Many artists have claimed to be products of the Bolshevik Revolution, but Dmitri Shostakovich (September 25, 1906 – August 9, 1975) stands alone in level of celebrity and artistic achievement.
In light of the current political events in Ukraine I wanted to post about Dimitri Shostakovich and his fascinating story about living under the Lenin and Stalin regimes. My first exposure to Shostakovich was the the following clip from Disney’s Fantasia 2000.
I encourage you to read the full biography, but here is a sampling of what you will find in the link below.
Russia’s new Leninist government recognized Shostakovich as a valuable political tool. During the 1920s, the Soviet cultural bureau was eager to set new trends and provided him with commissions for the concert hall and stage. By the early 1930s, however, Shostakovich’s avant-grade forms, brash harmonies, and sarcastic idioms brought him into disfavor with the regime then headed by Stalin. Although popular amongst Russian audiences, he was forced to suppress new works and remove others from the active repertoire. For the remainder of his life, Shostakovich bore the weight of a hypocritical order that threatened to destroy his life while at the same time decorating him with awards and promoting him abroad as the Revolution’s musical prodigy.
If you’re like me, knowing more about Shostakovich’s story makes the music really come to life. I’m in awe of what he was able to accomplish given the microscope under which he lived his life.