Sunday’s edition of The New York Times included a new article by Richard Taruskin, this year’s guest at the Lloyd Old and Constance Old lecture series. The article, which is part literary book review, part contextual history of the novel’s setting, has been stimulating the kind of pointed discussion that one has come to expect in Taruskin’s wake. It concerns the recent novel by Jeremy Barnes, The Noise of Time, which features a certain Dmitry Shostakovich as its protagonist. The novel (which you can learn more about in the official NYT book review) presents Shostakovich in his oft-mythologized form as a martyr of Soviet oppression. Taruskin argues that far from being a martyr, Shostakovich was a pragmatist who navigated a difficult political climate as necessary for his own survival and was not above some mud slinging himself.
The Lloyd Old and Constance Old lecture series is dedicated to exploring issues in modern music. See Richard Taruskin, with Scott Burnham and a musical guest, December 7th at 6:30. Admission is free.