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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 16:16 GMT
Home sought for composer's works
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich died in 1975
A new home is being sought for thousands of recordings and manuscripts of the works of renowned Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

The collection was owned by conductor Roman Matsov, a close collaborator of Shostakovich.

The recordings are stacked in the Estonian apartment where Matsov lived before his death in 2001, aged 84.

Matsov's son, Mark, is having trouble paying rent on the flat and fears the collection could lose its home.

Close bond

Yevgeny Pasternak, son of Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Boris Pasternak, warned that if the archive was not saved "one of humanity's most important cultural legacies will perish".

Shostakovich is considered one of the greatest symphonists of the 20th Century.

He produced a varied output of works, including symphonies, concertos, chamber music, ballets, operas, cantatas and oratorios and many instrumental and vocal works.

But Shostakovich feared being silenced by dictator Josef Stalin and his comrades, who were intent on having Soviet artists produce optimistic works that reflected positively on their state.

Mark Matsov
Mark Matsov said the archive will throw new light on the works

Shostakovich and Matsov formed a close bond when they first met in 1927.

Mark Matsov said that his father's distance from Moscow meant the pair could circumvent state censors.

Shostakovich asked Matsov to perform his works in the Estonian capital Tallinn within days of their debuts in Moscow and Leningrad in case the authorities banned the compositions.

"What does every composer need more than anything? A conductor," said Mark Matsov.

Leon Botstein, music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, said the material could yield interesting insights into the composer's expectations for his own works.

"Shostakovich was such a complicated case - he was in favour, he was out of favour. This was changing all the time," he said.

Shostakovich produced two of his most renowned works, the Seventh (the Leningrad) and Eighth Symphonies, during World War II.

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