- Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich Russian pronunciation: [dmʲitrij ˌdmʲitrɪjevʲiʨ ʂɨstɐˈkɔvʲɪʨ] (Russian: Дмитрий Дмитриевич Шостакович; 25 September 1906 – 9 August 1975) was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century.
Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Leon Trotsky's chief of staff Mikhail Tukhachevsky, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the government. Nevertheless, he also received accolades and state awards and served in the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1947–1962) and the USSR (from 1962 until death).
After a period influenced by Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky, Shostakovich developed a hybrid style, as exemplified by Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934). This single work juxtaposed a wide variety of trends, including the neo-classical style (showing the influence of Stravinsky) and post-Romanticism (after Gustav Mahler). Sharp contrasts and elements of the grotesque characterize much of his music.
Shostakovich's orchestral works include 15 symphonies and six concerti. His symphonic work is typically complex and requires large scale orchestras. Music for chamber ensembles includes 15 string quartets, a piano quintet, two pieces for a string octet, and two piano trios. For the piano he composed two solo sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include three operas, and a substantial quantity of film music.
Born at 2 Podolskaya Ulitsa in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Shostakovich was the second of three children born to Dmitri Boleslavovich Shostakovich and Sofiya Vasilievna Kokoulina. Shostakovich's paternal grandfather (originally surnamed Szostakowicz) was of Polish Roman Catholic descent (his family roots trace to the region of the town of Vileyka in Belarus), but his immediate forebears came from Siberia. His paternal grandfather, a Polish revolutionary in the January Uprising of 1863–4, had been exiled to Narim (near Tomsk) in 1866 in the crackdown that followed Dmitri Karakozov's assassination attempt on Tsar Alexander II. When his term of exile ended, Boleslaw Szostakowicz decided to remain in Siberia. He eventually became a successful banker in Irkutsk and raised a large family. His son, Dmitriy Boleslavovich Shostakovich, the composer's father, was born in exile in Narim in 1875 and attended Saint Petersburg University, graduating in 1899 from the faculty of physics and mathematics. After graduation, Dmitriy Boleslavovich went to work as an engineer under Dmitriy Mendeleyev at the Bureau of Weights and Measures in Saint Petersburg. In 1903, he married Sofiya Vasilievna Kokoulina, another Siberian transplant to the capital. Sofiya herself was one of six children born to Vasiliy Yakovlevich Kokoulin, a Russian Siberian native.
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a child prodigy as a pianist and composer, his talent becoming apparent after he began piano lessons with his mother at the age of nine. (On several occasions, he displayed a remarkable ability to remember what his mother had played at the previous lesson, and would get "caught in the act" of pretending to read, playing the previous lesson's music when different music was placed in front of him.) In 1918, he wrote a funeral march in memory of two leaders of the Kadet party, murdered by Bolshevik sailors. In 1919, at the age of 13, he was allowed to enter the Petrograd Conservatory, then headed by Alexander Glazunov. Glazunov monitored Shostakovich's progress closely and promoted him. Shostakovich studied piano with Leonid Nikolayev, after a year in the class of Elena Rozanova, composition with Maximilian Steinberg, and counterpoint and fugue with Nikolay Sokolov, with whom he became friends. Shostakovich also attended Alexander Ossovsky's history of music classes. However, he suffered for his perceived lack of political zeal, and initially failed his exam in Marxist methodology in 1926. His first major musical achievement was the First Symphony (premiered 1926), written as his graduation piece at the age of nineteen.
After graduation, he initially embarked on a dual career as concert pianist and composer, but his dry style of playing (Fay comments on his "emotional restraint" and "riveting rhythmic drive") was often unappreciated. He nevertheless won an "honorable mention" at the First International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1927. After the competition Shostakovich met the conductor Bruno Walter, who was so impressed by the composer's First Symphony that he conducted it at its Berlin premiere later that year. Leopold Stokowski was equally impressed and gave the work its U.S. premiere the following year and also made the work's first recording.
Thereafter, Shostakovich concentrated on composition and soon limited performances primarily to those of his own works. In 1927 he wrote his Second Symphony (subtitled To October). While writing the symphony, he also began his satirical opera The Nose, based on the story by Gogol. In 1929, the opera was criticised as "formalist" by RAPM, the Stalinist musicians' organisation, and it opened to generally poor reviews in 1930.
1927 also marked the beginning of the composer's relationship with Ivan Sollertinsky, who remained his closest friend until the latter's death in 1944. Sollertinsky introduced Shostakovich to the music of Gustav Mahler, which had a strong influence on his music from the Fourth Symphony onwards. In 1932, he married his first wife, Nina Varzar. Initial difficulties led to a divorce in 1935, but the couple soon remarried when Nina became pregnant with their first child.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s he worked at TRAM, a proletarian youth theatre. Although he did little work in this post, it shielded him from ideological attack. Much of this period was spent writing his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District; it was first performed in 1934 and was immediately successful, both on a popular and official level. It was described as, "the result of the general success of Socialist construction, of the correct policy of the Party" and said that such an opera “could have been written only by a Soviet composer brought up in the best tradition of Soviet culture.”
