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Music behind the Iron Curtain
Weinberg and his Polish Contemporaries


Part of Music in Context

  • Date Published: October 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108493673

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About the Authors
  • Mieczysław Weinberg left his family behind and fled his native Poland in September 1939. He reached the Soviet Union, where he become one of the most celebrated composers. He counted Shostakovich among his close friends and produced a prolific output of works. Yet he remained mindful of the nation that he had left. This book examines how Weinberg's works written in Soviet Russia compare with those of his Polish contemporaries; how one composer split from his national tradition and how he created a style that embraced the music of a new homeland, while those composers in his native land surged ahead in a more experimental vein. The points of contact between them are enlightening for both sides. This study provides an overview of Weinberg's music through his string quartets, analysing them alongside Polish composers. Composers featured include Bacewicz, Meyer, Lutosławski, Panufnik, Penderecki, Górecki, and a younger generation, including Szymański and Knapik.

    • Introduces Weinberg's music, and its key elements, to a wide readership (both specialists and readers without specialized training), with a special focus on string quartets
    • Illustrates the complex trajectory of Polish-Soviet cultural relations with case studies and translations of previously unpublished articles
    • Features interviews with key composers, like Szymański and Meyer, and introduces many others as yet unfamiliar to non-specialists
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Elphick's fascinating book is the product of a long and deep engagement with Weinberg's life and work, essential reading for anyone wishing to understand him, and an answer for those who might wonder why this undoubted genius has been so unfairly neglected.' Mark Glanville, Classical Music

    'This sheds new light on Weinberg by exploring the tangled political context surrounding the reception of his work … Elphick's writing style remains consistently engaging, and draws upon an impressively wide range of documentary sources to illuminate his arguments.' Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine

    'Blending lucid music analysis with careful contextualization, the study is a quietly ambitious first monograph from a significant new voice in Polish and Russian music scholarship.' Nicholas Reyland, The Slavonic and East European Review

    '… supplies interesting contexts for anyone interested in Weinberg's world.' John Allison, Opera Magazine

    'The powerful music and fascinating biography engagingly described by the author, make this book recommended reading for anyone interested in the music created behind the Iron Curtain.' Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska, Transposition

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108493673
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 252 x 180 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 13 tables 74 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Weinberg in Warsaw
    2. The war
    3. Socialist realism and socrealizm
    4. Avant-garde(s)
    5. Return and retreat
    6. Late style(s)

  • Author

    Daniel Elphick, Royal Holloway, University of London
    Daniel Elphick is a musicologist and researcher writing on East-European music and music analysis. He has published articles on Shostakovich and music analysis and is a regular speaker at international musicology and music analysis conferences. Daniel has taught at Royal Holloway, University of London and Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as the University of Manchester.

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