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Dmitri Shostakovich is the author of 15 symphonies, operas, “The Nose”, “Players”, the ballets “Bolt,” “Golden Age”, the musical comedy “Moscow – Cheremushki”. He wrote music for 35 films.
He was born in St. Petersburg in 1906 in the family of an engineer-chemist. Undoubtedly, education largely determines the future of man. For Shostakovich, it has defined the profession. His father was a passionate music lover, mother – gifted pianist. She instilled in her son playing skills. An exceptionally talented teenager attracted the attention of the Director of the Petrograd Conservatory, Alexander Glazunov, and when Shostakovich was 13 he became a student.
The result of years of the Conservatory was a diploma work – the composer’s First Symphony. The work was almost the only example of the Soviet Symphonic Music of 20-ies. It has successfully withstood the test of time and still takes place in the concert repertoire. In the 20-ies it appreciated the ease and freedom of imagination, charming eccentricity, bright “spring” colors. During the 30’s it became clear that the symphony is not so cloudless that it is sad and there are episodes of mourning colors, drama. And in the 50’s the critics already wrote about the heroic and tragic theme of Shostakovich’s works. (Morton, 2007).
Shostakovich graduated from the Conservatory as a pianist in 1923, and in 1925 – as a composer. He became the first Russian composer to “roll out” in the cinema symphony orchestra playing specially written film music.
The hardest period
Shostakovich met the siege of Leningrad in the besieged city. Since the beginning of the blockade, he started the work on the Seventh Symphony. When the first performance of a heroic symphony in 1942 was broadcast from the siege of Leningrad, the entire country experienced the tragedy of people imprisoned in the city. It was a real feat, since the hungry and exhausted musicians went to daily rehearsals, preferring to do the things they love than to die slowly at home. In 1942 the composer was evacuated to Kuibyshev, and in 1943 he arrived in Moscow, where he was invited to teach at the Moscow Conservatory. (Fay, 1999, p95)
In 40-ies the composer has created amazing works – Eighth Symphony (1943), Trio for Piano (1944), Concerto for Violin number 1 (1947-48). Their serious, even tragic character again aroused resentment and misunderstanding of the authorities concerned with the ideological content of music in connection with the beginning of the Cold War. From art, it was required to be understood.
At the conference, which is famous for the speech of Zhdanov, Shostakovich was among the main characters of harassment. As a result, the composer started to write less, limiting his artistic career by teaching at the conservatories. His life was a passion for music, years of inspiration, and quite earthly passion about his name: envy, misunderstanding, a desire to push his creativity in the framework.
In his works, Shostakovich embodied world philosophy, he was a supranational musician. The names of the “zealots” are remembered by a few people, they are transitory, but his music is eternal. Dmitri Shostakovich died in August 1975.
Shostakovich’s music has always had a very pronounced artistic force. His art is permeated with faith in the mind of man, his dignity and his freedom. It is permeated with love to man and exposes him to the hostile forces and systems, suppressing his dignity: such as fascism, totalitarianism and other forms of tyranny.
In the work of Soviet composer there are the traditions of Beethoven, Bach, Mahler and Russian composers of the XIX and XX centuries, including Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev.
Fay, Laurel. (1999). Shostakovich: A Life. Oxford University Press: USA
Morton, Brian. (2007). Shostakovich: His Life and Music (Life & Times). Haus Publishers Ltd.