Main article: Relationship between Dmitri Shostakovich and Joseph Stalin
In 1936 Shostakovich fell from official favour. The year began with a series of attacks on him in Pravda, in particular an article entitled Muddle Instead of Music. Shostakovich was away on a concert tour in Arkhangel’sk when he heard news of the Pravda article. Two days before the article was published on the evening of 28 January, a friend advised Shostakovich to attend the Bolshoi Theatre production of his opera. When he arrived, he saw that Stalin and the Politburo were there. In letters written to Ivan Sollertinsky, a close friend and advisor, Shostakovich recounts the horror with which he watched as Stalin shuddered every time the brass and percussion played too loudly. Equally horrifying was the way Stalin and his companions laughed at the love-making scene between Sergei and Katerina. Eyewitness accounts testify that Shostakovich was “white as a sheet” when he went to take his bow after the third act. The article, which condemned Lady Macbeth as formalist, "coarse, primitive and vulgar," was thought to have been instigated by Stalin; consequently, commissions began to fall off, and his income fell by about three quarters. Even Soviet music critics who had praised the opera were forced to recant in print, saying they "failed to detect the shortcomings of Lady Macbeth as pointed out by the Pravda. Shortly after the “Muddle Instead of Music” article, Pravda published another, “Ballet Falsehood,” that criticized Shostakovich’s ballet The Limpid Stream. Shostakovich did not expect this second article because the general public and press already accepted this music as “democratic,” or tuneful and accessible. However, Pravda criticized The Limpid Stream for incorrectly displaying peasant life on the collective farm. According to the authorities, the reality of the collective farm was too serious a theme to be displayed in an opera. Between the Fourth and Fifth symphonies during the years of 1936 and 1937, Shostakovich mainly composed film music in order to remain in Stalin’s favor. Stalin recognized that the popularity of Shostakovich’s music was useful as a propaganda tool, and therefore allowed him to continue composing. A public denunciation from the main party newspaper equaled a death sentence. This naturally put Shostakovich in a state of high anxiety as he attempted to write the Fourth Symphony. Rehearsal of the Fourth Symphony began that December, but the political climate made performance impossible. It was not performed until 1961, but Shostakovich did not repudiate the work: it retained its designation as his Fourth Symphony. A piano reduction was published in 1946.
More widely, 1936 marked the beginning of the Great Terror, in which many of the composer's friends and relatives were imprisoned or killed. His only consolation in this period was the birth of his daughter Galina in 1936; his son Maxim was born two years later.
The composer's response to his denunciation was the Fifth Symphony of 1937, which was, because of its fourth movement, musically more conservative than his earlier works. Premiering on 21 November 1937 in Leningrad, it was immensely popular and the success put Shostakovich in good standing once again. Even the authorities accepted it, and soon the piece was commissioned to be a part of the celebrations for the Twentieth Anniversary of the Revolution. Those who had earlier accused Shostakovich of formalism claimed that he had learned from his mistakes and had become a true Soviet artist. For example, fellow composer Dmitry Kabalevsky, who was among those who disassociated himself from Shostakovich when the Pravda article was published, praised the Fifth Symphony and congratulated Shostakovich for “not having given into the seductive temptations of his previous ‘erroneous’ ways.” It was also at this time that Shostakovich composed the first of his string quartets. His chamber works allowed him to experiment and express ideas which would have been unacceptable in his more public symphonic pieces. In September 1937, he began to teach composition at the Conservatory, which provided some financial security but interfered with his own creative work.
In 1939, before the Soviet forces invaded Finland, the Party Secretary of Leningrad Andrei Zhdanov commissioned a celebratory piece from Shostakovich, entitled Suite on Finnish Themes to be performed as the marching bands of the Red Army would be parading through the Finnish capital Helsinki. The Winter War was a humiliation for the Red Army, and Shostakovich would never lay claim to the authorship of this work. It was not performed until 2001.
After the outbreak of war between the Soviet Union and Germany in 1941, Shostakovich initially remained in Leningrad. He tried to enlist for the military but was turned away because he had bad eyesight. To compensate, Shostakovich became a volunteer for the Leningrad Conservatory’s firefighter brigade and delivered a radio broadcast to the Soviet people listen (help·info). The photograph for which he posed was published in newspapers throughout the country. But his greatest and most famous wartime contribution was the Seventh Symphony. The composer wrote the first three movements in Leningrad and completed the work in Kuibyshev, now a settlement in Volgograd Oblast, where he and his family had been evacuated. Whether or not Shostakovich really conceived the idea of the symphony with the siege of Leningrad in mind, it was officially claimed as a representation of the people of Leningrad’s brave resistance to the German invaders and an authentic piece of patriotic art at a time when morale needed boosting. The symphony was first premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and was soon performed abroad in London and the United States. However, the most compelling performance was by the Radio Orchestra in besieged Leningrad. The orchestra only had fourteen musicians left, so the conductor Karl Eliasberg had to recruit anyone who could play a musical instrument to perform the symphony.
In spring 1943 the family moved to Moscow. At the time of the Eighth Symphony's premiere, the tide had turned for the Red Army. Therefore the public, and most importantly the authorities, wanted another triumphant piece from the composer. Instead, they got the Eighth Symphony. While the Seventh Symphony depicts a heroic (and ultimately victorious) struggle against adversity, the Eighth Symphony of that year is perhaps the ultimate in sombre and violent expression within Shostakovich's output, resulting in it being banned until 1956. The Ninth Symphony (1945), in contrast, is an ironic Haydnesque parody, which failed to satisfy demands for a "hymn of victory." The war was won, and unfortunately Shostakovich’s “pretty” symphony was interpreted as a mockery of the Soviet Union’s victory rather than a celebratory piece. Shostakovich continued to compose chamber music, notably his Second Piano Trio (Op. 67), dedicated to the memory of Sollertinsky, with a bitter-sweet, Jewish-themed totentanz finale.
