Shostakovich's Bach

Richard Taruskin

in On Russian Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249790
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942806 | DOI:
Shostakovich's Bach

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In the ashes of world war and revolutionary terror, the Beethovenian art of profundity and power began to look more like an art of violence and psychopathology, and composers sought refuge in what seemed the saner, more orderly, world of Bach. This chapter explores the emergence of the musician Bach in Russian music. Bach became the new ecumenical patriarch, and for Stravinsky and the other Parisians, represented an art that wishes to be plain, brisk, nondescriptive, and even non-expressive, in the words of the composer Charles Koechlin. Embracing him meant above all renouncing the Romantic nationalism that had brought about the world disaster. Dmitry Shostakovich's imagined Bach was a consoling pastor who could lead him beside the still waters and restore his soul. Buffeted by the world in its games of power as no mere composer had ever been, Shostakovich was desperately seeking a neutral corner.

Keywords: Bach; Parisians; musician; Dmitry Shostakovich; Romantic nationalism; Russian music

Chapter.  2087 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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