Shostakovich and Literature

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Philip Ross Bullock (University of Oxford)
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Russian culture is frequently perceived in terms of its tendency to logocentrism, a feature that has long tended to shape the development and perception of the various non-verbal art forms. Music is no exception to this rule, characterised as it is by the dominance of texted forms, most notably opera and song. Take, for instance, the nineteenth-century fascination with Pushkin, which extends from Glinka’s

A Life for the Tsar


Ruslan and Liudmila

, via Tchaikovsky’s [Chaikovsky’s]

Eugene Onegin




Queen of Spades

, as well as Musorgsky’s

Boris Godunov

, to the various attempts to set his

Little Tragedies

(Cui, Dargomyzhsky, Rakhmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov). Similarly, almost all of Russia’s poetic tradition has been explored in the song repertoire, where intensely debated…

3349 words

Citation: Bullock, Philip Ross. "Shostakovich and Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 June 2007 [, accessed 22 June 2024.]

1732 Shostakovich and Literature 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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