Shostakovich playing his own piano concerto no. 2 (excerpt)
I’ve always had resistance to modernism, but with Shostakovich it was love at first sight. Make that sound. I knew immidiately that this was an honest composer, uninterested in fitting his music to a genre or movement.
He can be warm, he can be harsh. There’s not two sides to Shoastakovich, but hundreds. Withering sarcasm, voice of the people, musician of the coffin (string quartet 13). Living under the Stalinist regime must have challenged the composer’s expression constantly, as if that deep well of feeling was not inspiration enough.
Great composers are not people who can arrange clever sequences of notes together. Great composers feel things deeply, and express those thoughts and feelings through their music. That is absolutely the case for every one of the six geniuses represented on this course. It is their ability to think and feel deeply that makes them to create great work. Their super-human musical ability just allows that expression to happen.
Great composers also defy instant catagorization. Or rather, each of these composers sits in a category of their own. Wonderful skill, every one. But above all, honesty of feeling and clarity of thought. I hope just a bit of the music on this course has given you as much happiness as it has me over many years.