Friday, August 29, 2014

In Memory of Vladimir Lenin

Dmitri Shostakovich
8.5" x 8", oil on wood, 2014
Wikipedia barely has a good word for Shostakovich's 12th. It calls it programmatic, traditional, workmanlike, naive, infiltrated by Soviet politics, patriotic, a creative slump, an overblown film score, academically correct, and so on. True, the words are the result of what critics have said about the piece, but still. I don't think I've ever read such a negative Wikipedia page. The 12th Symphony has been with me since 1987 when I found a set of Soviet printed discs on Melodia. The 11th was also part of the haul. They introduced me to Shostakovich and the 12th especially has been one of my favorite pieces of classical music ever since. Thus despite Wikipedia's analysis, the 12th Symphony belongs to my list of the 100 favorite recordings of all time. The symphony is subtitled The Year 1917 and is dedicated to the memory of Vladimir Lenin, who, according to the composer, "is the greatest man of our epoch." The symphony (opus 112) was written in 1961, a year after Shostakovich had joined the communist party.
I chose to paint a younger Shostakovich this time. (This is my 4th.)

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