Composer of the Week: Dmitri ShostakovichDmitri Shostakovich was born in St. Petersburg Russia in 1906. He was considered a child prodigy as a pianist and composer. At age 13, he entered the Petrograd Conservatory (a school of music). After he graduated, he went on a tour as a pianist and composer.
In 1917, Russia’s Tsar (a king) was overthrown by the Communists. Despite being very supportive of Communism, Shostakovich was “up and down” with the government. For years, he was accepted and even promoted by the Communists. But in 1936, his music was denounced as being “inappropriate” (probably because the Communist leader, Joseph Stalin, thought the brass and percussion to be too loud). After World War II, Shostakovich again became popular and was even celebrated by the Soviet government, which asked him to write pieces for them. Almost unbelievably, his music was again denounced in 1948 for not being “Russian enough.” Eventually, he formally joined the Communist party and well-accepted until his death.
Shostakovich’s most popular works are his symphonies (he wrote 15 of them), particularly the 5th and 7th. He also wrote many string quartets, and a number of operas. His music is tonal, meaning that although it uses many chromatic (sharp and flat) notes, it still centers around a certain pitch and key. He was influenced by the composers Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev. Shostakovich was in poor health for his remaining 10 years, suffering heart attacks. He died of lung cancer in 1975. His music remains popular even today.Map of St. Petersburg, Russia
The Music of Dimitri ShostakovichStart at 43:00