How Shostakovich signed his support for the Kremlin

How Shostakovich signed his support for the Kremlin


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2014

There’s a story among Russian musicians that the great composer practised signing his name upside down.

When asked why, Dmitri Shostakovich said ‘they are always sending me these letters asking for my support in one cause or other. I don’t want to read them. So, as they come across the desk, I sign them upside down.’

Shame Valery Gergiev has suspended his critical faculties when dealing with Putin and power.

It’s just like Stalin times.

kondrashin, shostakovich


  • ed says:

    With all due respect, no one’s critical faculties were suspended in the signing of the recent letter published in Izvestia. I urge those who have an open mind to read the numerous articles in Consortium News authored by some of America’s finest former CIA officials, including Ray McGovern, Paul Pillar, and Melvin Goodman and by one of our very best investigative journalists, Bob Parry. To compare the Russia of today with the Soviet Union under which Shostakovich lived. including the reign of terror under Stalin is way off base.

    • David Conway says:

      Sorry, Ed – exactly how do the activities of the people you name, none of whom I have ever head of, exculpate Gergiev, Bashmet, etc. over Crimea? Do explain.

  • On the surface there would appear to be a similarity in the scenarios of Shost/Stalin and Ger/Putin. Then I remembered that considering Ger makes 17.5 million dollars a year, they really are not similar situations.

  • Cambridge says:

    Note that Shostakovich did not denounce the regime. Just signed! One does not blame him, of course, but he had to cow-tow to the brutal regime. He was not a hero of protest.