Music: Moscow Music Congress

Russian composers patriotically hymned Soviet heroes during World War II, and the good will they thus banked at the Kremlin gave them a brief period of postwar freedom. But by 1948, an iron hand had closed tightly around Soviet composers. The hand was that of Andrei Zhdanov, cat-cruel Politburo careerist whose ear for music had been destroyed long before by the din of dialectical crossfire. Zhdanov in effect put all Russian composers on trial, including the three modern giants—Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry Shostakovich and Aram Khachaturian. The charges: "formalism" (i.e., art for art's sake,...

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