Photograph Signed by Shostakovich
No Place. No Publisher. 1962.
A black and white gelatin silver photograph 120mm by180mm. Signed to the front by Shostakovich. A fascinating photograph of the greatest composer of the the Twentieth Century, taken in the Moscow apartment of Tikhon Khrennikov by Khrennikov's wife Klara. Shostakovich appears to be enjoying himself immensely in the company of the French composer Henri Sauguet in the home of the person many regarded as his arch enemy. Khrennikov as described in his Daily Telegraph obituary the "despotic" First Secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers. "An acolyte of Stalin's who terrorised the country's leading composers - Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturian and Alfred Schnittke among them - while claiming to protect them." In 1948, Stalin personally picked him to lead the Union of Soviet Composers. His first job was to attack abstract, "formalist" music in a speech at the First Congress of Composers in 1948, two months after the infamous Resolution of the Central Committee that condemned the "formalism" of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others. "Enough of these symphonic diaries - these pseudo-philosophic symphonies hiding behind their allegedly profound thoughts and tedious self-analysis," he proclaimed. "Armed with clear party directives, we will stop all manifestations of formalism and popular decadence." In the next few years, Shostakovich composed three categories of work: film music to pay the rent, official works aimed at securing official rehabilitation, and serious works "for the desk drawer". The latter included the Violin Concerto No. 1 and the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry. The year this photograph was taken Shostakovich joined the Communist Party which many saw as an act cowardice. On the other, his son recalled that the event reduced Shostakovich to tears, and he later told his wife Irina that he had been blackmailed.