Story of a Friendship

Dmitri Shostakovich, Isaak Glikman
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ISBN 9780571209828 Format Hardback
Published 22/10/2001 Length 384 pages

About Book

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote regularly to his close friend Isaak Glikman during their forty-year relationship from the early 1930s to the composer's death in 1975. The core of Chronicle of a Friendship is a collection of 288 of these letters starting in 1941, when both correspondents were evacuated from the city. Earlier letters were destroyed during the siege of Leningrad but the chronological gap is more than compensated for by Glikman's detailed account, seen very much from the inside, of the main events in the composer's life during the turbulent 1930s, the height of Stalin's terror.

The book amounts to a highly personal biography in which Glikman has used the authentic voice of Shostakovich in his letters as a catalyst for comprehensive explications and reminiscences. A portrait emerges of a complex and acutely sensitive personality, endowed with enormous moral integrity, humanity, compassion and a caustic, often self-deprecating sense of humour. Chronicle of a Friendship is a treasury of facts about milestone events, dates of compositions, first performances and so on. But in its revelations of the deeper, tormented feelings of the composer's soul, especially in letters which reflect on his increasingly debilitating illnesses, his preoccupation with death, and the crippling artistic and moral consequences of living under an ideologically tyrannical regime, it is much more than that.

  • Translated By: Anthony Phillips

    Anthony Phillips learnt Russian in the 'Secret Classrooms' of National Service in the 1950s and later at Oxford. The language continued to play an important part during his later career in music administration, during which he became general manager of London's Royal Festival Hall. Story of a Friendship, his translation of Shostakovich's letters to Isaak Glikman, was published by Faber in 2000, and Anton Chekhov: A Life in Letters (with Rosamund Bartlett) by Penguin Classics in 2004.

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