Pure Evil

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.

3 Replies to “Pure Evil”

  1. Sniff sniff, that’s just reverse snobbery. All culture is “actual.” Highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow have no musical meaning. Regardless of genre, all music is only good, bad, or mediocre. Just listen to as much as you can to find the best.

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