Musical resistance against cultural repression in the Soviet Union: a comparative study of the Prokofiev Violin Sonata in F minor Op.80 and Shostakovich Violin Sonata in G minor Op.134

Alice Pratt Brown Hall

Speaker: Yena Lee Doctoral Candidate Thesis Defense Department: Shepherd School of Music Location: Alice Pratt Brown Hall Online

This study presents the political climate of the Soviet Union from Josef Stalin’s 1932 Resolution through the cultural “Thaw” of the 1960s. The two great titans, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, were persecuted and branded as enemies of the people due to accusations of exercising decadent formalist concepts and writings under several oppressive political regimes. During the inevitable government stringencies, both composers utilized their personal idioms as a form of resistance to define the essence of musical integrity. Chapter 1 discusses the pre-Stalin and post-Stalin resolutions issued by the Communist Party and its impact on both composers, a history of both composers’ denunciations, and circumstances surrounding the compositions of the two violin sonatas. Chapter 2 examines the unique compositional methods exercised in both violin sonatas: “chromatic displacement” and “free” dodecaphony. Chapter 3 provides comparative analyses of the Prokofiev sonata op.80 and Shostakovich sonata op.134 and their use of structural forms, characteristics, and styles in relation to the methods demonstrated in the previous chapter. Lastly, Chapter 4 reviews the contribution of both sonatas to the twentieth-century violin repertoire. Considering that the works are highly personal and introspective, an original interpretation is required from all violinists. Chapter 4 also examines interpretative possibilities of both sonatas by live performance recordings of David Oistrakh, the dedicatee of both sonatas, as well as my personal interpretative suggestions. (Department : Shepherd School of Music)