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- Page count
I'm not sure who to list as the author of this book. The full title is Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich as related to and edited by Solomon Volkov. I opted to list the composer, as these are his thoughts.
This past year I took on a big project, the Suite on Words of Michelangelo Buonarroti by Shostakovich. (And it is work on this project that prevented me from reaching 30 books read this year.) As the Suite is considered by many to be Shostakovich's musical testimony, I wanted to learn more about his life and so decided to read this Testimony which he recounted to his friend Solomon Volkov on condition that it not be published until after his death.
The Testimony's authenticity has been called into question and has been a subject for debate, but current scholarship maintains that it is genuine and authentic. And truly, when you read Shostakovich's words, you hear the same energy, the same humour, the same bitterness, the same righteous power that is in his music. I have no doubt whose thoughts are contained within these pages.
Shostakovich, for the most part, only talks about himself indirectly. He was not the sort of person who liked to draw attention to himself. Rather, he talks about various colleagues, mentors, enemies, etc., and about the general situation in the Soviet Union. But it is through these long, rambling discussions touching on a wide variety of important figures and events, relating anecdotes, expressing his feelings on a number of subjects, that his personality truly shines. Testimony is a fascinating book, not just for capturing such an elusive and fascinating personality but for its unique perspective on historical events and persons.