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Shostakovich and Football: reviews of Dmitri Braginsky's new book
First reviews are appearing for Dmitri Braginsky's remarkable book, Shostakovich and Football: Escape to Freedom, now available from The Shop at Boosey.com.
Dmitri Shostakovich's lifelong passion for the beautiful game is explored in Dmitri Braginsky's Shostakovich and Football: Escape to Freedom, recently released by DSCH Publishers. This lavishly illustrated book, produced in collaboration with Dmitri Shostakovich's Archive and the Rimsky-Korsakov St Petersburg State Conservatoire, was first published in Russian and is now available in a new English translation.
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As Erik Levi notes in BBC Music Magazine's review-feature on the new book, "Shostakovich's love of football gave the Soviet composer an escape from day-to-day life" and "even had an impact on his music". The book examines Shostakovich's attendance at football matches, his referee certification, his newspaper articles and diary entries, and his obsessive fascination with rules and statistics, set against the background of Soviet life in the 1920s-'70s and the composer's own musical output.
"Dmitri Shostakovich, football fanatic... Dmitri Braginsky's book presents everything known about Shostakovich and football - a compendium of information."
"A fascinating book by Dmitri Braginsky... Thanks to the support and encouragement of the composer's widow Irina, Braginsky gained access to the Shostakovich Family Archive in Moscow where he uncovered a wealth of previously unknown material that confirms the extent of the composer's football obsession... His immediate family suggest that his intense love for the game served as a mode of escape from the day-to-day tribulations of his position as the most prominent of Soviet composers. Braginsky suggests that Shostakovich was initially attracted to football because he was intrinsically a gambling man... He knew the game like an expert, like a refined appraiser, like a gourmet. 'During his football experience, he truly felt the same "rush of adrenalin"'."
BBC Music Magazine
"Composer Dmitri Shostakovich found one thing, across the span of decades, that took him away from that stress and brought him enjoyment: soccer... Braginksy says that in pictures Shostakovich always looks stern, as if he's deeply concentrating or seriously annoyed. The pictures of Shostakovich at a soccer match show a different person entirely. He's smiling from ear to ear."
"...superbly researched... Every aspect of Shostakovich's infatuation with the beautiful game is covered here..."
Braginsky's book details Shostakovich's two overtly football-inspired scores: the ballet The Golden Age tells of a Soviet football team visiting the West, whose captain is imprisoned by fascist agents only to be released as the footballers are joined by the local workers to defeat the police, while the composer also created a football scene for a 1944 wartime performance by the NKVD Song and Dance Ensemble. The latter was commissioned by Lavrenity Beria, Stalin's notorious chief of police and another football fan, so Shostakovich could hardly refuse.
Erik Levi suggests in BBC Music Magazine that the music for the NKVD Russian River revue may have found its way in filtered form through to the finale of the Sixth Symphony: "Is the music, with its mixture of insouciant galloping rhythms that parody Rossini and Mozart and the breathless vulgar sounds of the fairground, meant to sound ironic and sarcastic? Perhaps the escapism portrayed here by Shostakovich is in fact another football scene, but presented on a much more ambitious symphonic scale..."
“He lived in football, as though in a special, parallel dimension.”
"Football was a true saving grace for him, helping him live through the persecution at the end of the 1940s... and regain his equilibrium."
> View sample pages from the book*
> Read the full feature on the book in the Moscow Times
> Listen to a radio interview with the author on Classical MPR
Shostakovich and Football is on sale from www.boosey.com/shop, priced £42.00.
DSCH Publishers © 2018
*Sample pages from "Shostakovich and Football: Escape to Freedom” by Dmitri Braginsky, translated from the Russian by Alison Yermolova, © DSCH Publishers, Moscow, 2018. © Dmitri Braginsky, concept, text, photograph selection, 2018. Used by permission.
Photos: Referee in The Golden Age (GATOB 1930), Shostakovich at football stadium (1940s)