Personal views on music are often problematic, precisely because they are personal. People asked to choose music to accompany their solitude often select pieces by association, pieces they heard at a particular time or place that was significant in their lives. The music becomes a reinforcement of purely internal associations and thus comes to signify things that are not actually in the music, itself, or even its experience, either for an audience or probably for its composer. In offering this personal view of Shostakovich Symphony no 4, I want to deal with the music first and foremost and my reactions to it. The views remain, however, nothing more than personal, but I hope they have at least something to do with the music.
The fourth symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich presents particular challenges. It was withdrawn by the composer during rehearsals and he himself did not hear a performance until its … Read More