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DictArt Clash: Harmony vs Tyranny
DictArt Clash: Harmony vs Tyranny

Wed, Mar 20


New York

DictArt Clash: Harmony vs Tyranny

Three novels about artists' reflections of self and time...

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Time & Location

Mar 20, 2024, 6:30 PM EDT

New York, 7 E 95th St, New York, NY 10128, Stati Uniti

About The Event

Recently, I’ve found myself pondering the current situation in Russia, haunted by the question: What would I do if faced with such choices, both as an individual and as an artist? Would I seek to immigrate, or would I attempt to reconcile and feign normalcy to avoid trouble? Perhaps delving into history, particularly into the harrowing eras of Stalin and Hitler, could offer some insight.

When I reflect on how artists coped with adversity in the past, figures like Wilhelm Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, Dmitri Shostakovich, Maria Yudina, Sviatoslav Richter, and others come to mind. While some may have seen them as merely adapting, Shostakovich and Yudina, the heroes of our concert, demonstrated that true independence of an artist may lie in his/her artistic integrity. Despite limitations and risks, they remained faithful to their beliefs, navigating a delicate balance between their artistic expression and survival.

Another question arises: why does art seem more significant to us in the most difficult, tragic, and frightening times? For instance, just listen to recordings of Furtwängler during World War II, or Mravinsky performing Shostakovich in 1943 or Vaclav Talich in Czechoslovakia in 1938. We feel that their music transcends the boundaries of music itself and gives birth to a sense of necessity and breathing of that ideal which shakes us to the depths of our soul. So, do we change during disasters? Do we seek solutions and hope? Or does art become different?

Alternatively, why is it that in times of "peace and democracy," the role of art seems to be reduced to spicing our dull lives with entertainment or becoming a product of the elite and chosen few? I believe that every great artist, for example, Shostakovich, found their way to remain true to themselves, even when, from a propaganda standpoint, they had to make terrible compromises. Take, for example, his piano quintet, which we are going to perform. It was born out of a desire to whitewash himself from attempting to write for the people, as he was so often asked to! Shostakovich, as a diligent student, tries to imitate the style of the great (and safe!) Bach, rather than speaking in an "unintelligible" language for the people! And what happened? Despite all his efforts, Shostakovich’s artistic instincts remained predominant, and he remained a reflection of his time (while receiving the Stalin Prize as a security deposit). He could not betray his true self, although perhaps he adapted public appearances to ensure his creative freedom.

Maria Yudina is another example. Her bold act of sending a critical letter to Stalin showcases the power of music amid authoritarianism. Stalin’s appreciation for her playing raises another intriguing question about the judgment of inhumane leaders. Can despots also possess good taste, as Hitler did with Furtwängler and Stalin with Sofronitsky, Gilles, and Yudina? These questions underscore the complex interplay between art, politics, and human nature.

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