See the depositions of Lebedinsky and Isaak Glikman in Elizabeth Wilson's Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, pp. 335-341.

On 7th September 1960, a week before the ratification of Shostakovich's candidate membership of the Communist Party, an article "by" him appeared in Pravda welcoming Suslov's redefinition of the theory of Socialist Realism and condemning 12-tone music as formalist. Couched in the usual faceless officialese, the piece included an interesting digression about the theatre director Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863-1938) who, in old age, displayed his customary unquenchable thirst for knowledge by teaching himself "the philosophy of dialectical materialism" and "the laws governing the development of society".

Like Gorky vis-à-vis prose and Mayakovsky vis-à-vis verse, Stanislavsky was chosen by Stalin during the Thirties to be a figurehead of Soviet orthodoxy in the theatre by whom all other theatrical practitioners might be judged (and, where necessary, condemned). In order to qualify for this role - what Mikhail Heller (Cogs In The Soviet Wheel, p. 96) calls a "mini-leader" - it was necessary that Stanislavsky be presented as definitively orthodox; hence the edifying fiction that he devoted his final years to studying Marxism-Leninism. Evidently this loaded reference was included in "Shostakovich's article" in order (1) to project him as an equivalent official "mini-leader" in music, and (2) to justify his peculiar sudden interest in the Communist Party after having had nothing to do with it during his previous 54 years - i.e., "Just like Stanislavsky!" (A similar official legend was created around the ageing Myaskovsky during the late Forties.)

Back to The Legend of the Eighth Quartet.