Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dmitri Shostakovich
(Дмитрий Дмитриевич Шостакович)
Born September 25, 1906
Died August 9, 1975

Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian composer whose styles were diverse and experimental, with music that was often satirical and stylistic. That was seen as pretty neat by his contemporaries and fans around the world, but not so much by Stalin when the infamous Five Year Plan was set in place in 1928. Suddenly, any music that even nodded toward Western styles became taboo, to the point that jazz was banned in 1932. Shostakovich found himself and his music condemned by Stalin, and he was harshly criticized in the press. He responded with his Symphony No. 5 (listen here). He presented it to the press as being evidence of his repentance, of his willingness to produce music that was purely Russian in an effort to be accepted again by his country's government. Its listeners, however, found that far from meekly catering to the musical whims of his country's officials, Shostakovich had produced a powerful and rebellious piece that screamed of his unwillingness to roll over and accept their demands. Despite its nature, it earned him the favor of the public and the authorities. He continued to produce music through the 1960s.

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