In 1948 Shostakovich, along with many other composers, was again denounced for formalism in the Zhdanov decree. Andrei Zhdanov, Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, teamed up with the General Secretary of the Composer’s Union, Tikhon Khrennikov, to accuse Shostakovich and other composers (such as Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitry Kabalevsky) for writing inappropriate and formalist music. The conference resulted in the publication of the Central Committee’s Decree “On V. Muradeli’s opera The Great Friendship,” which was targeted towards all Soviet composers and demanded that they only write “proletarian” music, or music for the masses. The accused composers, including Shostakovich, were summoned to make public apologies in front of the committee. Most of Shostakovich's works were banned, he was forced to publicly repent, and his family had privileges withdrawn. Yuri Lyubimov says that at this time "he waited for his arrest at night out on the landing by the lift, so that at least his family wouldn't be disturbed." The consequences of the decree for composers were harsh. Shostakovich was among those who were dismissed from the Conservatoire altogether. For Shostakovich, the loss of money was perhaps the largest blow. Others still in the Conservatory experienced an atmosphere that was thick with suspicion. No one wanted their work to be understood as formalist, so many resorted to accusing their colleagues of writing or performing anti-proletarian music.
In the next few years his compositions were divided into film music to pay the rent, official works aimed at securing official rehabilitation, and serious works "for the desk drawer". The latter included the Violin Concerto No. 1 and the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry. The cycle was written at a time when the post-war anti-Semitic campaign was already under way, and Shostakovich had close ties with some of those affected.
The restrictions on Shostakovich's music and living arrangements were eased in 1949, to secure his participation in a delegation of Soviet notables to the U.S. That year he also wrote his cantata Song of the Forests, which praised Stalin as the "great gardener." In 1951 the composer was made a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of RSFSR. Stalin's death in 1953 was the biggest step towards Shostakovich's official rehabilitation, which was marked by his Tenth Symphony. It features a number of musical quotations and codes (notably the DSCH and Elmira motifs), the meaning of which is still debated, whilst the savage second movement is said to be a musical portrait of Stalin himself. It ranks alongside the Fifth and Seventh as one of his most popular works. 1953 also saw a stream of premieres of the "desk drawer" works.
During the forties and fifties Shostakovich had close relationships with two of his pupils: Galina Ustvolskaya and Elmira Nazirova. He taught Ustvolskaya from 1937 to 1947. The nature of their relationship is far from clear: Mstislav Rostropovich described it as "tender" and Ustvolskaya claimed in a 1995 interview that she rejected a proposal of marriage from him in the fifties. However, in the same interview, Ustvolskaya's friend, Viktor Suslin, said that she had been "deeply disappointed" in him by the time of her graduation in 1947. The relationship with Nazirova seems to have been one-sided, expressed largely through his letters to her, and can be dated to around 1953 to 1956. In the background to all this remained Shostakovich's first, open marriage to Nina Varzar until her death in 1954. He married his second wife, Komsomol activist Margarita Kainova, in 1956; the couple proved ill-matched, and divorced three years later.
In 1954, Shostakovich wrote the Festive Overture, opus 96, that was used as the theme music for the 1980 Summer Olympics. In addition his '"Theme from the film Pirogov, Opus 76a: Finale" was played as the cauldron was lit at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
In 1959, Shostakovich 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). Bernstein recorded the symphony later that year in New York for Columbia Records.
Even before the Stalinist anti-Semitic campaigns in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Shostakovich showed an interest in Jewish themes. He was intrigued by Jewish music’s “ability to build a jolly melody on sad intonations.” Examples of works that included Jewish themes are the Fourth String Quartet (1949), the First Violin Concerto (1948), and the Four Monologues on Pushkin Poems (1952). He was further inspired to write with Jewish themes when he examined Moiser Beregovsky’s thesis on the theme of Jewish folk music in 1946. In 1948 Shostakovich acquired a book of Jewish folk songs, and from this he composed the song cycle From Jewish Poetry. He initially wrote eight songs that were meant to represent the hardships of being Jewish in the Soviet Union. However in order to disguise this, Shostakovich ended up adding three more songs meant to demonstrate the great life Jews had under the Soviet regime. Despite his efforts to hide the real meaning in the work, the Union of Composers refused to approve his music in 1949 under the pressure of the anti-Semitism that gripped the country. From Jewish Poetry could not be performed until after Stalin’s death in March 1953, along with all the other works that were forbidden.
Joining the Party
The year 1960 marked another turning point in Shostakovich's life: his joining of the Communist Party. The government wanted to appoint him General Secretary of the Composer’s Union, but in order to hold that position Shostakovich was required to attain Party membership. It was understood that Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party from 1958 to 1964, was looking for support from the leading ranks of the intelligentsia in an effort to create a better relationship with the Soviet Union’s artists. This event has been interpreted variously as a show of commitment, a mark of cowardice, the result of political pressure, and as his free decision. On the one hand, the apparat was undoubtedly less repressive than it had been before Stalin's death. On the other, his son recalled that the event reduced Shostakovich to tears, and he later told his wife Irina that he had been blackmailed. Lev Lebedinsky has said that the composer was suicidal. Once he joined the Party, several articles denouncing individualism in music were published in Pravda under his name, though he did not actually write them. In addition, in joining the party, Shostakovich was also committing himself to finally writing the homage to Lenin that he had promised before. His Twelfth Symphony, which portrays the Bolshevik Revolution and was completed in 1961, was dedicated to Vladimir Lenin and called “The Year 1917.” Around this time, his health also began to deteriorate. Shostakovich's musical response to these personal crises was the Eighth String Quartet, composed in only three days. The Eighth String Quartet was written for the survivors of the Dresden fire bombing that took place in 1945. Shostakovich subtitled the piece, "To the victims of fascism and war." Like the Tenth Symphony, this quartet incorporates quotations and his musical monogram.
