Dmitri Shostakovich
1906-1975
Moody both by nature and often in reaction to the fear-laden environment of Stalinist repression, Dmitri Shostakovich had an unerring and Mahler-like propensity toward dark utterance and musical parody. Yet he also had a capacity for joyful expression that served as a balance to his depressive tendencies. During the 1920s, Shostakovich was hailed as the most promising of the new generation of Russian, i.e., “Soviet,” composers, one who had, in fact, captured the enthusiastic attention of Stalin himself. Yet after the Soviet dictator assailed Shostakovich’s opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the composer had to be careful not to fall victim to the dreaded Stalinist purges of the 1930s and beyond. In common with other Soviet composers Shostakovich had to write politically correct pieces to exalt the State, yet he still managed to leave a deep-felt and compelling legacy of powerful symphonic and chamber music that has continued to garner a growing audience throughout the world.