Story of a Friendship Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitry Shostakovich wrote regularly to his close friend Isaak Glikman during their forty-year relationship from the early 1930s to the composer's death in 1975. The core of Chronicle of a Friendship is a collection of 288 of these letters starting in 1941, when both correspondents were evacuated from Leningrad. Earlier letters were destroyed during the siege of Leningrad; however, the chronological gap is more than compensated for by Glikman's detailed account, seen very much from the inside, of the main events in the composer's life during the turbulent 1930s, the height of Stalin's terror. The book amounts to a highly personal biography in which Glikman has used the authentic voice of Shostakovich in his letters as a catalyst for comprehensive explications and reminiscences. A portrait emerges of a complex and acutely sensitive personality, endowed with enormous moral integrity, humanity, compassion and a caustic, often self-deprecating sense of humour. The Chronicle is a treasury of facts about milestone events, dates of compositions, first performances and so on. But in its revelations of the deeper, tormented feelings of the composer's soul, especially in letters which reflect on his increasingly debilitating illnesses, his preoccupation with death, and the crippling artistic and moral consequences of living under an ideologically tyrannical regime, it is much more than that Chronicle of a Friendship was first published in Russian as Letters to a Friend in 1993. This is its first appearance in English.