September 1, 2013 – 5:12 am

Music has always played an integral role in war and its preparations and aftermath. From organizing formations to launching cavalry charges, the sounds of bugle calls, drumming and marching bands have marked routine, coordinated maneuvers, underlined ceremony, celebrated victory and mourned losses. But when it comes to war in music, the two rarely mix. In comparison to its prevalence in theatre, painting and movies, surprisingly little music actually depicts or refers to war itself. Even so, given their stock in trade, composers naturally have been attracted to the sheer sound of war. After all, the explosive power of munitions must have packed a huge visceral thrill in the prehistoric era before rock concerts, home theatres, mega-watt amps and subwoofers.

- Peter Gutmann, March 2003 on the eve of the Invasion of Iraq (click here)
Is it time yet for another war in the Middle East?

+ + + + +

Censorship is alive and well in the democratic state of America.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK; August 15, 2010. Broadcast on Kulturradio RBB Germany, August 31, 2010. Ex digital cable radio stereo.

Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto was composed during the post-war years in Soviet Russia (1947-48), a time of severe censorship. A new censorship decree had been issued in 1934 that required advance screenings of concerts, plays and ballets at least 10 days prior to their premieres and seats in the concert halls were reserved for censors.

Grounds for banning a work included anti-Soviet propaganda, lack of proper ideological perspective, and the lack of perceived artistic merit. In the ’50s, the focus of Soviet censorship shifted to literary works.

Because of this hostile environment, Shostakovich kept the concerto unpublished until Stalin’s death in March 1953 and the thaw that followed. Music historian Boris Schwarz notes that during the post-war years, Shostakovich divided his music into two idioms. The first was “simplified and accessible to comply with Kremlin guidelines” while the second was “complex and abstract to satisfy [Shostakovich’s] own artistic standards”; the First Violin Concerto, given the complex nature of its composition, undoubtedly falls into the second category and as such was not premiered until 1955 reports Wikipedia (click here).

The Russian composer’s first violin concerto moves from a solitary brooding to urgent manic energy to a complex tapestry of sound and concludes with a violent dance of liberation. It mirrored Shostakvoich’s insecurities and the uncertainties of the time this music was made, when the Cold War was very much alive. German Julia Fischer has not lived through those hard times but she manages to pull out the emotions.

While Fischer can play the music that Shostakovich was afraid to, these days insiders in the US have to face the same fears that spooked the Russian composer. To tell the truth and face life imprisonment or to turn the other way.

It’s beginning to feel like Moscow on the Hudson in reverse. No?
- Professor Red

Thanks to the person who shared this at Dime in 2010.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Dimitri Shostakovich Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor, op. 99
Track 01. I. Noctourne. Adagio (18.9MB)
Track 02. II. Scherzo. Allegro non troppo (11.0MB)
Track 03. III. Passacaglia. Adante (20.8MB)
Track 04. IV. Burlesca. Allegro con brio (9.3MB)
approx time: 35m

Shostakovich’s Violin Concert No 1 was performed on New Year’s Day 1956 in America. The next day, violinist David Oistrakh and conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos and his New York orchestra were in the studios to record the premiere version for release. Still regarded as a classic performance, you can buy the Sony CD here.

+ + + + +
+ + + + +

Click here for more shows that are still open for sharing.

Click here for closed shows.
(Readers can email us a request to reopen closed shows.)


  2. Shostakovich for Manning and Snowden! Right on, Right ON, RIGHT ON!

    By lowendbill on Sep 1, 2013

  3. tune that viola to Eb shostakovitch !

    By 3rd stone from the darth on Sep 6, 2013

  4. Eb is good for Thin Lizzy but not for you

    Tune it to B sharp or C flat and stick it,lol

    By ronnie wood on Sep 6, 2013

  5. That should be Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, right BigO?

    Thanks to you for the ShostaK, and thanks for the tribute to the two kids who made a stand.

    By Tony on Sep 8, 2013

  6. Late to the party here, but thanks and cheers for this post and the sentiment that inspired it.

    By kingpossum on Sep 22, 2013

Post a Comment