Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Copland

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 3

Yesterday’s Music History Monday postmarked the 80th anniversary of the completion of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 on December 27, 1941. The utterly cinematic first movement of the symphony depicts a magnificent and lyric “landscape” gutted by a brutal invasion theme that grows from nothing to a vicious, overpowering, overwhelming musical malignancy. Given current events at the time Shostakovich composed that movement – the German invasion of the Soviet Union – it is natural to assume that the “invasion theme” (as it became known) is a depiction of the encroaching Nazi horde. However, in private, Shostakovich told those he trusted that the symphony – and the theme with it – had been conceived before the German invasion, which began on June 22, 1941: “The Seventh Symphony had been planned before the war and consequently it simply cannot be seen as a reaction to Hitler’s attack. The ‘invasion theme’ has nothing to do with the attack. I was thinking of other enemies of humanity when I composed the theme. Naturally, fascism is repugnant to me, but not only German fascism; any form is repugnant. Nowadays people like to recall the prewar period as an idyllic time, saying that everything was fine […]

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