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Old January 11th, 2013, 12:05 PM   #1
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Shostakovich


Shostakovich really is worth a discussion. Dmitry Shostakovich, Russian composer, known for 15 symphonies, numerous chamber works, and concerti, many written under the pressures of government-imposed standards of Soviet art. From 1928, when Joseph Stalin inaugurated his First Five-Year Plan, an iron hand fastened on Soviet culture, and Shostakovich was officially shunned. He persevered, though, and his music is now revered (Biography.com).

Russia's new Leninist government recognized Shostakovich as a valuable political tool. During the 1920s, he was given commissions for the concert hall and stage. By the early 1930s, however, Shostakovich's avant-garde forms, brash harmonies, and sarcastic idioms got him in trouble with Stalin's regime. Popular in Russia, Shostakovich's repertoire was pretty much managed by the State at that time. His music is Russian orientated but also diverse, and in his Chamber music there may well be Jewish elements.

http://www.naxos.com/person/Dmitry_S...4851/24851.htm

So, was he disillusioned by the October Revolution, was he a dissident? And was his music really as terrible as Pravda claimed in 1936?

"Chaos instead of music" (From Pravda, January 29, 1936) Chaos instead of music - Pravda's attack on Shostakovich
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Old January 11th, 2013, 12:26 PM   #2

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I have just been listening to his music it is beautiful

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Old January 11th, 2013, 12:37 PM   #3
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Hello Crystal how are you? Still holding your own I see ;-) Yep it is great music, but "Pravda " didn't like it in '36. "From the first minute, the listener is shocked by deliberate dissonance, by a confused stream of sound. Snatches of melody, the beginnngs of a musical phrase, are drowned, emerge again, and disappear in a grinding and squealing roar. To follow this "music" is most difficult; to remember it, impossible... a cacophony...musical chaos" (Pravda).

He certainly did dissent, and I like him for his rebellious nature projected through his music. A great way to hide his beliefs from the Marxists. Great Biography here: Great Performances . Educational Resources . Composer Biographies . Dmitry Shostakovich | PBS

Much as I dislike Wiki, there's a decent Bio' there:
Dmitri_Shostakovich Dmitri_Shostakovich

Shostakovich Against Stalin, Pt 1 (The War Symphonies) - YouTube
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Old January 11th, 2013, 12:38 PM   #4

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Stalin boasted of having educated him.


I start by posting romance but one is enough. The music played in the intro of the TV show "Reilly Ace of Spies".

Last edited by Yḥānān; January 11th, 2013 at 12:53 PM.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 12:52 PM   #5
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Seems Shostakovich was a Stalin favourite at the time. On the one hand he was subversive, he took the mickey through his Operas, yet he got awards and the Stalin Prize. But I think that to believe Shostakovich was 100% faithful to the communist party would be naive - considering what went on around him. More likely, he appeased the Communists with what they wanted to hear, and kept his naughty bits to himself :-)

Hoping this thread doesn't go the same way as others; the music and Shostakovich are the theme...and to be celebrated.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 01:05 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Paul View Post
Hello Crystal how are you? Still holding your own I see ;-) Yep it is great music, but "Pravda " didn't like it in '36. "From the first minute, the listener is shocked by deliberate dissonance, by a confused stream of sound. Snatches of melody, the beginnngs of a musical phrase, are drowned, emerge again, and disappear in a grinding and squealing roar. To follow this "music" is most difficult; to remember it, impossible... a cacophony...musical chaos" (Pravda).

He certainly did dissent, and I like him for his rebellious nature projected through his music. A great way to hide his beliefs from the Marxists. Great Biography here: Great Performances . Educational Resources . Composer Biographies . Dmitry Shostakovich | PBS

Much as I dislike Wiki, there's a decent Bio' there: Dmitri Shostakovich - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shostakovich Against Stalin, Pt 1 (The War Symphonies) - YouTube
The rebels, of society will always have a true talent as they do not conform to regulations and rules they will be original and their talent will always stand out.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 01:16 PM   #7

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String Quartet 8. Dedicated to the victims of Fascism and War. (1960).


