Elizabeth Wilson


Mena Mark Hanna


Approximate running time: 1h 30m without intermission

Art Tongue-tied by Authority:
Power and Subversion in Soviet Musical Culture

In English with simultaneous German translation.

Elizabeth Wilson explores Soviet music through Shostakovich, the Soviet Union’s first “home-grown” composer. His position in the limelight—or as scapegoat—was anxiously observed by his contemporaries as an indication as to which way the winds of ideology were blowing. As an artist working under dictatorship, Shostakovich’s very survival necessitated some form of compromise. However, compromise comes in many guises, and Shostakovich soon became a master of “double-speak,” conveying multi-layered meanings in his music. It was his understanding of the power of subversion that allowed him in some way to counteract Stalinist’s repressive cultural ideology. At the intersection of these forces is Shostakovich’s setting of Pasternak’s translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 66 during the bleakest years of Stalinism:

And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,
And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone


In English with simultaneous German translation. Headphones will be provided. A valid photo ID (or alternatively € 20) must be presented as a security deposit.

In addition to lectures and music, the exhibition Dry, featuring works by photographer Abdo Shanan, will be on view during the Edward W. Said Days in the foyer of the Barenboim-Said Akademie.