Readings & Lectures

Composing Truth to Power: Britten, Shostakovich and Prokofiev in the War Years

Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich embody one of the most colorful and accessible threads in mid-20th century music. Each used his music – both on concert stages and in tandem with emerging media such as radio and film – to connect swiftly with worldwide audiences and to engage young ears with the powers of classical composition. This populist approach to writing music drew on their belief in art’s power to enliven the spirit of any listener, even in dark periods of history, and at a time when many contemporaries were pioneering more densely complex forms of composition. The Chicago Symphony is celebrating this important current in classical music from the last century with a three-week festival. Join us as CSO artistic programming advisor Gerard McBurney presents a talk and Q&A on these composers’ music, inspirations, outlooks, and lasting influence.

A native of England, Gerard McBurney studied in Cambridge and at the Moscow Conservatory before returning to London, where he worked for many years as a composer, arranger, broadcaster, teacher and writer. His original compositions include orchestral works, a ballet, a chamber opera, songs and chamber music as well as many theater scores. He also is well known for his reconstructions of various lost and forgotten works by Dmitri Shostakovich.

As a scholar, McBurney has published mostly in the field of Russian and Soviet music.  He also has acted as advisor and collaborated with many orchestras and presenters, including Lincoln Center, the Emerson String Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In September 2006, McBurney joined the staff of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he is now artistic programming advisor. He is also creative director of Beyond the Score.

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Tuesday, May 13th, 7:00 PM
Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street
Free Admission