Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Johnson, Lee. “The ‘Haunted’ Shostakovich and the Co-presence of Bach.” Tempo 63 (July 2009): 41-50.

Shostakovich depended on Bach to confront a tragic state of reality under Soviet rule, and musical co-presence serves as his creative response to the demands placed on his identity. Musical co-presence refers to a blurring of boundaries between past and present due to the incorporation of past work into the fabric of the present work. Both Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues and the String Quartet No. 8 exhibit such co-presence and are closely associated with political crises in Shostakovich’s life and with his identity as a composer. It is impossible to isolate the composer’s life from his art; it was in times of crisis when Shostakovich turned to Bach as a mentor figure. Although the 1948 Zhdanov Decree denounced musical formalism, Shostakovich still decided to compose 24 Preludes and Fugues. His response should be interpreted as a strong reaffirmation of his identity as a composer by creating music derived from the very foundations of artistic expression. In doing so, he is heralding his own identity as being more significant than his contemporary cultural conditions. Bach thus represents Shostakovich’s renewed sense of identity under Soviet power. This heavy reliance on Bachian forms displays co-presence instead of allusion, as Bach’s presence constitutes the essence in the innovative design and ideological substance of the entire work. The more closely Shostakovich embodies Bach’s creative modes, the more authentic his own compositional voice becomes. David Fanning asserts that Shostakovich employs a specifically Bachian binary fugue in his work. The String Quartet No. 8 also displays co-presence in the Bachian fugal opening and closing movements.

Works: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15 in A Major, Op. 141 (41), Prelude and Fugue in C Major, Op. 87, No. 1 (43), Prelude and Fugue in F-sharp Major, Op. 87, No. 13 (44), Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, Op. 87, No. 20 (44), Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, Op. 87, No. 22 (44), String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 110 (45), Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93 (45), Sonata for Viola and Piano in C Major, Op. 147 (49).

Sources: Rossini: Guillaume Tell (41); Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (41); Shostakovich: The Song of the Forests, Op. 81 (43); Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C Major, BWV 846, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (43), Prelude and Fugue No. 9 in E Major, BWV 878, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (44), Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 871, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (44), Prelude and Fugue No. 16 in G Minor, BWV 885, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (45), The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, Prelude and Fugue No. 4 in C-sharp Minor, BWV 849, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (45); Beethoven: String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131 (45); Shostakovich: Tormented by Grievous Bondage (46), Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 10 (46), Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 (46), Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 107 (46), Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Op. 29 (46); Wagner: Götterdämmerung, WWV 86D (46); Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (46); Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 in E Minor, Op. 93 (46); Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (49).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Jingyi Zhang

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