Sunday, December 31, 2017

Most Popular Posts of the Year: November and December

The most popular post in November, by quite a margin, was one where I stumbled across some performances of Haydn piano sonatas by Grigory Sokolov that were truly luminescent:

The second most popular post was one from The Spectator and it had to do with the social position of musicians:

The most popular post this month was one on strings:

And the second most popular, on two different ways of looking at Russia:

I'm reading two different books on Russia right now: the biography of Sofia Gubaidulina and A Concise History of Russia (Cambridge) by Paul Bushkovich. Russia has a very tumultuous history! Take Gubaidulina's life as an example: she was born in 1931 which meant that as a small child she lived through Stalin's purges and disruptions that led to the starvation of millions of people. She herself suffered serious malnutrition. Then, as a conservatory student in the 1940s she experienced the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 followed by the complete takeover and control of music composition by the Zhdanov Doctrine that condemned the music of all the best composers including Shostakovich and Prokofiev. I guess Nietzsche was correct: what doesn't quite kill you makes you stronger.

One of the pieces that was banned from performance by the Zhdanov Doctrine was Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 8. This is Emil Gilels in a 1974 recording:

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