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Introspection Late Night Partying. Rainy Day Relaxation Road Trip. Romantic Evening Sex All Themes. Articles Features Interviews Lists. Streams Videos All Posts. My Profile. Advanced Search. AllMusic Featured Composition Noteworthy. Genre Symphony Classical. Period Modern. Comp Date Avg Duration Share on facebook twitter tumblr. Complete Excerpt. Dmitri Shostakovich, Vol. Shostakovich: Pioneer - Symphonies No.
Scott Simon. Dmitri Shostakovich's most famous work, the Fifth Symphony, reflects his tenuous position as a creative artist in a repressive state. But the composer's overall contributions were stunningly diverse. Dmitri Shostakovich in Getty Images hide caption. Dmitri Shostakovich was known as the great Soviet composer. Note, not Russian. He spent his life in the old USSR. And though some of his music was banned, much of it was celebrated by Soviet leaders as an example of the artistic excellence that could flourish under Soviet socialism.
Today, Shostakovich is known as one of the most important composers of the 20th century, apart from the ideology under which he lived. Orchestras around the world have been marking the centennial of his birth on September 25th by performing his symphonies, ballets and chamber music.
We've invited conductor Marin Alsop to talk about Dmitri Shostakovich's music with us. She recently conducted an all-Shostakovich program at the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. He lived and worked under a cruel tyranny. Can that be separated from his music?
From my point of view, from the conductor's perspective - where my role really is to be the messenger of the composer - it's very, very difficult to separate the man from the political environment he found himself in, because of course that did influence everything he wrote.
Yet at the same time it's so paradoxical and ambiguous as to what his particular viewpoints were because, of course, during the Stalinist regime he really couldn't make any viewpoint known except subtly through his music.
And it depicts, you know, the loyal and industrious factory workers and what they're up against. And so on the surface, of course, it's an extremely programmatic and almost scripted musical experience. ALSOP: I hear, first of all, you know, starting with the snare drum and then the brass fanfare, I mean this couldn't be more patriotic in almost any country. This was a very, I think, appropriate political statement.
But then I hear the subtext of this faint theme - bom, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bom, bop, bop - from Tchaikovsky, the opening of the Fourth Symphony, which is all about the inescapability of fate. So there's this backdrop of irony and sarcasm from Shostakovich - and of course that's an important element through all of his works. And of course I wish I could have met the man, but he was apparently, you know, anything but a really authoritative figure in person. He was quite fragile. SIMON: One of the sections of the ballet is called The Bureaucrat, which these days wouldn't seem to have winner written all over it as the title for a single.
I mean, you can just see these ignorant bureaucrats interacting and stumbling over each other. And it also shows a side of Shostakovich that we rarely talk about, which a lighter side and a side that was filled with overt humor. Let's listen to this. But throughout this suite you hear a variety of styles, particularly in the waltz sections, which are kind of along the lines of the jazz waltzes. In Moscow in , at a now notorious conference presided over by Andrey Zhdanov, a prominent Soviet theoretician, the leading figures of Soviet music including Shostakovich were attacked and disgraced.
As a result, the quality of Soviet composition slumped in the next few years. With the issue of an infamous decree in the year by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Shostakovich career eclipsed. After that for a while, he indulged himself in works that glorified Soviet life or history. He was appointed the first secretary of the Soviet Composers Union in In , Shostakovich wrote the Festive Overture, opus 96; it was used as the theme music for the Summer Olympics.
In , he appeared on stage in Moscow at the end of a concert performance of his Fifth Symphony, congratulating Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for their performance part of a concert tour of the Soviet Union.
His personal influence was reduced by the termination of his teaching activities at both the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories. Yet he was not completely intimidated, and, in his String Quartet No.
His Symphony No. Yet Shostakovich was undeterred by this, and his deeply impressive Symphony No. The composer had visited the United States in , and in he made an extended tour of western Europe, including Italy where already he had been elected an honorary member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome and Great Britain, where he received an honorary doctorate of music at the University of Oxford.
In Shostakovich raised his voice in defense of poet Joseph Brodsky, who was sentenced to five years of exile and hard labor.
After the protests, the sentence was commuted, and Brodsky returned to Leningrad. 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 influence can also be seen in some Nordic composers, such as Lars-Erik Larsson. Dmitry Shostakovich was considered as a strong supporter of communalism.
Dmitri Shostakovich died of lung cancer on 9 August A civic funeral was held. Even before his death, he had been commemorated with the naming of the Shostakovich Peninsula on Alexander Island, Antarctica. His music not only revealed his sufferings but also of the pain of the people around him. 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.
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