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Stormy Applause: Making Music in a Worker's State

Dubinsky, Rostislav

17 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1555531199 / ISBN 13: 9781555531195
Published by Northeastern Univ Pr, 1992
Used Condition: Good Soft cover
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cover wear, creasing. name written on ffep. text is unmarked. binding sound. Bookseller Inventory # 040899

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Stormy Applause: Making Music in a Worker's ...

Publisher: Northeastern Univ Pr

Publication Date: 1992

Binding: Trade Paperback

Book Condition:Good

About this title


In this accessibly written, anecdotal memoir of the politics of music in the post-war Soviet Union, Rostislav Dubinsky, who was for more than twenty years first violinist and artistic director of the world-famous Borodin Quartet, recounts the telling details of life as a musician and a Jew within a totalitarian regime.


Though written remarkably well and full of brave, defiant flashes of wit and humor, this is a sad and haunting book. Dubinsky was the founder and for 30 years the first violinist of the Borodin String Quartet, one of the supreme ensembles of its kind. Here he describes a musician's life under a totalitarian regime: the soul-destroying restrictions and constant dangers, exacerbated by a pervasive anti-Semitism--officially illegal but actively encouraged and ruthlessly practiced by the authorities. The quartet's original players were all Jews, though the cellist was a half-Jew who passed as Russian; the second violinist and violist were eventually replaced by Russians. Dubinsky was the "artistic director" in charge of rehearsals and musical decisions, but the quartet's activities, including the members' personal interrelationships, were completely dominated by politics. And indeed so is the narrative: Dubinsky only rarely talks about music, though always movingly and with insight, and never explains how the group attained its greatness.

Certain scenes stand out: Stalin's and Prokofiev's deaths on the same day; vignettes of Russia's greatest musicians, such as Shostakovich (whose quartets they played), Oistrakh, Richter, and Rostropovich; the group's tours abroad, affording the first, overwhelmingly tempting glimpse of freedom; an anti-Russian demonstration in Cincinnati, defused when Dubinsky confronted the crowd; and the cellist's near-fatal automobile accident in California. Ever present is the paralyzing fear of the mercenary, soulless Russian bureaucracy. Dubinsky emigrated to America in 1975, formed the Borodin Trio with his wife, pianist Luba Edina, and was chairman of the Chamber Music Department at Indiana University until his death not long ago. --Edith Eisler

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