My original intention with this dissertation was to engage in a generalised discussion on the interaction of music and ideology in the Soviet Union under Communism. This was a very wide area to cover, and as I progressed with my research, I inevitably narrowed my focus to eventually deal with a single piece of music that lies at the heart of the issues I wished to deal with. Also, with the progress of my research into the Soviet system, I found that some of my original aims were founded on misconceptions about the nature of the dictatorship that I was studying. One of the most important aspects of this discovery was that Marxist political ideology was merely the tool by which the dictatorship preserved itself. The rule of Stalin, which is synonymous with terror and atrocities, was based not on an attempt to liberate the people through communist ideals, but to completely subjugate them. With this knowledge, I found that it was almost useless to discuss the interaction of the political ideals with music because Marxism was merely incidental in the entity known as the Soviet Union once the original idealists had been disposed of. The reality of political life in under the Communists was an Orwellian party machine that existed solely to keep itself in power. Lenin’s original belief that any means were justified in the creation of communism simply became the means by which the Party perpetuated its own power base.
My attempts to pursue the matter of the interaction of art and state led, inevitably, to the music and person of Shostakovich. From evidence that is still emerging, the possibility that he was a sometime, if not lifelong, dissident becomes clear. This has led me to the study of music which may have emerged as a direct reaction against the regime. The work I have chosen to concentrate on is one of the pivotal works in the career of the composer from this point of view. At its most basic level, I feel that the seventh symphony, the Leningrad, raises the issue of the interaction of music and ideals that I set out as my general area of discussion in my original dissertation proposal. In particular, it is something that I did not expect to find - instrumental music that contains criticism of the Soviet state and the system of government that existed there. In Shostakovich, and the Leningrad, I arrived at the investigation of a specific example of the interaction of music and idealism that is also a critique of the misapplication of those ideals.