Letters

Slogans and Tyranny

Sir: It is one of history’s great ironies that the brutality of Stalin’s socialist regime shaped Dmitri Shostakovich’s genius, gifting us with one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Shostakovich was forced to play a game of cat-and-mouse with the Supreme Soviet, a regime that championed his work whilst simultaneously banning it. The strained echoes of Russian folk music haunting his compositions are symbolic of the Soviets’ attack on romanticism. Marxism derided sentimentality as a bourgeois affectation. It preferred to champion the “rationalist” conceit of social justice through equality. The equality of the Siberian gulags, as it turned…

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