In 1962 he married for the third time, to Irina Supinskaya. In a letter to his friend Isaak Glikman, he wrote, "her only defect is that she is 27 years old. In all other respects she is splendid: clever, cheerful, straightforward and very likeable." According to Galina Vishnevskaya, who knew the Shostakoviches well, this marriage was a very happy one: "It was with her that Dmitri Dmitriyevich finally came to know domestic peace... Surely, she prolonged his life by several years." In November Shostakovich made his only venture into conducting, conducting a couple of his own works in Gorky: otherwise he declined to conduct, citing nerves and ill health as his reasons.
That year saw Shostakovich again turn to the subject of anti-Semitism in his Thirteenth Symphony (subtitled Babi Yar). The symphony sets a number of poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the first of which commemorates a massacre of the Jews during the Second World War. Opinions are divided how great a risk this was: the poem had been published in Soviet media, and was not banned, but it remained controversial. After the symphony's premiere, Yevtushenko was forced to add a stanza to his poem which said that Russians and Ukrainians had died alongside the Jews at Babi Yar.
In 1965 Shostakovich raised his voice in defense of poet Joseph Brodsky, who was sentenced to five years of exile and hard labor. Shostakovich co-signed protests together with Yevtushenko and fellow Soviet artists Kornei Chukovsky, Anna Akhmatova, Samuil Marshak, and the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. After the protests the sentence was commuted, and Brodsky returned to Leningrad. Shostakovich joined the group of 25 distinguished intellectuals in signing the letter to Leonid Brezhnev asking not to rehabilitate Stalin.
In later life, Shostakovich suffered from chronic ill health, but he resisted giving up cigarettes and vodka. Beginning in 1958 he suffered from a debilitating condition that particularly affected his right hand, eventually forcing him to give up piano playing; in 1965 it was diagnosed as polio. He also suffered heart attacks the following year and again in 1971, and several falls in which he broke both his legs; in 1967 he wrote in a letter:
"Target achieved so far: 75% (right leg broken, left leg broken, right hand defective). All I need to do now is wreck the left hand and then 100% of my extremities will be out of order."
A preoccupation with his own mortality permeates Shostakovich's later works, among them the later quartets and the Fourteenth Symphony of 1969 (a song cycle based on a number of poems on the theme of death). This piece also finds Shostakovich at his most extreme with musical language, with twelve-tone themes and dense polyphony used throughout. Shostakovich dedicated this score to his close friend Benjamin Britten, who conducted its Western premiere at the 1970 Aldeburgh Festival. The Fifteenth Symphony of 1971 is, by contrast, melodic and retrospective in nature, quoting Wagner, Rossini and the composer's own Fourth Symphony.
Shostakovich died of lung cancer on 9 August 1975 and after a civic funeral was interred in the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow. Even before his death he had been commemorated with the naming of the Shostakovich Peninsula on Alexander Island, Antarctica.
He was survived by his third wife, Irina; his daughter, Galina; and his son, Maxim, a pianist and conductor who was the dedicatee and first performer of some of his father's works. Shostakovich himself left behind several recordings of his own piano works, while other noted interpreters of his music include his friends Emil Gilels, Mstislav Rostropovich, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Maria Yudina, David Oistrakh, and members of the Beethoven Quartet.
Shostakovich's opera Orango (1932) was found by Russian researcher Olga Digonskaya in his last home. It is being orchestrated by the British composer Gerard McBurney and will be premiered in December 2011 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Shostakovich's musical influence on later composers outside the former Soviet Union has been relatively slight, although Alfred Schnittke took up his eclecticism, and his contrasts between the dynamic and the static, and some of André Previn's music shows clear links to Shostakovich's style of orchestration. His influence can also be seen in some Nordic composers, such as Lars-Erik Larsson. Many of his Russian contemporaries, and his pupils at the Leningrad Conservatory, however, were strongly influenced by his style (including German Okunev, Boris Tishchenko, whose 5th Symphony of 1978 is dedicated to Shostakovich's memory, Sergei Slonimsky, and others). Shostakovich's conservative idiom has nonetheless grown increasingly popular with audiences both within and beyond Russia, as the avant-garde has declined in influence and debate about his political views has developed.
- For a complete list, see List of compositions by Dmitri Shostakovich.
- See also: Category:Compositions by Dmitri Shostakovich (thematical selection of works by Shostakovich).
Shostakovich's works are broadly tonal and in the Romantic tradition, but with elements of atonality and chromaticism. In some of his later works (e.g., the Twelfth Quartet), he made use of tone rows. His output is dominated by his cycles of symphonies and string quartets, each numbering fifteen. The symphonies are distributed fairly evenly throughout his career, while the quartets are concentrated towards the latter part. Among the most popular are the Fifth and Seventh Symphonies and the Eighth and Fifteenth Quartets. Other works include the operas Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, The Nose and the unfinished The Gamblers based on the comedy of Nikolai Gogol; six concertos (two each for piano, violin and cello); two piano trios; and a large quantity of film music.
Shostakovich's music shows the influence of many of the composers he most admired: Bach in his fugues and passacaglias; Beethoven in the late quartets; Mahler in the symphonies and Berg in his use of musical codes and quotations. Among Russian composers, he particularly admired Modest Mussorgsky, whose operas Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina he re-orchestrated; Mussorgsky's influence is most prominent in the wintry scenes of Lady Macbeth and the Eleventh Symphony, as well as in his satirical works such as "Rayok". Prokofiev's influence is most apparent in the earlier piano works, such as the first sonata and first concerto. The influence of Russian church and folk music is very evident in his works for unaccompanied choir of the 1950s.
