Dimitri Shostakovitch

With all of the news about Russia in the media, I thought it would be a good time for me to talk about one of my favorite Russian composers, Dimitri Shostakovitch.*

Currently I'm reading an extraordinary memoir by the composer, Testament, a book I intend to review in the near future on this blog.

Aside from being a fan of  his music most of my adult life, I've always been fascinated by Shostakovitch's life story.

Early on he was considered a young and upcoming talent in the Soviet Union, having attended the Petrograd Conservatory then under the famous composer Alexander Glazunov.

The career of Shostakovitch as a composer began to rise in the Soviet Union when he met the famous conductor Bruno Walter in 1927. Later that year Walter conducted Shostakovich's 1rst Symphony in Berlin.

But after the Soviet Union's propaganda organ Pravda attacked the Shastokovitch opera Lady Macbeth and in a 1936 article "Muddle Instead of Music," Shostokovitch was in danger of losing his artistic career.

Because of that and other denunciations, Shostakovitch decided to cancel the premiere of his fourth symphony.

However, he was able to put his career back on track with the more traditional and very popular 5th Symphony that still brings audiences to their feet today.

We are so used to the freedom of speech in America it is hard for us to imagine this kind of interference in expression.  I will write more about this later.  In the meantime I would encourage readers of this blog to explore this great composers music.  A lot of Shostakovich's music is available for free on Spotify and Pandora.

*I gleaned specific facts for this article from Wikipedia here.


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