The Third Symphony was first performed in January 1930, its final movement setting a text by Semyon Isaakovich Kirsanov praising May Day and the revolution. Shostakovich stated that the work “expresses the spirit of peaceful reconstruction” and yet much of the music is dark and sombre in tone.
The Tenth Symphony is one of his most popular and frequently heard works. It was first performed in December 1953 following the death earlier that year of Stalin, although Shostakovich had been working on much of the material incorporated in the symphony for many years. The great Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya claimed that the symphony was “a composer’s testament of misery, forever damning a tyrant.”