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Supervising a Grand Beauty

I promised I would not blab too much about music on this new blog, but I was listening to Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony today and I feel compelled to share.  Sometimes I wonder why Shostakovich does not have a Bach or Mozart stature yet, but then I realize that there is probably a crazy and insane part of me that identifies with the spirituality of Shostakovich and not everyone is insane enough to pick up on that quality.  Here I am, peddling Shostakovich again, or maybe I am just defending the emotional feel of leaving the real world that I get with much of his music.

The 7th starts as if someone has jerked open a door to the universe and you are able to fly above with arms spread and you feel as though you are supervising a grand beauty.  The first five chords of the piece make my insides explode with joy.  Soon, the piece slips into this unending bolero-style military march.  It is twenty minutes of the best battle music you will ever hear, reflecting the Russian troops marching in to re-take Leningrad from the Germans.   War is the ugly part of the universe, but with good conquering evil, the triumph works because Shostakovich proves to you that the universe is, after all is counted, good at the core with loads of gray shit sprinkled on top.  You have to pierce through the shit to get to the good, and Shostakovich does that better than any other Western Artist.  Of course, he had a lot of shit to pierce through, working under the Stalin regime for several years.

This is just the first movement.  I love the whole piece.  I know composers are human because the first movement of symphonies is always filled with the most mastery and all the subsequent movements are generally not as artistic.  (The exception to this rule is Mozart, but I think he was human also with a lot of some sort of god inside.)  I don’t know what kind of background or insanity it takes to appreciate Shostakovich’s 7th, but if I’ve sold one person, this was well worth the share.

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  1. #1 by fillingahole on December 21, 2010 - 7:26 pm

    “the universe is, after all is counted, good at the core with loads of gray shit sprinkled on top”
    crass and pretty

    • #2 by Carl on December 22, 2010 - 1:18 am

      Yes! Shostakovich’s music is often crass and pretty, bombastic and gentle, horrid and sweet. It is rich stuff.

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