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The Noise of TimeKovitch reflects on his predicament his personal history his parents various women and wives his children and all who The Noise PDFEPUBare still alive themselves hang in the balance of his fate And though a stroke of luck prevents him from becoming yet another casualty of the Great Terror for decades to come he will be held fast under the thumb of despotism made to represent Soviet values at a cultural conference in New York. Here I am listening to Shostakovich First Piano Concerto and wondering about Julian Barnes latest novel biography Throughout my reading I was asking myself why had he written this book I know his interest in classical music In his The Lemon Table Vigilance in my favorite short story It takes place during a concert in which Shostakovich’s music is played Barnes has also dealt with ‘real people’ in Arthur George in a highly successful fictional recreation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but this was entering a literary area which so far I had not associated with himMoreover Shostakovich in particular has been in the recent literary limelight I have heard that Vollman’s Europe Central which I have not read deals with a very fictional approach with the composer There is also Salomon Volkov’s Testimony The Memoirs which I own but have not yet read This last work occasioned a bitter controversy in The New York Review of Books I sort of perused through the confrontation between Orlando Figes and the Volkov when it took place gosh now two decades ago but cannot review it now since I am no longer subscribed GR takes up all my bookish explorations But as Orlando Figes does not have a reputation of unbreakable honesty I simply could not take sides This confrontation got onto such a high register that a book has been published about it The Shostakovich Wars view spoilernot in GR database yet but here it is in Google books hide spoiler

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The Noise of Time Free read ¶ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free Û ❰PDF❯ ✐ The Noise of Time Author Julian Barnes – A compact masterpiece dedicated to the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich Julian Barnes’s first novel since his best selling Man Booker Prize–winning The Sense oCity forced into joining the Party and compelled constantly to weigh appeasing those in power against the integrity of his music Barnes elegantly guides us through the trajectory of Shostakovitch's career at the same time illuminating the tumultuous evolution of the Soviet Union The result is both a stunning portrait of a relentlessly fascinating man and a brilliant exploration of the meaning of art and its place in society. A uiet book of the tough moral choices of a famous composer who has to survive in the controlling atmosphere of the Soviet system over the decades This channeling of the life of Shostakovich takes a minimalist route of presenting little of his family life childhood and emotional life I was a little disappointed not to get any real window on his creative process or even much detail on his musical interests and development But through Barnes’ focus on his state of mind at a few seminal turning points in his life I felt something powerful about the humanity of a creative soul seeping out between the cracks in the walls that would constrain him Certain brilliant touches in Barnes’ literary forms rendered a similar feeling about this author’s talent which also blooms amid the arid atmosphere of the stage like settings of his narrativeIn 1929 Stalin had a negative reaction to a Shostakovich’ opera at the Bolshoi a version of Lady Macbeth set in Russia Critics follow the dictator’s lead resulting in a newspaper headline the composer reads which turns his world upside down “Muddle Instead of Music” Despite its popularity around the world in his country his opera “was to be put down like a yapping dog which had suddenly displeased its master” The work is tagged as having “tickled the perverted taste of the bourgeois with its fidgety neurotic music” It took a long time to climb out of that hole toward renewed success gained at the cost of certain compromises Under the precept from Lenin that “art belongs to the people” the apparatchiks with power try to enforce the notion that “all music must be instantly comprehensible and pleasing to the masses” Yet at the same time Soviet leaders from Stalin on down expect a new Beethoven to emerge from their glorious system In his youth the Revolution had indeed inspired Shostakovich with the vison that all the arts “would form a dynamic partnership not just reflecting society or criticizing or satirising it but making it” Soon he recognized this as fantasy He could understand how it came to be that writers were tapped by the powers that be as “the engineers of human souls” Yet for him music was apolitical Those that have ears will hearDespite the former allure of Lenin’s words he holds this aesthetic in his heart Art belongs to everybody and nobody Art belongs to all time and no time Art no belongs to the People and the Party than it once belonged to the aristocracy and the patron Art is the whisper of history heard above the noise of timeTo gain the freedom to continue creating music he eventually succumbs to the pressure to join the Communist Party and accrue glory to the Soviet Union in trips to Europe At one point he is forced to denounce the exiled Stravinsky in a scripted speech a man whose work he long admired He only cares about his music and his wife and family As he goes through the motions to allow these things he loves to continue he finds his mind dwelling in irony as a foil to the dangers and the absurdities of the society around him To be Russian was to be pessimistic; to be Soviet was to be optimisticBarnes conveys well the anguish and near madness of Shostakovich at the beginning of the story The scene is of a man waiting to be interrogated one who waits night after night with a suitcase in the hall to spare his family All the while his mind flits from memory to memory like musical counterpoint some dark some light Like his emotional careening between hope and despair when he first met his future wife It was if he was always on the wrong metronome setting Late in his career when the terrors of the successive totalitarian regimes begin to lighten some people consider him courageous in his ability to survive He knows better Perhaps courage was like beauty A beautiful woman grows old she sees only what has gone; others see only what remains Some congratulate him on his endurance his refusal to submit The solid core beneath the hysterical surface He saw only what was goneI have no way of predicting if any of my Goodreads friends might enjoy this book given its limited plot elements and conventional drama with emotional hooks Maybe my satisfaction with it has to do with my identification with this version of the composer based on my own slippery slide with integrity out of accommodation to outside forces during my mundane life Also I appreciated how the subtle surprises in the prose and restrained mode of presentation of disturbing situations left me with the kind of emotional impact you get from a great piece of music that builds on its themes

