LETTER: Shostakovich

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Sir: The text of Solomon Volkov's Testimony (New York: Harper & Row, 1979) remains exactly as it was 19 years ago: the beginnings of seven of the eight chapters are comprised of direct quotations extracted from previously published sources, paragraph after paragraph, sentence after sentence ("Historical Notes - The struggle for Shostakovich's Soul", 14 July). Yet Volkov made the claim that the volume included nothing but what Shostakovich told him in private conversation.

Messrs Feofanov and Ho would have us believe that these extended and uncredited quotations can be explained away by the assertion that Shostakovich had a photographic memory.

If you believe that Shostakovich in conversation with Volkov could have reproduced word for word, including punctuation (!), his previously published interviews and memoirs, and that Solomon Volkov could have written down those sentences and paragraphs in shorthand, without the help of a tape recorder, then reconstructed the exact text Shostakovich had quoted from memory, then I would like to speak privately with you about a good deal on the sale of a bridge in Brooklyn!


Professor Emeritus of Music (Musicology)