Vladimir Ashkenazy

We had the amazing experience this evening of hearing Vladimir Ashkenazy talk about the experience of musicians through the aftermath of the Russian Revolution:  how Tchaikovsky remained acceptable throughout;  Rachmaninov was removed from the repertoire when he emigrated to the United States, after leaving on a sled for Finland in December 1917, but reinstated after he expressed support for Russia in the early years of the second world war;  and Shostakovitch fell from favour after being attacked by Pravda for his Lady Macbeth.   All of this is doubtless familiar to musical historians;  but sounds different when described by someone who himself had difficulties with the Soviet authorities.

Then he played.


7 thoughts on “Vladimir Ashkenazy

  1. Sue Benjamins says:

    How wonderful to have this opportunity to hear Ashkenazy play and hear about his life. Am I dreaming….or is it possible that he was touring England in 1972? I think I had the privilege of hearing him play at a small concert at Stamford Arts Centre, Lincs, that year. He was the sole performer and it was a wonderful programme — Rachmaninov and other greats. (You will not be surprised that I do not have recall of the exact items! That was anyway a traumatic year for me but this concert was definitely a high spot.) If you tell me it was impossible, and I imagined it, then so be it but reading his biography it seems plausible.

  2. Kate Woodhead says:

    You might find Julian Barnes’ novel The Noise of Time about Shostakovitch’s life under Stalin interesting – if rather depressing.

  3. Shostakovich, after Lady Macbeth, came under huge political pressure (more, I suspect, than the painters and sculptors of the period) and only managed to recover himself with his Quartets and the great Quintet.

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