Julian Barnes ¾ 5 characters

A compact masterpiece dedicated to the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich Julian Barnes’s first novel since his best selling Man Booker Prize–winning The Sense of an Ending In Shostakovitch just thirty fears for his livelihood and his life Stalin hitherto a distant figure has taken a sudden interest in his work and denounced his latest opera Now certain he will be exiled to Siberia or likely executed on the spot Shosta. I am inherently drawn to Russian literature or even books set in Russia written by non Russian authors Perhaps it is because the majority of my ancestors come from Russia but regardless of the reason I devour most Russo centric books that I read As I have read through my goodreads friends year end reviews I came across The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes a novella based on the life of famed composer Dmitri Shostakovich Having read Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien earlier this year which featured Shostakovich's music I had my interest piued to read this modern novel And as has been the case with the other books I have read set in Russia or the Soviet Union this year I was not disappointedJulian Barnes is a respected post modern novelist from London His books have been nominated for the Man Booker award three times and The Noise of Time should follow in suit Barnes sets out to piece together Shostakovich's life in three parts or eras pre Stalin the Stalin purge era and the post Stalin Khruschev era Each part of the book takes place in vignettes of Shostakovich's memory set in twelve year periods The composer points out from the book's beginning that during each leap year 1936 1948 1960 he was destined for bad luck This could be in the form of close relatives dying critics denouncing his music as subversive or the government targeting the composer as an enemy of the state Shostakovich despite being revered lived his life in constant fear until Stalin's death as he believed that the government wanted to dispose of him as it had of many artists who had spoken out against the state As a result despite composing nine symphonies Shostakovich did not have an easy lifeToday Shostakovich is regarded in both the west and the Soviet Union yet during Stalin's reign of terror the composer was targeted as both subversive He would have been the regime's biggest catch if he joined the party and head of the union of composers but Shostakovich viewed this as a fate worse than death Yet Stalin himself appreciated the composer's symphonies and for the most part left him alone even if his henchmen did not Shostakovich was never deported or forced to do labor in a gulag as did many famed Russian composers and authors He was considered untouchable yet Barnes can not pinpoint exactly why Stalin and his cronies left him alone Perhaps because his music was regarded in China the Soviets' ally or because after Stravinsky defected to the west that Shostakovich was the top Soviet composer left and the state would be devoid of its top musician should the communists deport or denounce himFrom reading Barnes' work it is clear that he is a gifted writer It is also clear that he has studied Russian literature in depth as he has cited Pasternak Solzhenitsyn and Pushkin in this slim volume That Barnes is from the west and has studied previous biographies written on Shostakovich it is clear that he has a deep appreciation for the musician's work and his history within the communist historical context In each of the three parts of this book a recurring theme is the survival of the noise of time who will outlive the government of the day who will submit to politicians' wishes who will be their own person who will continue to create masterpieces despite the threat of censure of socialists and communists alike Today Putin has lauded Shostakovich's work as being central to the history of Russian music whereas during the composer's life he lived in fear of Stalin Khruschev and all the government officials of his day It is clear that Shostakovich has survived the noise of timeI found this slim autobiographical novel to be full of excellent post modern prose as well as realistic information about Shostakovich's life It has been well researched and Barnes' words flow on the pages like Shostakovich's symphonies For me it is always a treat to read Russo centric novels and I Barnes' short gem is probably the last one I read this year so it was a wonderful find for me here on goodreads I am inclined to listen to Shostakovich's third symphony that was spoke of many times in the other musical book I read this year as finishing this novella I desire of the composer's work I will definitely be reading of Barnes' work a well in the future as his books I can tell are a treat for literary aficionados5 stars