DSCH (Shostakovich) composed the quartet in 3 days in Dresden and was thus known for many years in the USSR as 'The Dresden Quartet'. The story goes that DSCH was shocked by the devastation left by the war and allowed the music to express his feelings. That this was all dressed in an anti-fascist way really suited the Soviet authorities and the work was pigeon-holed with the 'Leningrad' Symphony and The Year 1905. In other words, the authorities appropriated the music and it was performed everywhere becoming famous. Of his 15 quartets, this is the best known one … but not necessarily the best.

It's interesting that the Dresden Quartet was dedicated to the victims of fascism, but Dresden is considered by many an Allied war-crime. There's a contradiction right away. Another enigma would be why the composer filled the work with autobiographical quotations (Symphonies 1 and 5 (his reply to 'just criticism'), the yet hidden opera Lady Macbeth (revised and premiered two-years later as Katerina Izmailova), the Second Piano Trio, the First Cello Concerto, and, of course, that haunting D-S-C-H motif).

Another quotation is that of a prison song 'Tormented by lack of Freedom'. And herein lies the apparent central theme of the quartet. It would seem that DSCH was protesting, or objecting, his lack of freedom. He was the primary musical figurehead of the soviet propaganda machine and, as a former formalist, he knew from the past that job security was not an essential part of Soviet life … particularly since one could be broken as easily as created (and Shostakovich had a long list of friends who had found that out the hard way).


I think this is the easiest piece to demonstrate the duplicity of most of his work.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 07:08 PM   #8
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That's a fantastic post, avon, thanks also to everyone who's posted thus far. My own focus is on Symphony #13 "Babiy Yar (Sym. no.13, B flat minor, chorus (1962). Symphony for bass soloist, bass choir, and full orchestra, to settings of Yevgeni Yevtushenko's poems.

Symphony No.13 In B Flat minor, Op.113, I. Adagio: "Babi Yar" - Part One - YouTube

Symphony 13 performed in December 1962 covers a range of subjects, based on five poems. Shostakovich takes his criticism of the Soviet regime to its limits, but not under Stalin. This was in Nikita Khruschev's time, and relaxation of Soviet censorship (that didn't last long once folk started writing anti Stalin literature).

Babiy Yar is a Kiev ravine, the scene of massacres by the Nazis in September 1941, during their Soviet Union campaign. The "worst" was Eberhards sentence on the Kiev Jews (Yevrey) , the numbers massacred can easily be found, but it has been called "one of the worst single massacres in the history of the Holocaust" and not only Jews were massacred. This is why Shostakovich included Jewish elements in his usually typically Russian music, he loathed antisemitism. He was careful not to blatantly criticise the Soviet regime, but he did dissent peacefully and boldly on a range of subjects in this Symphony.


Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (Second Edition): Elizabeth Wilson: 9780691128863: Amazon.com: Books
Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (Second Edition): Elizabeth Wilson: 9780691128863: Amazon.com: Books


Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel; New, Complete, Uncensored Version by A. Anatoli Kuznetsov - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists

Symphony Transcript: Dmitri Shostakovich | Symphony No. 13 Babi Yar
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Old January 11th, 2013, 07:45 PM   #9

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Finally, a discussion on one of the great, if not the greatest composer of the twentieth century (still not sure whether I'd put Shosti or Gershwin in that spot). I remember playing his Festive Overture (op. 96) with my high school's top wind band on bass trombone (because we played the wind band version, the pizzicato section in the stringed instruments were instead played by the two bass trombones) last year for our spring concert.

The piece was written in just three days for (officially) the celebration of the 37th anniversary of the October Revolution in 1954, yet many (and I am somewhat partial to this theory) believe that he also wrote it as a secret celebration of the death of Stalin a year earlier in 1953.

However, probably my absolute favorite Shostakovich piece is his Symphony no. 5. What Shostakovich achieves in that work is just magical.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 07:48 PM   #10

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Here's some Shosti for you guys:

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