Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Symphonie no.5

Many years ago I read the biography of Dmitri Shostakovich, (1906-1975), the great XXth Century composer who lived in what can only be described as a very difficult time in Soviet Russia under Stalin and then under years of mediocrity under various Soviet rulers in an crumbling and creaky country.

I love his music, it is so expressive and so very different. Composition was not easy in those days as he had to fit the official party image and doctrine. He would be severely criticized and attacked by Communist Party ideologues often at the urging of Stalin who played a game of cat and mouse with Shostakovich. In Russia, ethnic origin always plays an important part in how the regime views a person, Shostakovich's ancestor were Polish, the family became Russified after living in Russia for several generations. However that was not sufficient for the Soviet Authorities who viewed him with suspicion.

Stalin who remains famous as a violent if not deranged, cruel dictator, had countless people executed for a mere trifling. When he died, Shostakovich was surprised he had survived, so many other artists had perished. Strangely enough Stalin died 5 March 1953 the same day as Sergei Prokofiev, another great composer.

His music is haunting and I like all his work, I picked Symphonie no.5, the conductor is Semyon Bychkov.




                                   Dmitri Shostakovich







6 comments:

  1. Poor bastard walked on egg shells his entire life.

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    1. yes but he left us with beautiful music.

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  2. we recently heard the PSO perform this one; such complexity

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    1. I only wish they played him more often at the National Arts Centre, instead of the usual Mozart

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  3. The Fifth is the usual starting point, but in our school gram library they had the Eighth - a much greater work, IMO. The Fifth has all of DDS's thumbprints, but it's compromised by being an apology for the outrageousness of its predecessor.

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  4. David thank you, I think that Shostakovich offers a little more challenge to the listener than other more popular composers who are often played too much. I made that remark to Will the other night after a concert at the National Art Centre in Ottawa. Am a little tired of always Beethoven or Mozart.
    Another horror in program notes at another concert on 18th century music, Frederick II of Prussia was presented as F. Le Grand. I pointed out to the management of the NAC that Le Grand was not his family name. This is what budget cutbacks mean, no time to properly research and correct notes.

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