Dmitri Shostakovich, the great Russian composer, is the ultimate Iron Man! He defeated, with his amazing music, Stalin’s Iron Fist in spite of the Iron Curtain.
Pushkin, Tolstoy and Shostakovich have helped Russia’s spirit endure the darkest moments of its history: the triumph of intense culture over politics.
Shostakovich, this fragile, shy, nervous, unassuming, fidgety little person, had a difficult and complicated relationship with the Soviet government. He lived in constant fear of persecution by a government that needed him for its propaganda machine.
He was influenced first by Prokofiev and Stravinsky (needs a post all to himself) and later by Mussorgsky and Mahler; I can’t get his music (or his life story) out of my mind: the only way to put it to rest is to write about him.
What I’ve learned from my hero, Isaiah Berlin, is that people (in this case Shostakovich, this tragic figure), can not and should not be judged, from the safety of the 21st century western world, for having failed to stand up against Stalin’s terror machine. It’s just too easy to send others to their death…
“Shostakovich produced a wide range of music. In addition to the 15 symphonies for which he is best known, he wrote operas, film scores, ballets and compositions for theater. He also maintained ties with the literary community by setting the works of prominent Soviet writers (Babi Yar is one of them) to music.”
His symphonies number 5, 8 and 10 are my favorites—music notes are mightier than swords…
I hope you will find a little time to listen to this achingly beautiful music that celebrates life in all its glory and… gore.
Shostakovich : Symphony N° 8, III
Shostakovich: Gustavo Dudamel Symphony 10 II
Shostakovic: String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, II