Device is incompatible to play the video
Thursday, 20 May 2021, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
LSO St Luke's

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Shostakovich

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker

At one point in his life, Shostakovich considered the career of a concert pianist. He was talented enough to become a Soviet competitor at the international Chopin Competition of 1927, but he was struck down with acute appendicitis, and he had to leave with only a diploma rather than a major prize. Whether his pain and disappointment soured his relations with the piano we cannot be sure, it is astonishing that his piano music studiously avoids the virtuosity he had assiduously cultivated as a young performer. Almost all his piano writing is in some way experimental, conceptual, challenging the pianist to make sense of piano writing that often seems ungrateful, not unlike Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which we heard in the first lecture of this series. 

Even so, Shostakovich’s monumental cycle of Preludes and Fugues stands at the very core of his output. Written “for the desk drawer” in his most difficult years, following a second round of official criticism, it often rejoices in the very “formalism” he was accused of. Following the example of J.S. Bach, Shostakovich offers us twenty-four strictly constructed fugues in all the keys, each preceded by a free-flowing prelude. The set takes us on a fascinating journey, beginning with near-pastiches of Bach, into a world where Russian folk song can meet Jewish cantillation, and where Baroque idioms meet modernism, with extremes of emotion that can rival any of Shostakovich’s symphonies.

Image © Deutsche Fotothek CC BY-SA

MFW-picture_B&W-370x370.png

Marina Frolova-Walker is Gresham Professor of Music. She is a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian. She is Professor of Music History and Director of Studies in Music at Clare College, Cambridge. 

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker is a specialist in the Russian music of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published extensively on Russian music and is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3. Among her many awards and appointments, she is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded the Edward Dent Medal in 2015 by the Royal Musical Association for her achievements in musicology. She was a Visiting Professor of Russian Music at Gresham in 2018-19. 

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker said:

“I am honoured and excited to take up the position of 36th Gresham Professor of Music, and I am delighted to have such eminent predecessors as John Bull and Iannis Xenakis. Bringing knowledge about music to a broader public has always been one of my passions, and the work of several recent Professors of Music such as David Owen Norris and Roger Parker has been an inspiration for my own activities as a public lecturer. 

“My first lecture series features the artistic project of the Ballet Russes, brainchild of the great impresario Serge Diaghilev. Prior to Diaghilev, no one thought that ballet could be transformed into a provocatively modern art, a platform for cutting-edge experiments in music, choreography and design. The project had its roots in Diaghilev’s inspired marketing of “Russianness” in the Parisian arts world, and he continued to develop his ideas until his circle had become an international hotbed of artistic innovation. “Surprise me!”, Diaghilev would say to anyone with a new proposal, and he did indeed bring about a stream of artworks that still surprise and delight us today.” 

You can find more information on Marina and her research interests here: https://www.marinafrolova-walker.com/

Professor Frolova-Walker's lecture series are as follows:

2020/21 Russian Piano Masterpieces

2019/20 Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

2018/19 Russian Opera and the State

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Music can be accessed here.

Read More
Read Less
Related Past Lectures
WATCHED

The History of Synagogue Music in London

Chazan Eliot Alderman
Tuesday, 8 June 2021 - 1:00PM
WATCHED

Performing with Toy Pianos

Xenia Pestova Bennett
Wednesday, 26 May 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

Cyborg Piano: Magnetic Resonator Piano

Xenia Pestova Bennett
Wednesday, 28 April 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Radio in the Digital Era (1982–)

Jeremy Summerly
Thursday, 15 April 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Prokofiev

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 25 March 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Stravinsky

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 25 February 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Prokofiev

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 25 March 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Stravinsky

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 25 February 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Scriabin

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 21 January 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Rachmaninov

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 26 November 2020 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Musorgsky

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 24 September 2020 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Diaghilev and Prokofiev: Return to Emotion

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Tuesday, 12 May 2020 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Prokofiev

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 25 March 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Stravinsky

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 25 February 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Scriabin

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 21 January 2021 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Rachmaninov

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 26 November 2020 - 6:00PM
WATCHED
Part of a series

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Musorgsky

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Thursday, 24 September 2020 - 6:00PM
WATCHED

What is the opening chord of a Hard Day's Night?

Jeremy Summerly
Thursday, 31 October 2019 - 10:00AM
WATCHED

Prokofiev's Epic Opera

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Tuesday, 14 May 2019 - 10:00AM
WATCHED

Pauline Oliveros: Hidden Music

Professor Tom Service
Thursday, 21 March 2019 - 10:00AM
WATCHED

Listening Bodies

Professor Tom Service
Friday, 1 February 2019 - 10:00AM
WATCHED

Power, Suffering & Drama: The Opera Boris Godunov

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - 10:00AM
WATCHED

Ghostly Sounds

Professor Tom Service
Wednesday, 19 December 2018 - 10:00AM