Dimitri Shostakovich wrote this (2nd movement, Symphony #10) as a musical portrait of Stalin, who had harrassed him directly and indirectly throughout his career. This is pure malevolence, published after Stalin was safely dead. While Uncle Joe was alive, DS was mostly confined to putting out government approved, “socalist realist” garbage, while keeping much of his “real” work private. Occasionally he could put one over on the Soviets and follow the letter of their requirements while mocking them. One cool thing is that in the finale of this same symphony, he has a theme based on his initials, DSCH, vie for dominance against the Stalin theme from this movement. DSCH wins. Artistic revenge at its finest. “He who laughs last, laughs longest.”
The conductor seems a little too into his hair, and I’m not sure why he appears to be grinning during this grim business. But you’ve gotta give him credit, his musicians are playing the hell out of this. He made his reputation whipping these young Venezuelans into a respectable unit. He’s since gone on to greener pastures in LA.
Mort Künstler is best known today for his vivid paintings of scenes from American history, specifically the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. These works have been featured in books and calendars, and spotlighted in exhibitions around the country.
Less known is Künstler’s early work in men’s adventure magazines, a unique genre that populated newsstands from the 1950s through the late ‘70s. Also known as “men’s sweats,” because most covers featured a sweaty, shirtless guy facing some type of peril, scores of adventure titles vied for a reader’s attention with eye-popping headlines such as “Death Orgy of the Leopard Women” and “Weasels Ripped My Flesh!”