Shostakovich's relationship with Stravinsky was profoundly ambivalent; as he wrote to Glikman, "Stravinsky the composer I worship. Stravinsky the thinker I despise." He was particularly enamoured of the Symphony of Psalms, presenting a copy of his own piano version of it to Stravinsky when the latter visited the USSR in 1962. (The meeting of the two composers was not very successful, however; observers commented on Shostakovich's extreme nervousness and Stravinsky's "cruelty" to him.)
Many commentators have noted the disjunction between the experimental works before the 1936 denunciation and the more conservative ones that followed; the composer told Flora Litvinova, "without 'Party guidance' ... I would have displayed more brilliance, used more sarcasm, I could have revealed my ideas openly instead of having to resort to camouflage." Articles published by Shostakovich in 1934 and 1935 cited Berg, Schoenberg, Krenek, Hindemith, "and especially Stravinsky" among his influences. Key works of the earlier period are the First Symphony, which combined the academicism of the conservatory with his progressive inclinations; The Nose ("The most uncompromisingly modernist of all his stage-works"); Lady Macbeth. which precipitated the denunciation; and the Fourth Symphony, described by Grove as "a colossal synthesis of Shostakovich's musical development to date". The Fourth Symphony was also the first in which the influence of Mahler came to the fore, prefiguring the route Shostakovich was to take to secure his rehabilitation, while he himself admitted that the preceding two were his least successful.
In the years after 1936, Shostakovich's symphonic works were outwardly musically conservative, regardless of any subversive political content. During this time he turned increasingly to chamber works, a field that permitted the composer to explore different and often darker ideas without inviting external scrutiny. While his chamber works were largely tonal, they gave Shostakovich an outlet for sombre reflection not welcomed in his more public works. This is most apparent in the late chamber works, which portray what Groves has described as a "world of purgatorial numbness"; in some of these he included the use of tone rows, although he treated these as melodic themes rather than serially. Vocal works are also a prominent feature of his late output, setting texts often concerned with love, death and art.
According to Shostakovich scholar Gerard McBurney, opinion is divided on whether his music is "of visionary power and originality, as some maintain, or, as others think, derivative, trashy, empty and second-hand." William Walton, his British contemporary, described him as "The greatest composer of the 20th century." Musicologist David Fanning concludes in Grove that, "Amid the conflicting pressures of official requirements, the mass suffering of his fellow countrymen, and his personal ideals of humanitarian and public service, he succeeded in forging a musical language of colossal emotional power."
Some modern composers have been critical. Pierre Boulez dismissed Shostakovich's music as "the second, or even third pressing of Mahler." The Romanian composer and Webern disciple Philip Gershkovich called Shostakovich "a hack in a trance." A related complaint is that Shostakovich's style is vulgar and strident: Stravinsky wrote of Lady Macbeth: "brutally hammering ... and monotonous." English composer and musicologist Robin Holloway described his music as "battleship-grey in melody and harmony, factory-functional in structure; in content all rhetoric and coercion."
In the 1980s, the Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen was critical of Shostakovich and refused to conduct his music. For instance, he said in 1987:
"Shostakovich is in many ways a polar counter-force for Stravinsky. [...] When I have said that the 7th symphony of Shostakovich is a dull and unpleasant composition, people have responded: 'Yes, yes, but think of the background of that symphony.' Such an attitude does no good to anyone."
It is certainly true that Shostakovich borrows extensively from the material and styles both of earlier composers and of popular music; the vulgarity of "low" music is a notable influence on this "greatest of eclectics". McBurney traces this to the avant-garde artistic circles of the early Soviet period in which Shostakovich moved early in his career, and argues that these borrowings were a deliberate technique to allow him to create "patterns of contrast, repetition, exaggeration" that gave his music the large-scale structure it required.
Shostakovich's works have quite a few social justice themes. For example, in Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the protagonist is doomed by the patriarchal society, and the opera ends with her tragic death. Shostakovich's close friend Galina Rostropovich wrote the opera, and he composed it. Shostakovich had actually been brought up with feminism; his godmother, Klavdia Lukashevich, was a feminist activist and was also a powerful influence on the young Dmitri Shostakovich.
Shostakovich was in many ways an obsessive man: according to his daughter he was "obsessed with cleanliness"; he synchronised the clocks in his apartment; he regularly sent cards to himself to test how well the postal service was working. Elizabeth Wilson's Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (1994 edition) indexes 26 references to his nervousness. Mikhail Druskin remembers that even as a young man the composer was "fragile and nervously agile". Yuri Lyubimov comments, "The fact that he was more vulnerable and receptive than other people was no doubt an important feature of his genius". In later life, Krzysztof Meyer recalled, "his face was a bag of tics and grimaces". In his lighter moods, sport was one of his main recreations, although he preferred spectating or umpiring to participating (he was a qualified football referee). His favourite football club was Zenit Leningrad, which he would watch regularly. He also enjoyed playing card games, particularly patience. Both light and dark sides of his character were evident in his fondness for satirical writers such as Gogol, Chekhov and Mikhail Zoshchenko. The influence of the latter in particular is evident in his letters, which include wry parodies of Soviet officialese. Zoshchenko himself noted the contradictions in the composer's character: "he is ... frail, fragile, withdrawn, an infinitely direct, pure child ... [but he is also] hard, acid, extremely intelligent, strong perhaps, despotic and not altogether good-natured (although cerebrally good-natured)".
