Dmitry Shostakovich’s long and impressive career in film scoring from 1929 to 1971 uniquely positioned him to participate in the cultural politics of cinema, and allowed him a space where he could hone his skill as a film composer. As the first designated “film composer” in 1929, he built a career in film scoring that matured during high Stalinism and beyond. During this time, in collaboration with directors such as Grigory Kozintsev, Sergey Gerasimov, the Vasilyev brothers and Aleksandr Dovzhenko, he composed scores that had their stylistic basis in his experimental practices of earlier periods that were wedded with outwardly socialist realist film narratives. This created what is called a “mainstream” scoring practice, one which ultimately would be heard as a socialist realist. In this seminar, Joan Titus focuses on Shostakovich’s music to films that date from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s, while discussing the concept of scoring for a Soviet “mainstream” cinema.
Titus is an associate professor of musicology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.