The subject is too vast, our present knowledge too partial, and the requisite state of sympathetic insight into his life and work too underdeveloped for anyone to claim to be, or be regarded as, an expert on him.
I certainly wouldnt, being at best an ephemeral agitator in the cause of truth.
MacDonald believed passionately, of course in an after-life, and the spur to write The New Shostakovich came one night when he felt a prod in the back and heard an instruction from Shostakovich to write the book.He had suffered from acute depression from around 1976 and attempted suicide twice in 19 (mentioning the fact openly in his writings and had spent the last three years in an ever-blacker depression from which death eventually seemed the only solution.The composers son recommended it as one of the best biographies of Dmitri Shostakovich I have read.And he corresponded regularly with scholars of Soviet music all around the world, usually giving generously of his time.One of the most convincing cultural analyses of recent British musical history which you could ever hope to read, reported Peter Aspden in The Financial mak makelaar Times.Praise for his most recent book, The Peoples Music, a collection of his writings on pop and rocks published six weeks ago, was not enough to revive his spirits.Vladimir Ashkenazy wrote a letter of appreciation, and Semyon Bychkov felt it gets under the skin of Shostakovich and understands the perversity of the Soviet system and what it has inflicted on humanity.Having developed an enthusiasm both for popular and classical music while he was still a schoolboy at Dulwich College, he now began writing about music, and in 1972 was appointed Assistant Editor of The New Musical Express, then being heavily outsold by Melody Maker.Testimony, a bitter and brave book, revealed to a largely unsuspecting west that the Soviet Unions most vaunted composer, far from being a hapless stooge of the regime, was in truth a passionate and courageous anti-Stalinist.He was found dead at his Gloucestershire home on Thursday morning, having posted a note on the door to call the police.
But it was his sometimes over-literal interpretations of the music, occasionally ascribing a film-music specificity to particular gestures, that aroused most excitement.
Nor MacDonald, either: he enjoyed the drugs culture, changed courses three times, largely to avoid exams, and left.Norman Lebrecht described it as a tour de force of musical and social analysis.Otherwise, it seems like only people instructing drivers' ed or your brother who just got his drivers' license would like.This obituary was first published in the Independent on It is here by permission of Ian's family.Into this febrile atmosphere stepped MacDonalds The New Shostakovich, published in 1990, which demonstrated close parallels between the Shostakovich of Testimony and the music itself and thus called the composer to the support of the memoirist.The music is also really bland, and doesn't seem cool enough for a racing/strategy game.