Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Dmitri Shostakovitch was a renowned composer during the 20th Century. He was born in 1906 in St. Petersburg, and attended the Petrograd Conservatory. The style of music he wrote was very controversial at the time in Soviet Russia. His earlier compositions were satirical in nature, which led him to be attacked by the Soviet press and threatened by Stalin. Over time, his compositions became more dark and defiant against the Soviet government. Orchestras and ballets were wary of performing his compositions because they feared the Soviet government's reaction. Shostakovitch was basically a blacklisted composer at the height of the Reign of Terror when he wrote one of his most famous symphonies- Symphony No. 5.
If you listen to it, you can imagine the loss of control Shostakovitch was feeling, as well as the feeling of desolation and apathy. The symphony is rather long, but if you listen to just the beginning then skip around, you'll get a feel for the emotion he portrays.

As a side note, Shostakovitch would include his German initials in several of his compositions - D. Sch. These translate to the note names D, E-flat, C, and B. The combination of these notes appear as a main motif in many of his compositions, especially his String Quartet No. 8. The theme is the first thing you hear in this quartet, and if you keep listening, you can hear it change from the slow motif to a more quick, agitated version of the same notes.

No comments: