Secret Music Skirmishes of the Cold War: The Shostakovich Case

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | 7:30pm

Only in recent decades has it become known that the CIA covertly funded a Cold War cultural war against the Soviet Union. A frequent target was Shostakovich, portrayed as a Soviet stooge shackled by Socialist Realism. Meanwhile, JFK gave speeches insisting that the arts can only flourish in “free societies.”

Looking back on the 1950s and 60s, we can see that it was Shostakovich—not Stravinsky or Schoenberg in the West—who was composing enduring masterpieces. His Preludes and Fugues for piano, inspired by Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier, arguably mark the terminus of a keyboard canon beginning with Scarlatti and Bach.

The central anecdote: Nicolas Nabokov, heading the CIA effort, publicly humiliated Shostakovich at a 1949 press conference in New York City. Nabokov asked Shostakovich if he stood behind his denunciations of Stravinsky, Bartok, and Schoenberg. Shostakovich had to say yes.

PostClassical Ensemble presents
Benjamin Pasternack, piano
Ashley Smith as President John F. Kennedy
Commentary by former CIA Staff Historian Nicholas Dujmovic

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Sonata No. 2 (1943)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Preludes and Fugues (1950-52)

  • Admission
  • Dates Offered
    • May 23, 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Notifications
    • Tickets available July 15