Dmitri Shostakovich was a leading composer of the 20th century and Soviet Russia’s most important symphonist * His adult life was lived entirely inside the USSR and his music was deeply affected by political events there, especially under Stalin * While still a boy, studied at Petrograd Conservatoire under Glazunov and Steinberg, graduating as a brilliant pianist and composer * Early works, including first four symphonies, are dissonant, colourful, satirical and theatrical, reflecting enthusiasm for 1920s modernism * The opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District played all over the world before, in 1936, it caused a scandal with Soviet authorities, and composer was subjected to official campaign of repression and harassment * Monumental 5th Symphony (1937), one of most popular orchestral works of 20th century, moved towards a simpler style, and also brought him back towards official favour * During World War ll, 7th Symphony, the ‘Leningrad’, became an emblem all over allied world for struggle against Fascist Germany * In 1948 was again subjected to humiliating campaign of official persecution and vilification, which continued up to and beyond the death of Stalin (1953) * In 1960, against his wishes, persuaded into joining the Communist Party (CPSS), a low point in his life marked by composing 8th Quartet as ‘an obituary for myself’ * Continual illness in his last years is reflected in preoccupation with death shown in pieces like 14th Symphony and Michelangelo Suite for voice and orchestra * Two cycles, of 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets, are the peaks of his output, but his violin, cello and piano concertos are played by most of the world’s soloists, as are his 24 preludes and fugues for piano * Overall his music characterised by powerful sense of mockery and irony mixed with grandeur and despair, and absolute mastery of large-scale forms.
Works by Dmitri Shostakovich include:
Symphonies 1-15 (1925-71)
String Quartets 1-15 (1938-74)
Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1932) Opera in 4 acts
Film-music including New Babylon (1929), The Gadfly (1955), Hamlet (1964)
Works by Shostakovich are represented by Boosey & Hawkes in the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, mainland China, Korea and Taiwan.
"What are human emotions? Not only lyricism, sadness and tragedy, but laughter. When a listener laughs loudly during my symphonic concert, it doesn’t shock me a bit. On the contrary, it pleases me." — Dmitri Shostakovich