Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian composer whose symphonies and quartets, numbering 15 each, are among the greatest examples of these classic forms from the 20th century. His style evolved from the brash humor and experimental character of his first period, exemplified by the operas "The Nose" and "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk", into both the more introverted melancholy and nationalistic fervor of his second phase (the Symphonies No.5 and No.7, "Leningrad"), and finally into the defiant and bleak mood of his last period (exemplified by the Symphony No.14 and Quartet No.15). Early in his career his music showed the influence of Prokofiev and Stravinsky, especially in his prodigious and highly successful First Symphony. He could effectively communicate a melancholic depth and profound sense of anguish, as one hears in many of his symphonies, concertos, and quartets. Solomon Volkov, in his controversial Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich explains the composer's seeming bombast as deft satire of the pomposity of the Soviet state, pointing to the "forced rejoicing" of Fifth Symphony's ending. Typical traits of Shostakovich's style include short, reiterated melodic or rhythmic figures, motifs of one or two pitches or intervals, and lugubrious and manic string writing.
Shostakovich was born in St Petersburg in 1906 and educated at the Petrograd Conservatory. The acid style of his early "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" irritated Stalin, and Shostakovich was attacked in the Soviet press. Fearing imprisonment, he withdrew his already rehearsed Fourth Symphony; his Fifth Symphony (1937) carried the subtitle "A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism". It is more ingenious than most critics have fathomed, for it managed to satisfy both the backward tastes of the party censors and those of more demanding aesthetes in the West.
The 1941 German invasion of Russia inspired the composer's Seventh Symphony, subtitled "Leningrad". Impressed by the Symphony's epic-heroic character, Toscanini, Koussevitzky, and Stokowski vied for the Western Hemisphere premiere; the score had to be microfilmed, flown to Teheran, driven to Cairo, and flown out. The work became an enormous success the world over, but eventually fell into obscurity. Still, the composer had for a time become a worldwide celebrity, his picture even appearing on the cover of Time.
Shostakovich ran afoul of the government again in 1948, when an infamous decree was issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party accusing Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and other prominent composers of "formalist perversions". For some time he wrote mostly works glorifying Soviet life or history. Artistic repression diminished in post-Stalinist Russia, but curiously Shostakovich still drew in his modernist horns until the Thirteenth Symphony, "Babi Yar", a 1962 work based on poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. The work provoked major controversy because of its first movement's subject: Russian oppression of the Jews.
In 1966 Shostakovich wrote his Second Cello Concerto, a work on an even higher level than his solid First, but one that has yet to capture as much attention from either artists or the public. That year, Shostakovich was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. He continued to compose, his works growing more sparsely scored and darker, the subject of death becoming prominent. His Fourteenth Symphony (1969), really a collection of songs on texts by Lorca, Apollinaire, Küchelbecker, and Rilke, is a death-obsessed work of considerable dissonance and showing little regard for the Socialist Realism still demanded by the state. Shostakovich died on August 9, 1975.
Source: Rovi Staff (allmusic.com)
Dmitri Shostakovich – All the posts
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.7 in C major "Leningrad" – hr-Sinfonieorchester, Marin Alsop (HD 1080p)
George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.13 in B flat minor "Babi Yar" – Sergei Aleksashkin, Groot Omroepmannenkoor, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Dima Slobodeniouk
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.4 in C minor – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, David Afkham
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.14 in G minor – Makvala Kasrashvili, Evgeny Nesterenco, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Rudolf Barshai (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major – Mstislav Rostropovich, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin (May 29, 1960 – Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor – Nicola Benedetti, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Søndergård (HD 1080p)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major – Alexander Warenberg, Symphony Orchestra of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Judith Kubitz
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major, & Symphony No.1 in F minor | Benjamin Britten: Sinfonietta, Op.1 – Steven Isserlis, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis (HD 1080p)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.2 in G major – Mstislav Rostropovich, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Yevgeny Svetlanov (World premiere recording, Prague, December 6, 1967 – Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.1 in C minor – Martha Argerich, David Guerrier, Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, Gábor Takács-Nagy
Dmitri Shostakovich plays the end of his First Piano Concerto (1940)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.2 in F major – Dmitri Shostakovich, Orchestre National de France, André Cluytens (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings in C minor – Dmitri Shostakovich, Orchestre National de France, André Cluytens (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Jazz Suite No.1 – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite for Promenade Orchestra (Jazz Suite No.2) – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Sonata for viola and piano – Maxim Rysanov, Kathryn Stott
Dmitri Shostakovich: Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor – Mstislav Rostropovich, Dmitri Shostakovich (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Trio No.2 in E minor – Delta Piano Trio (HD 1080p)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Trio No.1 in C minor – Janine Jansen, Torleif Thedéen, Eldar Nebolsin
Dmitri Shostakovich: 3 Fantastic Dances, 5 Preludes & Fugues – Dmitri Shostakovich (Audio video)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Song-cycle: From Jewish Folk Poetry – Tatiana Sharova, Ludmila Kuznetsova, Alexei Martynov, Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky (Audio video)
Shostakovich Against Stalin: The War Symphonies – A Documentary by Larry Weinstein – Netherland Radio Philharmonic, Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (HD 1080p)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Katerina Izmailova (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), 1966 – A film by Mikhail Shapiro – Galina Vishnevskaya, Konstantin Simeonov
The New Babylon (Novyy Vavilon), 1929 – A film by Grigori Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg – Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (HD 1080p)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Film music from New Babylon – Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky (Audio video)
Texts (in Greek)
Μουσική υπό διωγμό: οι πολιτικές διώξεις του Ντμίτρι Σοστακόβιτς