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Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues$
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Mark Mazullo

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780300149432

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300149432.001.0001

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Completing the Cycle

Completing the Cycle

(p.194) 7 Completing the Cycle
Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues

Mark Mazullo

Yale University Press

This chapter describes Shostakovich's cycle of Preludes and Fugues in its final stretch, taking on an increasingly enigmatic, darker-hued character. With their direct evocation of the opening of the Symphony No. 11, which depicts a wintry quiet in St. Petersburg's Palace Square before the brutal murder of hundreds of innocent people by the Tsar's troops in January 1905, both the Prelude and the Fugue in C Minor create an unmistakable mood of anticipation, of palpable expectation that something momentous is in the air. With these final preludes and fugues, one begins to sense that Shostakovich aimed to chart an emotional progression throughout the cycle from carefree to anxious, thus matching the transformation from light to darkness that is inherent in the circle-of-fifths logic of the cycle's tonal journey from C major to D minor.

Keywords:   darker-hued character, final stretch, St. Petersburg, brutal murder, circle-of-fifths logic

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