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Truth

Hans Keller

21 February 1980
Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich 
edited by Solomon Volkov, translated by Antonina Bouis.
Hamish Hamilton, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 241 10321 5
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... I don’t trust Mr SolomonVolkov an inch, and as for Miss Antonina Bouis, the question of trust hardly arises: Shostakovich is supposed to have said that ‘Hamlet was screwing her’ (i.e. Ophelia) in Nikolai Pavlovich Akimov’s ...

Mikoyan Shuddered

Stephen Walsh: Memories of Shostakovich

21 June 2007
Shostakovich: A Life Remembered 
by Elizabeth Wilson.
Faber, 631 pp., £20, July 2006, 0 571 22050 9
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... if sometimes erring, Communist had come long before glasnost, in the form of his posthumous ‘memoirs’, edited in 1979 under the title Testimony by a thirtysomething Russian musicologist called SolomonVolkov, who by that time had left Moscow for a post at Columbia University. Volkov claimed to have compiled the book out of many meetings and conversations with the composer, and the text is couched ...

Voldemort or Stalin?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Shostakovich

1 December 2011
Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets 
by Wendy Lesser.
Yale, 350 pp., £18.99, April 2011, 978 0 300 16933 1
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Shostakovich in Dialogue: Form, Imagery and Ideas in Quartets 1-7 
by Judith Kuhn.
Ashgate, 296 pp., £65, February 2010, 978 0 7546 6406 2
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... Seventh (‘Leningrad’) Symphony was, he said in 1941, the year of its premiere, ‘about … our sacred war and our victory’. Everything miraculously changed in 1979, when a recent émigré, SolomonVolkov, smuggled out of the USSR the manuscript of a book that he described as Shostakovich’s memoirs. He called it Testimony, and represented its apparent author as a bitter anti-Stalinist, and a ...

Zanchevsky, Zakrevsky or Zakovsky?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Julian Barnes

18 February 2016
The Noise of Time 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 184 pp., £14.99, January 2016, 978 1 910702 60 4
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... new novel by Julian Barnes. So there’s no mistaking the real-life basis of the book, even if you don’t read the acknowledgments, where Elizabeth Wilson’s Shostakovich: A Life Remembered and SolomonVolkov’s Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich are cited as sources. Barnes has done something of the kind before with The Porcupine, based on the trial of the Bulgarian communist leader ...

The Girl Who Waltzes

Laura Jacobs: George Balanchine

8 October 2014
Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer 
by Elizabeth Kendall.
Oxford, 288 pp., £22.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 995934 1
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... three survivors were seen in a restaurant, toasting one another. The city, the ballet, friends, all were numb with disbelief. Lidochka drowned? ‘Lida was a marvellous swimmer,’ Balanchine told SolomonVolkov in the last months of his life. An investigation was half-hearted, then closed. Was it an accident or a plot? A crime of passion or a political murder? Most thought murder. Ivanova had moved ...

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