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Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75)


Dmitri Shostakovich's life was characterised by various tussles with the Soviet artistic authorities - as their musical tastes and requirements ebbed and flowed, Shostakovich's style had to change with them. The most notorious example of this was his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - an amoral tale of adultery and murder which scandalised the authorities and led to a blunt and direct dressing-down in Pravda. Shostakovich's work was described as "muddle instead of music", and he consciously changed his compositional style in response - resulting in the more conservative (though ironically much more popular) 5th Symphony.

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In addition to numerous other symphonies - some bombastic propaganda works, some more personal and with tragic undertones - he also wrote fifteen string quartets in which a more intimate style can be heard, as well as a set of 24 Preludes and Fugues for the piano. There is also a huge amount of film music - mostly now rather obscure (having not fared well in the years and decades of Soviet decline and collapse).


You can view Presto's hand-picked selection of favourite Shostakovich recordings here.

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