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Shostakovich: a midnight meditator on life’s futility

Julian Barnes brings to life the troubled inner world of Dmitri Shostakovich

By Catriona Kelly   February 2016

Shostakovich with fellow composers Sergei Prokofiev (left) and Aram Khachaturian (right)

The Noise of Time, by Julian Barnes, Vintage, £14.99

The life of Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich is at once well-documented and elusive. Famous from an early age, the Russian composer was surrounded for his whole life by family, musicians, pupils, enemies and admirers; he attracted the attention of the formidable Soviet surveillance machine at every level. Material traces, including an apartment museum in Moscow, abound. Yet he also…

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