Notes to "Shostakovich, Zamyatin, Goldstein, and 'The Bolt'"

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[1] Leonid Helier (ed), Autour de Zamiatine, L'Age d'Homme, 1989.

[2] Zamyatin's 'We': a Collection of Critical Essays, p. 286.

[3] The Bolt ran for one night at the Kirov (Maryinisky) Theatre on 8th April 1931.

[4] Zamyatin satirised Lenin in his anti-Bolshevik 'fables' written for the Left SR newspaper The People's Concern during 1918.

[5] According to Goldstein, Zamyatin reproached Shostakovich "violently" for acceding to the commission for the Second Symphony, voicing his utter disgust over Alexander Bezymensky's verses and calling the composer's setting "musical horseshit". Goldstein claims further that Shostakovich personally told him he and Zamyatin often discussed "the music of the future". "It was," Shostakovich allegedly recalled, "hard to distract Zamyatin from his futurological tendencies. According to him, the music of the future would be strictly regulated, crystal-pure, harmonically orthodox. As such, it would be the foundation of Marxist sanctity and servility. Minor keys, alien to the ideals of this ideal society, would disappear. They'd be regarded as class enemies. Major keys! Nothing but major keys! Music, even wordless music, would be strictly subordinate to the word. Every new symphony would arrive chaperoned by citations from Marx or Engels. Naturally we'd need a new generation of musical robots to fulfil these requirements to the letter." According to Goldstein's Shostakovich, Zamyatin enjoyed mocking the Proletkult view of music, ascendant in the USSR between 1929 and early 1932: "He liked to send up the socio-ideological sort of review we used to get in magazines like Music and Revolution and Music and October which were always full of profound articles expounding the role of Marxist doctrine in musicology."

[6] See Kathleen Lewis and Harry Weber, 'Zamyatin's We, the Proletarian Poets, and Bogdanov's Red Star', in Kern (ibid).

[7] Letter to Tanya Glivenko, 12th November 1925.

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