He was diffident by nature: Flora Litvinova has said he was "completely incapable of saying 'No' to anybody." This meant he was easily persuaded to sign official statements, including a denunciation of Andrei Sakharov in 1973; on the other hand he was willing to try to help constituents in his capacities as chairman of the Composers' Union and Deputy to the Supreme Soviet. Oleg Prokofiev commented that "he tried to help so many people that ... less and less attention was paid to his pleas." Shostakovich was an agnostic and stated when asked if he believed in God, "No, and I am very sorry about it."
Orthodoxy and revisionism
Shostakovich's response to official criticism and, what is more important, the question of whether he used music as a kind of abstract dissidence is a matter of dispute. He outwardly conformed to government policies and positions, reading speeches and putting his name to articles expressing the government line. But it is evident he disliked many aspects of the regime, as confirmed by his family, his letters to Isaak Glikman, and the satirical cantata "Rayok", which ridiculed the "anti-formalist" campaign and was kept hidden until after his death. He was a close friend of Marshal of the Soviet Union Mikhail Tukhachevsky, who was executed in 1937 during the Great Purge.
It is also uncertain to what extent Shostakovich expressed his opposition to the state in his music. The revisionist view was put forth by Solomon Volkov in the 1979 book Testimony, which was claimed to be Shostakovich's memoirs dictated to Volkov. The book alleged that many of the composer's works contained coded anti-government messages. That would place Shostakovich in a tradition of Russian artists outwitting censorship that goes back at least to the early 19th century poet Pushkin. It is known that he incorporated many quotations and motifs in his work, most notably his signature DSCH theme. His longtime collaborator Evgeny Mravinsky said that "Shostakovich very often explained his intentions with very specific images and connotations." The revisionist perspective has subsequently been supported by his children, Maxim and Galina, and many Russian musicians. More recently, Volkov has argued that Shostakovich adopted the role of the yurodivy or holy fool in his relations with the government. Shostakovich's widow Irina, who was present during Volkov's visits to Shostakovich, denies the authenticity of Testimony. Other prominent revisionists are Ian MacDonald, whose book The New Shostakovich put forward more interpretations of his music, and Elizabeth Wilson, whose Shostakovich: A Life Remembered provides testimony from many of the composer's acquaintances.
Musicians and scholars including Laurel Fay and Richard Taruskin contest the authenticity and debate the significance of Testimony, alleging that Volkov compiled it from a combination of recycled articles, gossip, and possibly some information direct from the composer. Fay documents these allegations in her 2002 article 'Volkov's Testimony reconsidered', showing that the only pages of the original Testimony manuscript that Shostakovich had signed and verified are word-for-word reproductions of earlier interviews given by the composer, none of which are controversial. (Against this, it has been pointed out by Allan B. Ho and Dmitry Feofanov that at least two of the signed pages contain controversial material: for instance, "on the first page of chapter 3, where [Shostakovich] notes that the plaque that reads 'In this house lived [Vsevolod] Meyerhold' should also say 'And in this house his wife was brutally murdered'.") More broadly, Fay and Taruskin argue that the significance of Shostakovich is in his music rather than his life, and that to seek political messages in the music detracts from, rather than enhances, its artistic value.
In May 1958, during a visit to Paris, Shostakovich recorded his two piano concertos with André Cluytens, as well as some short piano works. These were issued by EMI on an LP, reissued by Seraphim Records on LP, and eventually digitally remastered and released on CD. Shostakovich recorded the two concertos in stereo in Moscow for Melodiya. Shostakovich also played the piano solos in recordings of the Sonata, Op. 40, for Cello and Piano with cellist Daniil Shafran and also with Mstislav Rostropovich; the Sonata, Op. 134, for Violin and Piano with violinist David Oistrakh; and the Trio, Op. 67, for Violin, Cello, and Piano with violinist David Oistrakh and cellist Miloš Sádlo. There is also a short sound film of Shostakovich as soloist in a 1930s concert performance of the closing moments of his first piano concerto. A color film of Shostakovich supervising one of his operas, from his last year, was also made.
- Soviet Union
- Hero of Socialist Labor (1966)
- Order of Lenin (1946, 1956, 1966)
- Order of the October Revolution (1971)
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1940)
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (1972)
- People's Artist of the USSR (1954)
- People's Artist of the RSFSR (1948)
- International Peace Prize (1954)
- Lenin Prize (1958 - for the 11th symphony "1905")
- State Stalin Prize in arts (1941 - 1st class, for piano quintet; 1942 - 1st class, 7th ("Leningrad") Symphony; 1946 - 2nd class, a trio, 1948, 1949, 1949, 1949, 1950 - 1st class, for the music for the film "Meeting on the Elbe", 1952 - 2nd class, 10 poems for chorus)
- USSR State Prize (1968 - for the poem "The Execution of Stepan Razin" for bass, chorus and orchestra)
- Glinka State Prize of the RSFSR (1974 - for the 14th string quartet and choral cycle "Fidelity")
- National Prize of Ukraine Taras Shevchenko (posthumously, 1976 - USSR State Prize named after Taras Shevchenko - for the opera "Katerina Ismailov," staged in KUGATOB Shevchenko)
- Sibelius Award (1958)
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1966)
- Léonie Sonning Music Prize (1974)
List of compositions
- ^ Russian: Дмитрий Дмитриевич Шостакович (help·info), tr. Dmitrij Dmitrievič Šostakovič
- ^ Sheinberg (2000) pp.207–309
- ^ Laurel Fay (2000), Shostakovich: A Life, p. 7
- ^ Elizabeth Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (2006), p. 4
- ^ Laurel Fay (2000), p. 9
- ^ Laurel Fay (2000), p. 17
- ^ Laurel Fay (2000), p. 18
- ^ The Cambridge Companion to Shostakovich, Cambridge Companions to Music by Pauline Fairclough (Editor), David Fanning (Editor). Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (17 November 2008) p.73
- ^ Laurel Fay (2000), p. 80
- ^ Dmitrii Shostakovich, Shostakovich: About Himself and His Times, compiled by L. Grigoryev and Y.. Platek, trans. Angus and Neilian Roxburgh (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981), p. 33
- ^ Classical Music. "When opera was a matter of life or death". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalmusic/3613515/When-opera-was-a-matter-of-life-or-death.html. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
- ^ Elizabeth Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2006), 128–129
- ^ McBurney, p. 287.
