Before I begin today’s post about my influences, I am going to write briefly about love and relationships. People will always reveal their true selves. You have to have compassion for them. The truly troubled will do anything they can to hurt you, the key is to not react and let them fall to the wayside. Their downfall will be their tendency to hurt those who care about them. Ignore and ignite.
Now. . .let the end times roll.
One of my all time favorite 20th-century masterworks is Track 4 of the album I have shared above, a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Trio featuring Isaac Stern, Yo-Yo Ma, and Emanuel Ax. The movement is built around a theme that is dark and macabre. The theme itself has a gypsy flavor and Shostakovich is said to have written this after learning that the Nazis had forced some Jews to play the violin on their graves before being executed at gunpoint.
Shostakovich is relevant because his music was about taking a muted stance against totalitarianism and Stalinism. Every time I hear his work, I can almost feel his anguish and frustration; and his overall anxiety about his own future and the fate of his friends and family. In fact, over the years I have come to identify with The Three Russian S composers over the usual Three B’s (Stravinsky, Shostakovich, & Schnittke as opposed to Bach, Beethoven, & Brahms; I never particularly enjoyed Brahms’ music). Furthermore, Shostakovich’s music contains a kernel of the polystylism we find in Schnittke’s work. This movement in particular contains not only the brooding violin them, but also ostinati that are reminiscent of popular music; a tonality that shifts center as abruptly as anything found in Schnittke’s work; romantic piano flourishes; and that characteristic sardonicism that only Dmitri Shostakovich was able to pull off in a dire way that made you take his humor very, very seriously.
There is not much else I can say about this piece, or should say about this piece. The work certainly speaks for itself, as all great masterworks tend to speak entirely for themselves. Shostakovich never had the luxury of playing public relations for himself in Stalinist Russia. Just listening to his work makes me feel ashamed of all the luxuries I personally take for granted -Facebook, Twitter, blogging, buying my own commodities, being able to self-release my own work, etc. His music is a reaffirmation of the freedoms we should be fighting for. His work is a reaffirmation of the future we should all be fighting for. To sit by quietly is suicide.
Abolish Fear. Establish Trust.
Composer, Artist, Writer