To New Heights in Art

Dmitri Shostakovich

Soviet people, small and great, own the name of Stalin and connect it with all that is best on earth. Life, happiness, peace and the creative embodiment of all that is best of our great people, our father, our leader. All spheres of human activity told and tell of the direction of the power of his genius, his luminous and clear intellect.
We people of art in particular keenly feel with bitterness the hard loss: from amongst us has departed the sage mentor, the careful friend, the thoughtful teacher. The recollection of the memories repeatedly arises in great detail of the moments when the Soviet composers had the happiness and good fortune to meet and speak to Joseph Vissarionovich. Again the resonance of his words, the full warm attention and deep sympathy come to mind. Joseph Vissarionovich not only indicated speedily, clearly and in simple terms the main aim but he also pointed out the shortest and most true path to achieve it. In his counsel he spoke with deep care that in order for art to rise to newer and newer heights it must invariably in its content and form remain close, accessible and comprehensible to the people… This approach to art by the state was invariably felt by us from the advice of the close companions of Joseph Vissarionovich and in the wise decisions of the Stalinist Central Committee.
As people of the Stalinist epoch, we must from this time on in each of our own steps in our work, in our creative activity, check with the Stalinist compass. For the millions of our people the immortal name of Stalin signifies above all life and happiness, peace and creativity, the call to vigilance, and the conquering of any difficulties in the name of the great objective – the construction of communism.
Educated by comrade Stalin, Soviet artists devote all of their creative energy to fulfil the calls of our own Joseph Vissarionovich. His words: write the truth! – spoken in conversation with writers will always remain as a source of creative inspiration to all the army of workers in the arts: the composers and painters, producers and actors – for all who value the vocation of the artists of our own people.

From: B.V. Sokolov, Molotov, ‘AST-PRESS KNIGA’, Moscow, 2005, pp. 381-2.

Translated from the Russian by Vijay Singh.