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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Shostakovich widow wants row to end
Dmitri Shostakovich
Shostakovich died from lung cancer on 25 September 1975
The widow of Dmitri Shostakovich has said it is time to forget about the controversy surrounding the composer's life and focus on his music, on the centenary of his birth.

Shostakovich, one of Russia's most celebrated composers, had a personal life that was frequently turbulent and his work was periodically banned by the governing Communist Party.

In 1962, aged 56, he married Irina Supinskaya, who was just 27. She was his third wife.

"It isn't the life of Shostakovich that was controversial - it was his music," Ms Supinskaya told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme.

"There were both supporters and opponents of his music, and that situation hasn't changed since then."

Russian icon

Shostakovich is regarded as a giant among 20th-Century symphonists.

He wrote his First Symphony in 1926 and did not join the Communist Party until 1960. He was twice officially denounced, and debate still rages over his relationships, with both the Party and the women he knew.

Joseph Stalin
Stalin denounced Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

A fierce debate still rages about the extent to which Soviet politics influenced his work - and whether his music contained anti-government messages.

Ms Supinskaya says that in his centenary year interest in her late husband's work has surged - and it is now time to put the controversy to rest.

"I am against the political dimension of Shostakovich," she said.

"The debate about him which existed is starting to disappear. To the new generation, it is just a reflection of the past, as his music is much broader and deeper than the situation which surrounded him."

'War of music'

Backing her is Shostakovich's long-term friend Betty Schwartz, whose biography of the composer is one of the numerous books released to coincide with the centenary.

"I did it to preserve those facts, thoughts, and events of his life - straight from the original sources," she said.

"I wanted to pass this on, before it disappears with me. Secondly - which is just as important - there are so many lies and wrong information, harmful rumours about Shostakovich, it has become a war of music.

"I want to bring down the stereotypes and wrong theories about him."

Meanwhile a small, tight-knit community of Shostakovich's friends, family and followers remains in Moscow.

Amongst them is Olga Dombrovskaya, director of the Shostakovich Centre. Her office is in the building where the composer lived for the last 13 years of his life.

She has spent more than 20 years analysing his work, reviewing the original manuscripts from the state archives as well as discovering new material.

And her husband, Manashir Yakubov, is now publishing these scores. He told The Ticket that he wants to give people "the definitive Shostakovich."

"It's impossible to understand the history of the 20th Century without the name of Shostakovich," he said.

"His music was so strong, it influenced not only the people of his time, but other people around the world."

A century of Shostakovich
25 Sep 06 |  Europe
Home sought for composer's works
31 Oct 04 |  Entertainment


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