A Russian Eschatology: Theological Reflections on the Music of Dmitri Shostakovich

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A Russian Eschatology: Theological Reflections on the Music of Dmitri Shostakovich

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Title: A Russian Eschatology: Theological Reflections on the Music of Dmitri Shostakovich
Author: Davis, Anna Megan
Advisor: Gorringe, Tim
Publisher: University of Exeter
Date Issued: 2011-12-07
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10036/3528
Abstract: Theological reflection on music commonly adopts a metaphysical approach, according to which the proportions of musical harmony are interpreted as ontologies of divine order, mirrored in the created world. Attempts to engage theologically with music’s expressivity have been largely rejected on the grounds of a distrust of sensuality, accusations that they endorse a ‘religion of aestheticism’ and concern that they prioritise human emotion at the expense of the divine. This thesis, however, argues that understanding music as expressive is both essential to a proper appreciation of the art form and of value to the theological task, and aims to defend and substantiate this claim in relation to the music of twentieth-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Analysing a selection of his works with reference to culture, iconography, interiority and comedy, it seeks both to address the theological criticisms of musical expressivism and to carve out a positive theological engagement with the subject, arguing that the distinctive contribution of Shostakovich’s music to theological endeavour lies in relation to a theology of hope, articulated through the possibilities of the creative act.
Type: Thesis or dissertation
Keywords: TheologyMusicShostakovich
Funders/Sponsor: AHRC; University of Exeter


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