At De Balie in Amsterdam …


On 6 April at De Balie in Amsterdam the film screening, panel discussion & exhibition of the documentary film ‘The Art of the Symphony’ took place, with a full auditorium attending and interesting panel discussion.

Filmed in Prague, ‘The Art of the Symphony’ takes us from a studio where live paintings of Shostakovich symphonies are created, to archive footage of Prague during the Communist era and to present-day sites of former Communist monuments. Through these images, the main theme of the film – freedom from oppression – is related through a humanitarian, rather than political standpoint where; the individual, the human soul, strives to rise above this agony. Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony is at the heart of these notions.

Produced by the DSCH Journal affiliate DSCH Films, written & directed by Alan Mercer.

Live-paintings by Maryleen Schiltkamp

Trailer documentary:


The documentary (50 minutes) was screened in the Filmzaal of De Balie, and followed by a panel discusssion and Q&A, after which an exhibition of the paintings created and filmed for ‘The Art of the Symphony’ could be visited in the upper-foyer at De Balie, Amsterdam.

Libor Ć tichauer – speaker at Jan Palach commemoration 2019
Olga de Kort – musicologist and music journalist
Albert van der Schoot – aesthetician, philosopher and musicologist
Alan Mercer – filmdirector DSCH Films

The subjects of the panelspeakers reflected the central theme of the documentary – freedom from oppression:

Panelmember Libor Stichauer, Czech scientist and speaker at Jan Palach commemoration 2019, Czech Center/ Goethe Institute Rotterdam. Very strong speech on the value of principles and commitment, with the memory of Jan Palach self-demolition on January 19, 1969 on Wenceslas square in Prague as a universal signal.

Panelmember Olga de Kort, musicologist, music journalist and critic, with expertise on the reception of Russian composers in the Netherlands. Olga enlightened us on Shostakovich and the Fourth Symphony.

Albert van der Schoot, aesthetician, musicologist and philosopher. His subject was the Zhdanov Decree of 1946 and its effect on Shostakovich. Soviet Realism in music was questioned, as were grounds for ‘Formalism’; ‘Anti-Formalist Rayok’ was held as example of Shostakovich’s satirical reply. Integrity of the composer and moral dillemma’s were addressed in the panel discusssion

Alan Mercer, founder and chief editor of the DSCH Journal, a regulair publication on the life and work of Dmitri Shostakovich, and film director at DSCH Films, affiliated to the DSCH Journal.

Maryleen Schiltkamp – visual artist, music painter; moderator of the panel

The exhibition of paintings was open for public at the upper-foyer of De Balie for one week, during 5 – 12 April

Many thanks to the employees of De Balie for their kind support and cooperation!