Barnes writes on page 125 (edition published by Jonathan Cape): What
could be put up against the noise of time? Only that music which is
inside ourselves – the music of our being – which is transformed
some into real music. Which, over decades, if it is strong and true
and pure enough to drown out
noise of time,
transformed into the whisper of history.
a beautiful book, beautifully researched and written. There
is nothing in the early part of the book that indicates that the book
Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich;
is information that appears piece by piece, until the reader says:
“Why, of course… ”
upon a number of biographies of the composer, The
Noise of Time
is not itself a biography, even
though it follows a rough timeline from birth to death.
many ways it is a painting of Shostakovich where his emotions and his
vital essence take priority over dates and happenings. It is this
presentation that makes the book so special and so readable.
is a gifted composer, for whom music is everything,
up in a society that has lost its soul. He
watches while other creative people are exiled to camps or executed,
and he awaits the knock on the door that will lead to the same fate
for himself. Bit by bit he learns that the truthful expression of his
innermost emotions will only lead
to annihilation. In the end he compromises.
compromise that is the most difficult thing Shostakovich has done. He
is no longer being completely truthful to the creative force within
him, but the alternative does not bear thinking about. Some may see
him as a coward, but opting to reconcile two opposing forces – his
own creative nature and the Soviet State – Shostakovich must
be given due praise.
fears, his love of music, his frustration with the State and the
people administrating it weave together to give us the portrait of a
man filled with the
boundlessness of music but also with many regrets
a book worth reading.
The photo of Julian Barnes above is from HeadStuff