Dmitri Shostakovich

Festive Overture

            Shostakovich is clearly regarded as one of the small group of the twentieth century’s most significant composers.   Yet, on no other of his peers has more ink been spilt attempting to understand what thought processes and motivations reveal a composer’s own true self than that on Shostakovich.   Was he a musically gifted, but incredibly naïve, tool of the worst instincts of Stalinism--or, a wondrously deceptive, resident critic of the terrors of Soviet Communism?

Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, op. 10

        Shostakovich is probably the most successful of those who sought to continue to write symphonies in the twentieth century--long after most had abandoned the form for other attractions.  To be sure, others wrote symphonies as well during this time, but generally not with the long-term commitment or at the same high level of quality in a truly contemporary idiom as did Shostakovich.  His artistic life is a case study in the tragic difficulty of being true to one’s own sense of artistic integrity and vision, while balancing that with the practical necessity of having any opportunity to exist at all--both as an artist, or even as a human being--in a oppressive totalitarian society.  Accordingly, his compositions varied in their styles over the decades.  Those of his early maturity w

Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op. 47

           On no other major recent composer has more ink been spilt attempting to understand what thought processes and motivations reveal the true inner self, than on Shostakovich.  The evidence is fought over, sifted, and re-sifted to build the case that he was a musically-gifted, but incredibly naïve, tool of the worst instincts of Stalinism.  Or, on the other hand, a musically-gifted, but wondrously deceptive, resident critic of the terrors of Soviet Communism.  Even—something of both.  The jury of experts is still out, and will more than likely remain so, for Shostakovich left a maddeningly ambiguous record of his inner thoughts.  He was capable of writing the most satirical compositions that scathingly excoriated the excesses and flaws of Western Democracies—it is informing to re

Symphony No. 7 in C Major, op. 65

            Will the real Dmitri Shostakovich please hold up his hand—or at least the composer of Symphony No.

Symphony No. 9 in E-Flat Major, op. 70

            Will the real Dmitri Shostakovich please hold up his hand—or at least the composer of Symphony No.