- ^ Downes, Olin. "Shostakovich Affair shows shift in point of view in the U.S.S.R.", The New York Times. 12 April 1936. p. X5.
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 130
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered,158
- ^ Roy Blokker, The Music Of Dimitri Shostakovich: The Symphonies (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, Inc 1979), 28
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 152
- ^ Edwards 2006, p. 98
- ^ MTV3: Shostakovitshin kiistelty teos kantaesitettiin (in Finnish)
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 171
- ^ Blokker, Shostakovich: The Symphonies,31
- ^ Blokker, Shostakovich: The Symphonies, 33–34; Wilson,Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 240
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 183.
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 252
- ^ "1980 Summer Olympics Official Report from the Organizing Committee, vol. 2" (PDF). p. 283. http://www.la84foundation.org/5va/reports_frmst.htm. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 40-megabyte document.
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 268
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 267–269
- ^ Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, 373–380
- ^ Ho and Feofanov, p. 390.
- ^ Manashir Yakubov, programme notes for the 1998 Shostakovich seasons at the Barbican, London).
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 340.
- ^ Ian MacDonald, The New Shostakovich (London:Plimlico, 2006), 247
- ^ Blokker, Shostakovich: The Symphonies, 37
- ^ Dmitri Shostakovich and Isaak Glikman, Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman p. 102.
- ^ Galina Vishnevskaya, Galina, A Russian Story p. 274.
- ^ Glikman p. 147.
- ^ Sirén, Vesa (6 April 2009). "Šostakovitšin apinaooppera löytyi ('The ape opera by Shostakovich was found')" (in fi). Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki: Sanoma Oy): pp. C1. http://www.hs.fi/kulttuuri/artikkeli/%C5%A0ostakovit%C5%A1in+kadonnut+apina-ooppera+kes%C3%A4ll%C3%A4+esityskuntoon/1135244971728. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
- ^ Artsjournal accessed 5 April 2009 (English)
- ^ Philadephia Orchestra program, October 27, 2011.
- ^ Musicweb International. Lars-Erik Larsson. Retrieved on 18 November 2005.
- ^ Fay (2000), pp. 119, 165, 224.
- ^ Grove pp. 288, 290.
- ^ Glikman p. 181.
- ^ Wilson (1994), pp. 375–377.
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 426.
- ^ Fay (2000), p. 88.
- ^ Grove p. 289.
- ^ Grove p. 290.
- ^ Glikman p. 315.
- ^ See also Grove p. 294.
- ^ Grove p. 300.
- ^ McBurney, p. 283.
- ^ British Composers in Interview by R Murray Schafer (Faber 1960)
- ^ Grove p. 280.
- ^ McBurney, p. 288.
- ^ McBurney, p. 290.
- ^ McBurney, p. 286.
- ^ Holloway, Robin. "Shostakovich horrors." The Spectator, 26 August 2000. Available at Find articles. Retrieved on 14 October 2007.
- ^ Salonen, Esa-Pekka & Otonkoski, Lauri: Kirja – puhetta musiikitta, p. 73. Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-30-6599-5
- ^ Haas, Shostakovich's Eighth: C minor Symphony against the Grain p. 125.
- ^ McBurney
- ^ Volkov, Solomon (2004). Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator. Chapter 1: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0375410821. http://books.google.com/books?id=x__ntDIlYGYC&lpg=PT47&ots=Jhf_B-prhX&dq=Shostakovich%20feminism&pg=PT47#v=onepage&q=feminism&f=false.
- ^ Michael Ardov,Memories of Shostakovich p. 139.
- ^ Wilson (1994), pp. 41–45.
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 183.
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 462.
- ^ Mentioned in his personal correspondence (Shostakovich, tr. Phillips (2001)), as well as other sources.
- ^ Quoted in Fay (2000), p. 121.
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 162.
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 40.
- ^ "Dmitri Shostakovich – a Composer for the 20th Century by Mark Harrison: MusicWeb(UK)". Musicweb-international.com. 1 January 2001. http://www.musicweb-international.com/shostakovich.htm. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- ^ Laurel Fay (2000), p. 263
- ^ Wilson (1994), p. 139.
- ^ Fay (2000), p. 4. "Whether Testimony faithfully reproduces Shostakovich's confidences ... in a form and context he would have recognized and approved for publication remains doubtful. Yet even were [its] claim to authenticity not in doubt, it would still furnish a poor source for the serious biographer.""
- ^ Fay, 2002
- ^ Ho & Feofanov, p. 211
- ^ om een reactie te plaatsen! (2008-01-09). "Dmitri Shostakovich filmed in 1975 during rehearsals". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5P4x2POjSM. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
- Kovnatskaya, Liudmila (ed.) (2000). D. D. Shostakovich: Between the moment and Eternity. Documents. Articles. Publications. St Petersburg: Kompozitor.
