New course: ‘The String Quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich’

(image: wikipedia)

In the spirit of sharing syllabi and teaching materials, I’m making the overview of my new module publicly available.

Beginning January 2022, I’ll be teaching a new module at Royal Holloway (well, technically a revived one, from maybe 10 years ago), on Shostakovich’s String Quartets. Over 10 weeks, students will engage with these 15 pieces in depth.

As there is such an intense field of contextual study around Shostakovich, this module will have a heavy focus on analysis and interpretation. While historical context will be an important part of the course, the majority of the time will be spent reading analyses and carrying out individual interpretations of scores.

There will also be a guest seminar with a performer from a world-leading ensemble, internationally renowned for their interpretations of Shostakovich’s Quartets: (details and arrangements in the process of being confirmed at the moment!)

This is still a work in progress, of course (there are some weeks where I still need to source suitable readings, for instance) – and it may very well change, if I get the chance to teach it again some time in the future.

MU2298/MU3298 Shostakovich Quartets

Syllabus/reading list

Week 1 – Overview, introduction, Quartet 1

Judith Kuhn, ‘The String Quartets: In Dialogue with Form and Tradition’ in Fairclough & Fannings (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Shostakovich.

Katerina Clark, ‘Shostakovich’s Turn to the String Quartet the Debates about Socialist Realism in Music’, Slavic Review, 72/3 (2013), 573-589.

Week 2 – Quartets 2 and 3 (Piano Quintet)

Patrick McCreless, ‘Music Theory and Historical Awareness’, Music Theory Online, 6/3 (2000).

Stephen C. Brown, ‘Tracing the Origins of Shostakovich’s Musical Motto’, Intégral, 20 (2006), 69-103.

Week 3 – Quartets 4-5

Patrick McCreless, ‘A Curiosity in the Early Quartets of Shostakovich, and its precedents in previous works’, in Inessa Bazayev and Christopher Segall (eds), Analytical Approaches to 20th-Century Russian Music (New York: Routledge, 2020). 

Stephen C. Brown, ‘Axis Tonality and Submediant in the Music of Shostakovich’ Music Theory Online, 15/2 (2009).

Week 4 – Quartets 6+7

Sarah Reichardt Ellis, ‘Retheorising the End: Sonata Structures and Morphological Form in Shostakovich’s String Quartet Finales’, Music Analysis, 39/3 (2019), 297-315.

Robert Rival, ‘The Comfort of Denial: Metre, Cyclic Form, and Narrative in Shostakovich’s Seventh String Quartet’, Twentieth-Century Music, 6/2 (2009), 209-235.

Week 5 – Quartet 8

Fanning, Quartet 8, introduction

Week 6 – Quartets 9 + 10

Sarah Reichardt, ‘The indivisible remainder: novelisation in the 9th Quartet’, in Composing the Modern Subject.

Week7 – Quartets 11+12

Stephen C. Brown, ‘Twelve-tone rows and Aggregate Melodies in the Music of Shostakovich’, Journal of Music Theory, 59/2 (2015), 191-234.

Hans Keller, ‘Shostakovich’s Twelfth Quartet’, Tempo, 94 (Autumn 1970), 6-15.

Stephen C. Brown, ‘ic1/ic5 Interaction in the Music of Shostakovich’, Music Analysis, 28/2-3 (2009), 185-220.

Week 8 – Quartets 13+14

Week 9 – Quartet 15

Richard N. Burke, ‘Film, Narrative, and Shostakovich’s Last Quartet’, The Musical Quarterly, 83/3 (1999), 413-429.

Week 10 – Legacy/revision

General Reading list

Bazayev, Inessa, and Segall, Christopher (eds), Analytical Approaches to 20th-Century Russian Music (New York: Routledge, 2020). [to purchase]  

Blago, D. D., Wehrmeyer, Andreas, and Kuhn, Ernst (eds), Schostakowitschs Streichquartette: Ein internationals symposium (Berlin: E. Kuhn, 2002).

Brown, Malcolm H., A Shostakovich Casebook (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004).

Brown, Stephen C., ‘Tracing the Origins of Shostakovich’s Musical Motto’, Intégral, 20 (2006), 69-103.

  •  ‘Axis Tonality and Submediant in the Music of Shostakovich’ Music Theory Online, 15/2 (2009).
  • ‘ic1/ic5 Interaction in the Music of Shostakovich’, Music Analysis, 28/2-3 (2009), 185-220.

– ‘Twelve-tone rows and Aggregate Melodies in the Music of Shostakovich’, Journal of Music Theory, 59/2 (2015), 191-234.

Burke, Richard N., ‘Film, Narrative, and Shostakovich’s Last Quartet’, The Musical Quarterly, 83/3 (1999), 413-429.

