Solzhenitsyn Centennial Commemorations

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With the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth around the corner (11 December), and many new editions of his works continuing to come out in Russian, French, English, and many other languages, the folks at the Solzhenitsyn Center have compiled a partial list of the key events taking place this month and next. Here is a sampling:

20 August – 13 December 2018
Notre Dame, Indiana—University of Notre Dame
Exhibit—In Solzhenitsyn’s Circle: The Writer and His Invisible Allies

5 November 2018
Washington, DC—Library of Congress
Book launch of Between Two Millstones, Book 1

19 November 2018
New York, New York—92nd Street Y
Ignat Solzhenitsyn speaks/reads/lectures/performs: “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at 100” 

19-21 November 2018
Paris, France—Institut de France and Sorbonne
International conference and exhibit of Solzhenitsyn’s manuscripts

7-9 November 2018
Moscow, Russia—Bolshoi Theatre
Alexander Tchaikovsky opera “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”
New production première—artistic director and conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn

11 December 2018, evening
Moscow, Russia—Moscow Art Theatre
“Your A. Solzhenitsyn”
A special production in honor of Solzhenitsyn’s 100th birthday
Starring Evgeni Mironov

14 December 2018
Moscow, Russia—Tverskaya street, 12, building 8
Grand Opening of Solzhenitsyn Apartment-Museum

16 December 2018
Moscow, Russia—Moscow International Performing Arts Centre
Concert—Vladimir Spivakov, conductor; Ignat Solzhenitsyn, piano

Preview: Recital & Reading at the Y

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This coming Monday I will present an intimate evening of music featured in and inspired by my father's writings, along with excerpts from his poetry, in honor of the centenary of his birth (coming up on 11 December). 

The program includes piano works by Beethoven and Shostakovich, personal reflections, and a selection of Solzhenitsyn's compelling poems, some of which will be heard in English for the very first time in my new translations (see excerpt below).

This event takes place at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Monday, 19 November 2018 at 7.30pm. Details and ticket information is available on the 92nd Street Y website

Do not believe it, it’s not done!—I know, I wait,
Yet I am helpless to prise open eyelids weighed with sleep.
Just barely we doze off—the bell!! And in the dazzling moonlight’s majesty
We come outside in comic capes—our blankets’ formless heap.
We come out boiling, come out cursing one and all,
The very stars above do pity, warmth, and dark embargo—
When of a sudden, from a speaker, weeping,
There faintly wafts toward us a dour Beethoven largo.
I give a start as soon as its tones reach me,
I turn my grizzled, coarsened face to meet that sound—
Oh who, oh when will learn about all this
And staunchly write it down?
— From the prologue ("Inception") to the epic poem The Trail (1947-53). Not yet published in English. New translation by Ignat Solzhenitsyn

New book out today

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Another huge project this summer and autumn has been, while wearing my other hat as translator/editor, helping to shepherd to publication Book 1 of my father’s memoirs of his years in the West, Between Two Millstones: Sketches of Exile. It first appeared in Russian in 1998, but it has taken until now for an English publication to materialize. It is well worth the wait, however, beautifully translated by Peter Constantine, and appearing in a gorgeous hardback edition from the University of Notre Dame Press, to which I supplied endnotes and an Index of Selected Names.

More details here.

LISTEN: "One Day" opera at the Bolshoi

One of my big projects this autumn is the preparation, together with the renowned director Georgi Isaakian, of a new production of Aleksandr Tchaikovsky’s opera “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” for the Bolshoi Theatre. Rehearsals have not yet begun, but there is of course a huge amount of work behind the scenes, as I study the score, decide on any necessary cuts, correct typos, etc. One of many wonderful aspects of this opera is the sheer beauty of the choral writing. Hear an excerpt if you wish:

Preview: Shostakovich at Marlboro

Tomorrow night, at the Marlboro Festival, I will perform, together with the wonderful bass-baritone Simon Barrad, the extraordinary Suite on Verses by Michelangelo Buonarotti, Op. 145 (the composer insisted it was a suite, not a cycle) by Dmitri Shostakovich. The music is absolutely top-notch—arresting, haunting, shattering, and just so very beautiful. But the great poetry of Michelangelo deserves equal billing. Here is the text of the final verse (No. 11), in the original Italian, then in the Shostakovich setting (as translated by Abram Efros) and finally in Simon Barrad’s English translation.

Qui vuol mie sorte c'anzi tempo i' dorma,

né son già morto: e ben c'albergo cangi,

resto in te vivo, c'or mi vedi e piangi,

se l'un nell'altro amante si trasforma.

Qui son morto creduto; e per conforto

del mondo vissi, e con mille alme in seno

di veri amanti; adunche a venir meno,

per tormen' una sola non son morto.

Здесь рок послал безвременный мне сон,

Но я не мёртв, хоть и опущен в землю:

Я жив в тебе, чьим сетованьям внемлю,

Затем, что в друге друг отображён.

Я словно б мёртв, но миру в утешенье

Я тысячами душ живу в сердцах

Всех любящих, и, значит, я не прах,

И смертное меня не тронет тленье.

Here fate has sent me an untimely dream,

But I’m not dead, though lowered into the earth:

I am alive in you, to whose laments I hearken,

Because we are reflected in each other.

I am as dead, but, in consolation to the world,

I live in the hearts of thousands of souls,

Of all those who love—and therefore I’m not dust,

And mortal decay will not touch me.