In the late 1920s, Dmitry Shostakovich emerged as one of the first Soviet film composers. With his first score for the silent film the New Babylon (1929) and the many sound scores that followed, he was positioned to observe and participate in the changing politics of the film industry and negotiate the role of the film composer. In The Early Film Music of Dmitry Shostakovich, Joan Titus examines the scores of six of Shostakovich's films, from 1928 through 1936. Instead of investigating Shostakovich as a composer, a rebel, a communist, or a dissident, as innumerable studies do, Titus approaches him as a concept in itself-as an idea-and asks why and how listeners understand him as they do.
Through Shostakovich's scores, Titus engages with the construct of Soviet intelligibility, the filmmaking and scoring processes, and the cultural politics of scoring Soviet film music, asking why and how listeners understand the composer the way they do. The discussions of the scores are enriched by the composer's own writing on film music, along with archival materials and recently discovered musical manuscripts that illuminate the collaborative processes of the film teams, studios, and composer. The Early Film Music of Dmitry Shostakovich commingles film studies, musicology, and Russian studies with original scholarship, and is sure to be of interest to a wide audience including musicologists, film scholars, historians of Russia and the Soviet Union, and Slavicists.