Did Nikolay Myaskovsky write a “Collective Farm” symphony or not? As with many gnomic utterances from the Soviet era, it depends on who is speaking. Granted, the composer never explicitly said he did – it was all part of the semantic act of high-flying explored in this insightful, elegant and informative new biography of Patrick Zuk.
Writer, composer and specialist in Russian and Soviet musical culture, Zuk dispels the most piquant excrescences of having become attached to this still underestimated Russian composer while revealing many things buried in the archives. Even a quick read should whet the appetite to investigate Myaskovsky’s accessible catalog of works, topping his fabulously diverse 27 symphonies.
The problem with finding out anything important about Soviet composers (with the exception of Shostakovich or Prokofiev whose works and life always seem to have aroused interest in the West) is the lack of untainted information. from public sources. Officially, all of the creative artists who survived to gain government approval loved the homeland, their careers a series of heroic struggles meant to inspire their fellow citizens. In…
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