Babylon:




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