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Towards a Differently Politicised Shostakovich:an Analytical, Hermeneutical and Feminist Exploration of the Opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District

Jones, Laura Frances (2012) Towards a Differently Politicised Shostakovich:an Analytical, Hermeneutical and Feminist Exploration of the Opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis provides a feminist interpretation of Shostakovich’s opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1932) that draws on musical analysis – particularly of tonality – and explores cultural contexts – particularly the history of Soviet women – in order to do so. If Shostakovich scholarship has been dominated by overtly politicised readings hitherto, this study contributes to the broadening of research methods and areas through which we might examine these compositions – yet for its own, differently political ends. Similarly, it adds to that limited body of literature – in the field of Shostakovich specifically, yet also in musicology in general – that profitably combines both analytical and hermeneutical approaches. Lady Macbeth is often held to be a ‘feminist’ opera: an assessment that is highly problematic. A conventional feminist musical analysis of the work reveals its fundamental tonal-dramatic narrative to tell a familiar story of the heroine Katerina’s struggle and subjugation; moreover, her final defeat is endorsed by aspects of the musical setting in a manner that is regressive. A richer contextual reading demonstrates that more is at stake here: Shostakovich’s opera is shown to embody a shift from experiment to thermidor that took place in the 1920s and 1930s in various cultural and social spheres, and its strategies of endorsement also work to celebrate a move to traditionalism with far-reaching historical implications. Yet several analytical and hermeneutical readings of short extracts from the piece uncover moments in which its monolithic and pessimistic message is complicated: a project in line with other recent feminist and critical musicological developments.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Shostakovich, Lady Macbeth, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, feminist, feminist criticism, women, musical analysis, analysis, tonality, voice-leading, hermeneutics, Soviet, Russia, 1920s, 1930s, opera, dramatic, McClary
Academic Units: The University of York > Music (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.568107
Depositing User: Ms Laura Frances Jones
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2013 16:54
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3384

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