Shostakovich Lightens Up
Donations: $10 / $5 Students
[The Soviet Arts Experience]
No other major composer of the twentieth century devoted more of his career to film music than Dmitri Shostakovich. Altogether he composed scores to over 36 films, from New Babylon (1929) to King Lear (1970). An intensely introspective person, Shostakovich’s composition are considered “heavy,” full of turmoil and political symbolism. However, film scoring gave the Russian composer a reason to lighten up. Listeners and critics describe his film works as riveting, beautifully light, accessible, and sensitive.
Film critic and historian Philip Kemp offered this sentiment on the three excerpted scores performed on the evening’s program:
“The Gadfly , a period swashbuckler set in Austrian-occupied Italy, inspired one of his most tuneful and approachable scores, including a Romance that became something of a popular hit as theme music for the British TV serial Reilly, Ace of Spies.
The sparse textures and sombre tones of Shostakovich’s late style colour his scores for Kozintsev’s two powerful Shakespeare films, Hamlet and King Lear . Hamlet is full of obsessive, driving rhythms, punctuated by fierce outbursts of percussion, while passages of high skittering woodwind suggest mental disturbance. The music for Lear is even darker, with slow rumbling brass chorales reflecting the inexorable disaster overtaking king and country alike. Both scores do full justice to Kozintsev’s epic conception of the plays, and bring Shostakovich’s career as a film composer to an impressive conclusion.”
See the film, then hear it live! On Thursday, January 27, the Film Studies Center will screen “King Lear” at 7 pm. (Film Studies Center, Cobb 307, 5811 S. Ellis Avenue. Online reservations: filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu)