Gresham College Lectures

The Year 1948 in Soviet Music

May 27, 2022 Gresham College
Gresham College Lectures
The Year 1948 in Soviet Music
Show Notes Transcript

In the aftermath of the Soviet war victory, ideological control was tightened again, contrary to expectations. The six leading Soviet composers (including Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Myaskovsky and Khachaturian) were censured and humiliated by a Party Resolution against 'formalism'. 

This is a story of necessary retreat and compromise, but also of resilience and survival, when even under great pressure, composers produced works of deep lyricism and humanity.

It will feature performances from:  Laura van der Heijden (cellist) and Petr Limonov (pianist).


A lecture by Marina Frolova-Walker

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:
https://www.gresham.ac.uk/watch-now/1948-music

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 2,000 lectures free to access or download from the website.

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- Dear friends. Welcome to the last lecture of Music Under Stalin. Today, the topic is the year 1948 in Soviet music. What's the significance of year 1948? You might remember the book by George Orwell, which is called "1984". And you might remember that it was written in 1948. So this dystopia came to him in his dreams in that year of 1948. And perhaps the events that I'm going to talk about today, also contributed yeah, to 1984 in some way, it was a very widely publicized musical debacle. One of the journalists who was president in Moscow in 1948, immediately wrote a book which is called "Musical Uproar in Moscow". And it became known all around the world what was happening to music in this communist country, and that even split the Western left, the Western artistic left because some of them, thought that Stalin was doing the right thing. And other people just couldn't understand how people like Shostakovich and Prokofiev could be denounced in this way. But today we're not going to talk about the international dimension so much, but going to talk about what was happening in detail in those first months of 1948 in the Soviet Union. So the main players, the players at the top are Stalin, and Andrei Zhdanov, Andrei Zhdanov was someone who became, he was positioned now after the war in charge of ideology. Yeah, so he his official position was head of the Department for Agitation and Propaganda of the central committee of the communist party. Yeah, so he was a party chief responsible for ideology, and the debacle in music didn't lead the way. From 1946, there was already this hardening of the ideological climate, very much against the expectations that people had, because as you might remember during the war, actually, the climate became slightly softer in terms of what was allowed in the arts. And there was a lot of cosmopolitanism because we were together with the allies. There was a lot of international relations being enjoyed and suddenly all of that came to an end in a very unexpected way. So first there was poetry and literature in 1946, including denunciation of, then theater. And then finally in 1948 came music. So it was a very strange excuse to start this campaign. It was an opera which is called "The Great Friendship". The opera was written by a composer called Vano Muradeli and the party resolution that eventually came out of all of that on the 10th of February, 1948 was called about The Great Friendship by Muradeli. But in fact, it was just an excuse. What was this opera, The Great Friendship, what was the reason for it being denounced? And again, we cannot believe what we see. We cannot believe what we hear. The opera, which had another name also, which is called The Extraordinary Commissar, was actually inspired by the real life story of Sergo Ordzhonikidze, who was a Bolshevik and a friend of Stalin, as you can see, who took charge of the expansion of the Soviet power to the caucuses, yeah. So during the Civil War, he was absolutely very important in all these trans Caucasian republics as bringing Bolshevisms there. And Muradeli, who was himself from the same town as Stalin. Yeah, he was from Gore and was trying to identify because of that as a Georgian, although actually he wasn't Georgian, he was ethnically Armenian, but he changed his name even yeah, to be more Georgian. And he thought, if I choose this plot about the establishment of Soviet power in the caucuses, Stalin is bound to like it. And everyone thought that too, yeah. So it was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Great October Revolution. It was produced a great expense in many opera houses at the same time. So it was a very, very safe bet, but you should never try to second guess the dictator, because actually Stalin secretly hated Ordzhonikidze, not many people knew about that. Ordzhonikidze actually committed suicide in 1937, just before he was about to be arrested. His brother was already arrested. So during the purges, but because he managed to commit suicide before he was arrested, yeah. He was buried with great pomp, and nobody knew about this private story. So probably the most important thing that annoyed Stalin about this opera was the plot, but he couldn't say this. Yeah, so instead he started talking about the music and that he disliked the music, that the music was chaotic and so on. Yeah. So this is the actual long resolution published in Prabda. And this is what was said about the music, yes. That the principle fault of this opera lie in the music, which is inexpressive and impoverished, does not contain a single memorable aria, chaotic, inharmonious, constructed largely from dissonances. And sonorities that offend the ear. So it was basically a rehashing of the criticisms that were experienced by Shostakovich and the other formalists in 1936. Now let us have a listen. And whether you would agree with this assessment, so this is one of the numbers and the opera. (gentle music) Yeah, so the Russian orientalist music, yeah. With this Eastern coloring, very, very melodic and nice. Another thing that the resolution said is that the composer failed to draw upon the riches of folk melody, the song and dance tunes that are to be found in such abundance among the peoples of the USSR. And there was a rumor that Stalin particularly disliked one of the dancers, which was the Lisgenka because it wasn't the Lisgenka, that he was familiar with. That the composer actually had the tumerity to write his own Lisgenka. So let's hear it. (upbeat music) And so on, yeah, I think it's still very tuneful, it has a few funny chords, but it's still very tuneful. So when this opera was proclaimed formalist, really people didn't know what to do. Composers were completely confused because if this is formalist, like what is left for us to do? How can we deal with these criticisms? So if we talk about the real reasons, yeah. The reasons behind the scenes of why this 1948 resolution happened, there are a few of them yeah, on different levels. So one of them was this ideological trend, which was anti-Western, anti cosmopolitan, instigated by Stalin and Zhdanov of after the war. And just was the way to kind of get rid of all the associations with the allies that were pursued during the war, yeah. And now again, go for isolation, the iron curtain, this was just before the Cold War actually officially started. Zhdanov also had a personal disdain towards everything that was remotely modernist. He was a fan of Russian classical music and Western classics, the 19th century. And he didn't really think that being original in the modernist way was in any way good. There was also an administrative reason, a power struggle reason because Zhdanov wanted to get rid of some people while this was all happening. For example, of the Minister of Culture, who was quite a powerful figure. So now that he got rid of him at that point, yeah. The party now controls the arts directly without the mediation of the state organizations, such as ministries. Then there was of course the power struggle in the composers union, because there are always people who would benefit from such an affair. Yeah. So there were composers who were previously overlooked. They thought that Prokofiev and Shostakovich were getting too many commissions that their friends which was the kind of material base of the union of composers, we're giving them too much money and so on, yeah. So they also wanted a piece of that pie. And then there was a sincere aesthetic dislike again of modernism among composers of a more traditional bent. So some of them wrote letters in support of the resolution just because they really believed in that. So what were the offending works that were chosen? So various works were quoted. Of course, Shostakovich's Symphony is starting from the eighth. Yeah, we're already experiencing various difficulties, number eight, number nine. So he was under criticism from around 1943. Sorry Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony was also seen as more gloomy and kind of more expressionist than his fifth. So he was also found to be on the wrong route. I wanted to show as an example, one offending piece, which is slightly different. It's a Cantata by Nikolai Myaskovsky which is called "Kremlin by Night". It is based on a poem, which was printed in official newspapers and then reprinted in various anthologies. So it was a completely safe poem to use. It portrayed Stalin working in his office during the night. This was kind of a legend or maybe the truth. You can see this poster from 1940, yeah. That shows him doing that. And it was all set up as a kind of fairy tale or a legend. And at some point, when the dawn is breaking, history, dressed as an old lady with keys, yeah. Jangling the keys, finds him there and says, you've been working too hard, go and have a rest, yeah. So a funny, kind of very unusual presentation of Stalin without any pomp, very lyrical. And I have no idea why Myaskovsky actually chose this poem. I cannot read into his mind. The poem is not very good, but maybe because it was something different, maybe because it allowed him an opportunity to write something that was not kind of officially vulgar and loud and yeah, and pompous and rather was lyrical. So he wrote this Cantata and let us hear a little bit of it. The moment when history comes and sort of basically sings a lullaby to him. (singing in foreign language) And immediately as it was performed in 1947, the criticism came out that it was mystical. Despite the text, was criticized despite having been approved before, because the text is one thing when it's printed, it's another thing when it's sung from the stage, it has more impact. So that was another offending work. Khachaturian's Symphony poem. Yeah, or his Third Symphony, which was criticized for being kind of extravagant and in this very strange style that really Khachaturian dared to break out of his national style and do something else. I mean, he can still hear the basics of his style there, but it sounds very different. It's very unusual symphony, which has an organ in it, and lots of trumpets, I think up to 17 or something if I'm not mistaken. Yeah, and it creates this very overwhelming sound. (upbeat music) So you can hear, yeah. That it's unusual and the symphony to have this organ solo and to have all these notes being added by new trumpets adding. Yeah, so you have a cord for many, many notes. Yeah, many of them, many more than should be allowed. So eventually we ended up in the Resolution with six named formalists. Yeah, the seventh was Muradeli, but Muradeli was very clever. And he immediately said, it's not my fault. It's professors of the conservator who told me to write in this way. I always wanted to write healthy, melodic music. Yeah, so he actually managed to escape very quickly. And it was these people who were named in the Resolution. This is the order in which they were named. Yes, which was not alphabetical. So you can assume that Shostakovich was the worst offender. Yeah, and Myaskovsky was the least offender. There was some of them like Popov for example, who was, probably his name was plugged out of thin air because he was supposed to replace, who managed to save himself at the last moment owing to his connections. Yeah, because to be named in such a resolution was obviously a very, very bad thing because this is how they're named. Yeah, the trend has found its fullest expression of the work of these composers whose music displays most strikingly formalist perversions and undemocratic tendencies. Now it's music that reflects the dementia of Bolshe culture was a complete negation of musical art at dead end. Very, very strong, much stronger actually than in 1936. Yeah, so you take six best composers of the country and say these things about them. And of course, then administrative measures followed three days later, there was a ban. This is only part of the list of the works they would ban for performance, only Shostakovich and Prokofiev here to save time. But you can see that it's not only those works that were identified in the process of the campaign, but also earlier works by the same composer. Such as even Aphorisms by Shostakovich, works from the twenties. Piano Sonata Number Eight by Prokofiev which actually won a Stalin prize. Yeah, so completely, yeah. And you can see that concert organizers of course always wanted on to the air on the side of caution. So they would not perform any works by these people. Yeah, so you can imagine what situation arose. So who benefited from it? Who were the people who were the beneficiaries? Well, some of them are here. We might recognize them, yeah. So on the right is, who was appointed General Secretary of the Union Composers and then remained in this position more than 40 years. Until the Soviet Union collapsed. And he was a composer of a more democratic outlook so to speak, democratic, more melodic outlook. Although he could write in his early works, lovely kind of modernist touches in it. But then he decided that wasn't a prudent thing to do. So he changed his style. Next to him is Valentin Levashov, who was the main conductor of the Pyatnitsky Choir the folk choir. So his folk style songs also got promoted. was more sort of heavier, more serious composer, but he was a very old fashioned, yeah. And very classical. His music was almost sometimes indistinguishable from, again, somebody from the mighty in the 19th century. I always look in at things like awards. Yeah, because I wrote a book in the Stalin Prizes. So let's see what happened in 1948. What works could they award if the list of nominations was suddenly completely emptied, yeah. Who are you going to award? So they really had to dig very deep and they found a quartet by Reinhold, Glière, who was one of these conservative composers. And it was a quartet from 1943. So strictly speaking, actually not eligible for the award, but there was nothing else they could pick. And there were no symphonies that they could find, because there was such a fear, yeah, of awarding something that was too difficult, too intellectual. So let's hear, it's a lovely quartet. And it starts very clearly with a song. I don't know whether it's a folk song or a popular song. It even sounds like a Soviet song. (gentle music) It's so lovely music, got an award, but there were also people who nobody had heard before about, the names that were misspelled in the press because people were not familiar with them. So one of the people who got the top award, he has a 100,000 rubles, huge amount of money was Juozas Tallat-Kelpsa from Lithuania. And that of course was a very shrewd political move too. Yeah, because Lithuania joined the Soviet Union, joined, was of annexed before the war and then was readmitted when the war was won, yeah. In 1944 and Tallat-Kelpsa had kind of Russian, background in Russian educational system, he was actually studied in Petersburg earlier on, yeah. He was already not a young composer and he wrote a Stalin Contata based on a poem by Salomeja Neris. And that was a Lithuanian female poet who actually read it at the Congress, at the moment, yeah, when Lithuania joined the Soviet Union and that was the event in memorialized in the stamp, yeah. So it was a very political piece. So I don't have recording of it. But I've looked at it, you know, it's a professionally made piece. The interesting thing which Lithuanians have been telling me about is that Tallat-Kelpsa didn't live to enjoy the fruit of his success. He literally dropped dead during the rehearsal of this Contata. So you can imagine sort of the people who didn't support this collaboration of Litanian intelligence with Soviet regime kind of rejoiced, and felt that he was punished, but there were other people like another Lithuanian composer, Balys Dvarionas, who was young and very energetic, and he wrote this fantastic Virtioso Concerto, which they discovered in 1948, that also got a high award. And I will play you a little bit the finale, and you will recognize that, some of it sounds maybe a bit like Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, or just as Khachaturian's violin concerto, just based on kind of folk tunes from different folk. But there was a moment, there was a moment which sounds a bit funny there, kind of parallel fifths there or naked fifths, which sounds a bit more modernist. And that particular place was actually commented on, there was a fight among composers whether we should allow this to happen, this formalist bit in there, so listen out for that. (upbeat music) So some very good pieces were awarded. Yeah, but they were all quite conventional and had to be very life affirming, but there was also an extension, yeah, of these awards towards pieces that we might think of, towards more middle brow, low brow range. Yeah, so not intellectualist. But the opposite of that, for example, pieces for Folk Instruments Orchestra, which was a very Stalinist thing, very much part of the Soviet culture, they tried to Institute orchestras like that in every single Republic of the Soviet union. So this is a work that was awarded also in 1949, "Russian Fantasy" by Budashkin. (gentle music) And even going further, something that wasn't done very much in the first years of those awards, popular songs. Yeah, a composer like Boris Mokrousov for example, which really creates very much the sound of this late Stalinist years, to such an extent that it actually, as I recently found out, penetrated places like north Korean opera, this sound of late Stalinist years, that that can actually be heard in some of those pieces. (singing in foreign language) Interesting that a lot of these songs are very lyrical because now that yeah, the fight was over. They victorious in the war. They've built already socialism, yeah. So there was no conflict, there was a period, yeah, when you couldn't really talk about any conflict, there was lack of conflict. So you could just write these lovely lyrical songs, very melodic, interesting that himself actually didn't get very good awards because I think the hatred for him was so great among his peers, that didn't allow that to happen. But nevertheless, he was a very powerful figure. And certainly there was this new situation on all these composers. Such as Shostakovich and Prokofiev, were directly answerable to him. So it was under his command that repentance and comebacks were allowed to happen. I love this photograph of Prokofiev and his wife sitting in the first Congress of the Union of some Soviet composers in 1948, just a few weeks after the Resolution. Yeah and he looks incredibly kind of, what is going on, I think. And poor Prokofiev, who hadn't been as seasoned in this experiencing denunciation as Shostakovich was, really took it very badly and like Shostakovich, he had to issue a response. This time, yeah. Actual letter where he had to repent and said that he attempted to liberate himself from formalist elements, but succeeded to only some extent, not completely. Yeah, so there was this ritual humiliation, but then a very interesting thing happened that the harshest period of the 1948, 49 debacle, didn't actually last that long because Zhdanov died, Zhdanov died in August, 1948 and then principle, it could have ended there, because Stalin wasn't interested that much anymore in perpetuating this, but this time, it was and the peers who already got a bit of that pie who wanted to prolong this and enjoy humiliating composers like Shostakovich and Prokofiev. But it wasn't so easy, and the band that I showed you. Yeah, the list of works was overturned in the spring of 1949 already because Shostakovich was required, yeah, by Stalin to go and represent the country in the United States at the so-called World Conference for Peace. Yeah, so this is what he had to withstand. He again looks like rabbit in the headlights. Yeah, and there were protests, Shostakovich jump out of the window. He was in a very difficult situation. When this was offered to him by Stalin's secretary on the telephone, he had the presence of mind to say, well, how am I going to go if my music is not actually performed in this Soviet Union? And Stalin apparently said, well, how come we've never heard of such a thing? And the band was immediately overturned, so comebacks were happening slowly because composers had to show their willingness to reform their musical style. And well let's start with Shostakovich. Shostakovich in that year, 1949, wrote two pieces, which were basically dedicated to Stalin's 70th birthday, which you can see celebrated here, this huge painting yeah, created for this many of them. So it was a huge occasion and Shostakovich did thing that he had never done before. So one of these pieces was a film score for the Fall of Berlin. It's again, a kind of imagined ending to the war where Stalin flies to Berlin. He never did. But nevertheless, in this film he does and Stalin apparently quite like this. And you can hear when all this going on, the chorus written by Shostakovich, in the style of kind of Russian 19th century glory, opera, chorus to. Yeah, so it's exactly the same style. (singing in foreign language) (plane whirring) So he particularly like that actor because yeah, he was even more handsome than Stalin himself. So, and the second work was his Oratorial, which also had that chorus in and it was called Song of the Forests, and it was directly responding to Stalin's reforestation plan, yeah. You can see the poster about it, yeah. When he's trying to kind of plant all the forests that were, destroyed during the war. And to write this piece, Shostakovich basically denied himself almost any idioms that Shostakovich was known for, yeah. So it almost doesn't sound like Shostakovich, maybe that lovely, peaceful children's choir that everyone knows, and that apparently is incredibly popular in Japan maybe is an exception. (singing in foreign language) They're singing it in Russian. Apparently it's really, really, there's a history to it of why it is particularly popular in Japan. But anyway, it was also very popular with Soviet children. My father sang it, my father sang it to me, so everyone knew that, that became a real hit. And Prokofiev, who had much more trouble because he had a further setback when he was trying to produce a socialist realist opera, "Story of Real Man" in 1948 later on, and was denounced the second time for it. So it was very difficult for him to come back, especially that he was not at all well, so he produced a kind of imitation of that Shostakovich, also has a children's chorus on, even a child soloist, which is very interesting, and it's called On Guard For Peace. And really a lot of Prokofiev's friends were trying to help him, giving him advice on how to really sort of get the tone right. And again, how to kind of remove most of Prokofiev idioms from this piece. The interesting thing about it, I'm going to play it again, it became a hit and we sang it at school, but it's a recording from that time to which someone put also contemporaneous images, but posted it online just a few weeks ago. So it acquired new meaning, yeah, during the war, after Russian invasion of Ukraine, all words, all phrases that contain the word peace, yeah, become outlawed. So this is one of them. Yeah, so the text is that every school children, every school child is writing on the blackboard and in their notebooks, we don't need war. (gentle music) (singing in foreign language) Yeah, and again, what is Prokofievian about that lovely song, maybe one chord somewhere. So nevertheless, these composers did get gradually accepted back into the fold, even though the stress of those years certainly had an effect on them. Shebalin for example, had had a series of strokes. Khachaturian had health, heart trouble, Myaskovsky died of cancer very soon. Prokofiev also had strokes and was in very bad health. So they really kind of had trouble surviving that period. And during that period, we have a new phenomenon arising yeah. Arising from the desk drawer. Yeah, so waiting already, thinking that times might change. Yeah, like we are now hoping and waiting for something in Russia to change, we're just hoping for a miracle. So this is what Shostakovich was thinking as he was creating various works and not releasing them publicly, yeah. So for example, his Quartets number four and five, his Violin Concerto were written during that period. But didn't get premiered say until 1955. So, well after Stalin's death. And this little sheet is actually his sketch for a Lampoon of the 1948 debacle. Yeah, which is called The Anti-Formalist Rayok. I hope that you, you can explore that piece, at your leisure. I'll just mention that this was not written in 1948. It was too dangerous to commit anything like that to paper at that time. So that actually arises from 10 years later when that resolution was finally overturned. Kind of officially withdrawn, but it took 10 years, but nevertheless, talking about pieces written for The Drawer, I would like to play a piece by Galina Ustvolskaya who was Shostakovich's student, but also such an unusual, original, powerful composer that she actually possibly influenced Shostakovich much more than he did her. And I always thought when I heard this piece for the first time, it's her Octet, one of the eight instruments is actually the Timpani, a very unusual piece. And you think 1950, could this have been written on 1950? It just doesn't sound at all like a 1950 piece. I even thought that it was, she might have changed the dates later, but actually, Shostakovich quotes her trio in his fifth quartet at that time. So the piece did exist, this pieces didn't get premier until much later, late sixties and seventies. So let's hear. (upbeat music) Finally Stalin died in 1953. And after showing him of all these images of him alive, I really wanted to show you this, but can you think of any piece of music that commemorates Stalin, written on Stalin's death? Well, if you do know a piece like that, please write to me. I'll be happy to know. I've heard about one such piece. I decided not to pursue it because I thought, well, if I find it, do I really want it to be on earth? So why were there no pieces made public for Stalin's death? Because two weeks later, there was already a secret order throughout the ranks of the intelligence. We do not glorify Stalin anymore. It took two weeks and the whole big country changes its mind, yeah. Only two weeks before that, they were all tearful, marching, millions were marching to Stalin's funeral. There was a huge stamped in which lots of people died. Two weeks later, people were afraid to say his name and to say anything good about him. So things can change very quickly. But some composers of course didn't manage to survive him. And this is why our musical part today will be again from Prokofiev. I'll tell you about it in a moment. And just for a few minutes, I wanted to take time to draw some conclusions from the whole course, because if those of you who came to the first lecture, you might remember that I started with the idea that we're going to talk about this horrible time. And yet we love so much of this music that was written during this time. And how can we solve this conundrum? How can we explain it? So without being able to explain it fully, I would like to draw your attention to a few things. Yeah, so first of all, why did all these pieces, why were they able to appear at that time? Well, first of all, there was huge investment in music as high art, yeah. There were orchestras created, they were opera houses built, composers were well paid. There was talent scouting. There was music education developed in all the kind of little places, not just in Moscow and. Yeah, so there was this infrastructure built yeah, for music to exist as high art and to be prestigious and to be highly, highly subsidized. Then there was unusually, counterintuitively, the concept of individual creator, even genius was very much alive and well, it was very different from the communist China, which yeah, then tried to erase authorship altogether and wouldn't even put names of composers on the scores. This change happened in the early thirties, yeah. That it was like an American dream, yeah. Everyone in the Soviet Union could aspire to something. Yeah, and if they work well, if they distinguish themselves in some way, they could get higher salaries and lots of prestige. Yeah. So there was this hierarchy created, which also helped composers to compete with each other to aspire to good life basically. And they were helped and supported, despite everything that I've discussed here. And it seems that all these professional communities that existed, the unions, the artistic unions were just basically snake pits, yeah. And they were trying to destroy each other, but nevertheless, these communities did exist. They still had agency, yeah. They still had their say, they still defended very often what was good, what was aesthetically good. Not just ideologically good. And to a great extent, composers were validated and supported by these communities. Then this issue of art belongs to the people. I think this wasn't just a slogan and I think it, this propaganda really rubbed off both on the creators and on the audiences because the creators really were pushed by all these ideologic restrictions to write music that was for the people, yeah. Which was accessible, which had melodies, which had emotional journeys, narratives, which was kind of exciting and involving. And so on, melodic, we've heard some of these pieces today. And on the other hand, the audiences also thought that this music was for them. It is a very different situation. I always compare this with Britain when I arrived here and I realized I couldn't afford any concert or opera ticket suddenly. Yeah, I realized why we have this idea that high art belongs to the elite, it's for the rich. And a lot of people would just say, this is not for me. Opera is not for me. Concert hall is not for me. It wasn't like that, people really believed yeah, that they could go to a concert for almost nothing. Yeah, and if they didn't have even that small fair to pay, they would listen to the radio, yeah. So they really believe that if they wished, this high art could be theirs, it was theirs legitimately, so to speak. And finally, yeah, while we talk about this music, there was this promotion of music without the text, you notice that how Stalin pounced on operas yeah. Where there was text, but he didn't actually matter with the symphonies. Yeah, because it was much harder. So there was a space of freedom. The space of obscurity, where the messages were somehow muted, vague, mutable. Yeah, sometimes mixed messages and people, while listening to this music, could exercise their imagination. And it was possibly one of the very least regimented spaces in their lives, yeah. The world that you create in your head as you listen to a piece of such music. And I think for these reasons, we have those pieces that we still admire. And for us here in the west, and now speaking as a member of the audience who loves this music and who is living in the west, we are attracted also, yeah, just like people in the Soviet Union were, by music which is melodic, emotional, exciting, but it also comes from these very dark places, it comes from interesting times so to speak, it comes with very interesting biographies and sometimes dramatic and tragic biographies attached to them. And I think when we listen to these pieces, we are trying to kind of expand our experience vicariously and experience things we will, thankfully, hopefully we'll never experience ourselves. And I think we believe perhaps it's a mistakened belief, that somehow it increases our capacity for empathy. And we start thinking, you know, what happens when lovely music, beautiful music can be tinged by evil. We start thinking of these things. And I think for this reason, we are still attracted to these works. One of them, we are going to hear now with our lovely performers, Laura Van Der Heijden and Petr Limonov. Who are going to play Prokofiev Sonata for Cello and Piano. It was written in 1949 in the very, very dark times. Yeah, when Prokofiev's music wasn't performed, his first wife was in the labor camp. His health was shattered. And yet there was a real sunlight, a cellist came in one day and said, why don't you write some pieces for the cello? So this is what happens, completely fearlessly, in defiance of all the bans and all the disfavors, yeah. He started bringing these pieces out of Prokofiev one by one. And I think we're going to play the whole thing. It's about 23, 24 minutes, in three movements. And I think it's a wonderful piece to end our course on because it has something effortful in it. It's a low voice, it's the cello. Yeah, which is sounds from the very beginning in the very low register. There is nothing glib about this music, nothing complacent. It's a piece of resistance, really a piece of resistance of a human spirit in the face of all these atrocious things that were going on around them at the time. So let us welcome our performers, Laura Van Der Heijden and Petr Limonov. Give them a round of applause. (audience clapping) (gentle music) (upbeat music) (gentle music) (audience clapping)