Re-examining the warhorse
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Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”) has a unique history in its topicality and reception. It received rave reviews in the Soviet Union, but once the score reached Western shores, music critics were skeptical from the outset. Their discussions concerned a wide variety of aesthetic, social, and political implications, but comment on the music was negligible. Not only was there a lack of depth to their musical arguments, but also a disregard of movements Two, Three, and Four. My thesis will provide a survey of the symphony’s reception outside of the Soviet Union, with antithetical Russian opinions included intermittently as a point of contrast. A detailed examination of the issues espoused by critics in America as well as the absence of musical considerations in their discourse provides a framework for my own investigation into the music of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, wherein a deeper insight into its construction and the processes of opposition and distortion will be provided.