Clark, Katerina, ‘Shostakovich’s Turn to the String Quartet the Debates about Socialist Realism in Music’, Slavic Review, 72/3 (2013), 573-589.

Druzhinin, Fedor, Memoirs (trans. Emily Finer) (Moscow: Museum Graeco-Latinum, 2015). [to purchase].

Dubinsky, Rostislav, Stormy Applause: Making Music in a Worker’s State (London: Hutchinson, 1989). [to purchase].

Dyer, Paul Eugene, ‘Cyclic Techniques in the String Quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich’ (unpublished PhD thesis), Florida State University, 1977.

Elphick, Daniel, ‘Weinberg, Shostakovich, and the Influence of Anxiety’, The Musical Times, 155/1929 (2014), 49-62.

– Music Behind the Iron Curtain: Weinberg and his Polish Contemporaries (Cambridge University Press: 2019)

– ‘Boris Asafiev and Soviet Musical Thought: Reputation and Influence’, Muzikologija/Musicology (Journal of the Institute of Musicology SASA), 30/1, 2021, 57-74. Available here: https://www.dais.sanu.ac.rs/handle/123456789/11659

– ‘Shostakovich’s Musical Expression: Towards a De-Historicised Understanding’, in Jürgen Stolzenberg (ed.), Ausdruck in der Musik: Theorien und Formationen (Munich: edition text + kritik, 2021) 418-437.

Fairclough, Pauline (ed.), Shostakovich Studies 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

– (with David Fanning) (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Shostakovich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Critical Lives: Dmitry Shostakovich (Reaktion Books: 2019) [to purchase; key text – multiple copies required]

Fanning, David (ed): Shostakovich Studies (Cambridge University Press, 1995) 

Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 (Ashgate: Farnham, 2004).

Fay, Laurel, ‘The Last Quartets of Dmitrii Shostakovich: A Stylistic Investigation’ (unpublished PhD thesis), Cornell University, 1978.

Shostakovich: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Glikman, Isaak, Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman 1941-1975 (trans. Anthony Phillips) (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Golianek, Ryszard Daniel, ‘The Types of Musical Dramaturgy in Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartets’, in Blago, D. D., Wehrmeyer, Andreas, and Kuhn, Ernst (eds), Schostakowitschs Streichquartette: Ein internationals symposium (Berlin: E. Kuhn, 2002), 101-120.

Keller, Hans, ‘Shostakovich’s Twelfth Quartet’, Tempo, 94 (Autumn 1970), 6-15.

Kuhn, Judith, Shostakovich in Dialogue: Form, Imagery and Ideas in Quartets 1-7 (Ashgate: Farnham, 2010)

Lesser, Wendy, Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and his Fifteen Quartets (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2011). [to purchase]

Mason, Colin, ‘Form in Shostakovich’s Quartets’, The Musical Times, 103/1434 (1962) 531-533.

Matalaev, Maria (ed), Valentin Berlinsky: A Quartet for Life (London: Kahn & Averill, 2018). [to purchase]

McCreless, Patrick, ‘Music Theory and Historical Awareness’, Music Theory Online, 6/3 (2000).

– ‘Shostakovich’, in Evan Jones (ed.), Intimate Voices: The Twentieth-Century String Quartet, Volume 2: Shostakovich to the Avant-Garde (Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press, 2009). [to be digitised]

– ‘A Curiosity in the Early Quartets of Shostakovich, and its precedents in previous works’, in Inessa Bazayev and Christopher Segall (eds), Analytical Approaches to 20th-Century Russian Music (New York: Routledge, 2020). [to be digitised]

Raaben, Lev, Sovetskaya kamerno-instrumental’naya muzïka [Soviet chamber instrumental music] (Leningrad: Muzgiz, 1963). [in Russian language: DE to supply scan to any Russian-speakers].

Reichardt, Sarah, Composing the Modern Subject: Four String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich (Ashgate: Farnham, 2008).

– (as Sarah Reichardt Ellis) ‘Retheorising the End: Sonata Structures and Morphological Form in Shostakovich’s String Quartet Finales’, Music Analysis, 39/3 (2019), 297-315.

Rival, Robert, ‘The Comfort of Denial: Metre, Cyclic Form, and Narrative in Shostakovich’s Seventh String Quartet’, Twentieth-Century Music, 6/2 (2009), 209-235.

Taruskin, Richard, ‘How to Win a Stalin Prize: Shostakovich and his Piano Quintet in G-minor (1940)’, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, 50/1-2 (2019), 19-46.

Wilson, Elizabeth, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 2nd edition(London: Faber, 2006).

The following site is a very useful overview of Shostakovich’s quartets: http://www.quartets.de/

Other composers of interest:

Bartók

Myaskovsky

Shebalin

Roslavets

Prokofiev

Ustvolskaya

Gubaidulina

Weinberg

Schnittke

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