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Pierre Feret

Mieczyslaw Vainberg was born in 1919 in Warsaw, where his father was a composer and musical leader at a Jewish theatre, and later moved to Minsk. When the USSR became involved in the war in 1941 Vainberg was forced to leave Minsk, and he instead moved on to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In 1943 Shostakovich, highly impressed by his first symphony, enabled him to take up residence in Moscow, where he was to spend the rest of his life. In the meantime his family in Poland had been murdered by the Nazis, and in 1948 his father-in-law, the famous Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels, was liquidated on Stalins order on the wave of rising Soviet anti-semitism. A deep friendship was to characterize Vainbergs relationship with Myaskovsky and Shostakovich, and he showed every new composition to them. Shostakovich also showed his to Vainberg, whom he held to be one of the very best Soviet composers. When Vainberg in 1953 was arrested on a false charge as an enemy of the people, Shostakovich courageously intervened for him with the secret police, but in the end it was Stalins death that saved his life.

In a letter dated 1960 Shostakovich wrote to his friend Isaac Glikman: I am very impressed by M.S. Vainbergs Violin Concerto, superbly interpreted by the Communist violinist L.B. Kogan. It is a magnificent work. And I am weighing my words. The epithet Communist was an allusion to the dedicatee Kogans well-known sympathy for the rgime. (The work was not given its first performance until early 1961, but



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