Letter: Capturing the music of a composer’s defiant words

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Reading Gillian Tett’s column, an inquiry into the logic of banning Russian arts in response to war crimes in Ukraine (Magazine, FT Weekend, April 16), there was a missed opportunity to draw upon Julian Barnes’s novel The Noise of Time, the semi-fictionalised account of the trials and tribulations of Dmitri Shostakovich and his perseverance in defiance of oppressive censorship.

In the novel, Barnes writes: “Art belongs to everybody and nobody. Art belongs to all time and no time. Art belongs to those who create it and those who savour it. Art no more belongs to the People and the Party than it once belonged to the aristocracy and the patron. Art is the whisper of history, heard above the noise of time. Art does not exist for art’s sake: it exists for people’s sake.”

If properly tuned, one might hear parallels in other Russian artistic works: rousing ovations for the liberty of free people bending the arc of history and confronting the cynicism of tyranny.

Mark Eisinger
Rockville, MD, US

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