- Kovnatskaya, Liudmila (ed.) (1996). D. D. Shostakovich: Collections to the 90th anniversary. St Petersburg: Kompozitor.
- Ardov, Michael (2004). Memories of Shostakovich. Short Books. ISBN 1-904095-64-X.
- Edwards, Robert (2006). White Death: Russia's War on Finland 1939–40. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0297846302.
- Fay, Laurel (2002). "Volkov's Testimony Reconsidered". In Hamrick Brown, Malcolm (ed). A Shostakovich Casebook. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21823-3.
- Fay, Laurel (2001). "Dmitri Shostakovich". Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan Publishers.
- Fay, Laurel (2000). Shostakovich: A Life. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513438-9.
- Haas, David. "Shostakovich's Eighth: C minor Symphony against the Grain". In Bartlett (ed). Shostakovich in Context.
- Ho, Allan; Dmitry Feofanov (1998). Shostakovich Reconsidered. Toccata Press. ISBN 0-907689-56-6.
- MacDonald, Ian (1990). The New Shostakovich. Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-089-3.
- MacDonald, Ian. "Shostakovichiana". Music Under Soviet Rule. http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/dmitri.html. Retrieved 17 August 2005.
- McBurney, Gerard (2002). "Whose Shostakovich?". In Hamrick Brown, Malcolm (ed). A Shostakovich Casebook. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21823-3.
- van Rijen, Onno. "Opus by Shostakovich". Shostakovich & Other Soviet Composers. http://home.wanadoo.nl/ovar/shosopus/shosopus.htm. Retrieved 17 August 2005.
- Sheinberg, Esti (29 December 2000). Irony, satire, parody and the grotesque in the music of Shostakovich. UK: Ashgate. p. 378. ISBN 0-7546-0226-5. http://www.dschjournal.com/journal15/books15.htm. [dead link]
- Shostakovich, Dmitri; Glikman, Isaak; tr. Phillips, Anthony (2001). Story of a Friendship: The Letters of Dmitry Shostakovich to Isaak Glikman. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3979-5.
- Shostakovich, Dmitri; Volkov, Solomon (2000). Testimony (7th ed.). Proscenium (publisher). ISBN 0-87910-021-4.
- Volkov, Solomon (2004). Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41082-1.
- Wilson, Elizabeth (1994). Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04465-1.
- Wilson, Elizabeth (2006). Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (revised edition). Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-22050-9.
- ISBN 5-901724-21-6, ISBN 978-5-901724-21-7.
- Complete catalogue of works, with many additional comments by Sikorski
- The Shostakovich Debate: Interpreting the composer's life and music
- Journey of Dmitri Shostakovich – an interview with filmmaker Helga Landauer
- Epitonic.com: Dimitri Shostakovich featuring tracks from Written With The Heart's Blood
- Video of Shostakovich, at a rehearsal of his opera The Nose in 1975
- BBC Presenter Stephen Johnson on Shostakovich and Depression
- Altovaya sonata. Dmitriy Shostakovich (1981) (Sonata for Viola), documentary film on Shostakovich's life, and difficulties with Khrennikov and Stalin
- Complete opus list, comprehensive discography, bibliography, filmography, list of first performances and links by Yosuke Kudo
- Archive of BBC's "Discovering Music" radio show, featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, Symphony No. 10, String Quartet No. 8, and Cello Concerto No. 1.
- Various pieces by Shostakovich in streaming media by Classical Music Archives
- Shostakovich: the 24 preludes Op. 34
- University of Houston Moderated Discussion List: Dmitri Shostakovich and other Russian Composers
- Shostakovich: the string quartets
- Shostakovich: the string quartets in context
- Interview with the composer's son, conductor Maxim Shostakovich by Bruce Duffie, July 10, 1992
- Paterson, Harry (21 December 2000). "Shostakovich: Revolutionary life, revolutionary legacy". Weekly Worker. http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1000592. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- Huseinova, Aida (2003). "Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony: The Azerbaijani Link – Elmira Nazirova". Azerbaijan International. pp. 54–59. http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai111_folder/111_articles/111_shostokovich_elmira.html. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- Ho, Allan B. & Feofanov, Dmitry (2011). "The Shostakovich Wars" (PDF). Southern Illinois University. http://www.siue.edu/~aho/ShostakovichWars/SW.pdf. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
Léonie Sonning Music Prize Laureates 1959–1980
Igor Stravinsky (1959) · Leonard Bernstein (1965) · Birgit Nilsson (1966) · Witold Lutosławski (1967) · Benjamin Britten (1968) · Boris Christoff (1969) · Sergiu Celibidache (1970) · Arthur Rubinstein (1971) · Yehudi Menuhin (1972) · Dmitri Shostakovich (1973) · Andrés Segovia (1974) · Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1975) · Mogens Wöldike (1976) · Olivier Messiaen (1977) · Jean-Pierre Rampal (1978) · Janet Baker (1979) · Marie-Claire Alain (1980)
Mstislav Rostropovich (1981) · Isaac Stern (1982) · Rafael Kubelík (1983) · Miles Davis (1984) · Pierre Boulez (1985) · Sviatoslav Richter (1986) · Heinz Holliger (1987) · Peter Schreier (1988) · Gidon Kremer (1989) · György Ligeti (1990) · Eric Ericson (1991) · Georg Solti (1992) · Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1993) · Krystian Zimerman (1994) · Yuri Bashmet (1995) · Per Nørgård (1996) · András Schiff (1997) · Hildegard Behrens (1998) · Sofia Gubaidulina (1999) · Michala Petri (2000)
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