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Thread: Dmitri Shostakovich

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    Senior Member Rachovsky's Avatar
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    Default Dmitri Shostakovich

    Here is the first of our Composer Guestbooks.

    Dmitri Shostakovich was quite the interesting man, so hopefully this will be an interesting one.

    As I may have stated before, I'm going to see his Symphony No. 14 in March in London.
    I've never been to a live performance and I might be going alone. I'm only 16, so does anyone have some suggestions? Some etiquette or anything?

    Anyways, lets hear it. What do you find interesting about Shostakovich? He outlived Joseph Stalin by a few decades, unlike poor Prokofiev who only lived one day after Stalin died.

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Almost two-dozen people expressed their opinions regarding Shostakovich symphonies in this poll.

    I know he has works of some dodgy quality (Symphonies 2, 3 and 12, Song of the Forest, et al...) but-- who else seriously contends for the title "greatest symphonist to have composed exclusively in the 20th century?"
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Senior Member Ephemerid's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    I LOVE his Symphony No. 10-- the mournful 1st movement (which is not mourning the death of Stalin but rather his life), the terrifying and violent 2nd movement, the tentative waltz of the 3rd movement which grows bolder (and angrier?), and the hilarious, mocking and triumphant finale, the big F*** YOU of the huge D-S-C-H near the end (being directed I think, to Stalin, who made his life, and millions of others, a hell on earth)-- that hilarious bassoon melody, the funny dotted rhythm and one solo instrument is caught "off key" and out of step with the others-- there's a sense of relief almost as if to say "Ding, dong, the witch is dead!" But the first movement is the best-- a monumental and tragic work.

    And his 8th quartet, which is one of the saddest pieces of music ever written, though it has its moments of black humour as well (the odd long sustained notes in the third movement, as if there is a glitch in the bureaucratic machinery) and a truly demonic waltz. Its a very bleak piece. I would LOVE to see this piece performed live, though I am truly afraid of how I might react to this piece (listening to this piece is almost TOO intense for me emotionally).

    And the fun and delightful Piano Concerto No. 2 was the first piece of his I ever heard-- gosh, I must've been fourteen? fifteen? The second movement just pulls on the heartstrings so much!

    I used to have the Rubio Quartet's recording of all 15 of his 4tets, which sadly, I no longer own. The very atonal 13th quartet is really great-- all in one movement, very anguished and the high piercing ending is such a shock and leaves me in tears.

    Shostakovich is defintely one of my favourites, though I have much much more of him to explore (I've heard other pieces of his, such as his cello concerto & others, but I haven't given those pieces a more thorough listening).
    Last edited by Ephemerid; Jan-15-2008 at 05:00.
    "There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.” ~ Claude Debussy

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    I just got the complete symphonies of Shostakovich with Mtislav Rostropovich, I haven't listened to most of them yet, but as of now my personal favourite is number 5. Does anybody have any opinions on this set as I have not yet gotten into it.

    Ditto on the second piano concerto.

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    I love his 11th, though his 10th is a close second. Someone else here mentioned something about the 11th a while back-- can't recall who.

    Another which cannot be omitted is the 15th...very unique and interesting compared to the others.

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    Senior Member BuddhaBandit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachovsky View Post
    Here is the first of our Composer Guestbooks.

    Dmitri Shostakovich was quite the interesting man, so hopefully this will be an interesting one.

    As I may have stated before, I'm going to see his Symphony No. 14 in March in London.
    I've never been to a live performance and I might be going alone. I'm only 16, so does anyone have some suggestions? Some etiquette or anything?

    Anyways, lets hear it. What do you find interesting about Shostakovich? He outlived Joseph Stalin by a few decades, unlike poor Prokofiev who only lived one day after Stalin died.
    Nice! Good to see another teenager on here- I'm 17.

    As for etiquette, dress nicely and only clap at the end of the symphony, not between movements. Other than that, enjoy the show!
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

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    Senior Member Rachovsky's Avatar
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    I downloaded his Festive Overture, Op. 96 today and its a nice change from his usual revolutionary themed music.
    I also listened to Movement 2 of Symphony No. 10 and it is so unique and exhilarating. Haven't listened to any other movements of it. No money right now to buy on iTunes, none on Youtube, and Limewire doesn't have any, lol.

    I'll go through some more later.

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    Senior Member Cyclops's Avatar
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    There something about his Symphonies I really like!Can't put my finger on it! I'm currently listening to his Symphony #10,(Eugene Ormandy's,Philadelphia Orchestra. )
    Stirring stuff!
    And all those moments are soon lost,like tears in the rain•••

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    I think his symphonies have a unique raw Russian quality about them. The harmonies he uses are different from anyone elses and his music stronly suggests he's trying to tell us something about the political climate he lived through.

    That's why I like his music!
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Senior Member Cyclops's Avatar
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    Now I hate politics,nothing could bore me more yet I love his music! Well actually I love russian composers,the grand russian sound they give,the power. I think Prokofiev is very similar but I'm not familiar with his symphonies yet.
    And all those moments are soon lost,like tears in the rain•••

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    think his symphonies have a unique raw Russian quality about them. The harmonies he uses are different from anyone elses and his music stronly suggests he's trying to tell us something about the political climate he lived through.

    That's why I like his music!
    There is absolutely no evidence of that. His son (who was trying to make money out of his fathers music) told us certain things so that Dmitri's music would appease to anti-communist US (etc.). Some guy who possibly never met him is the holy grail of evidence that you use to prove that Dmitri hated Stalin. On the same line, how stupid would Dmitri have to be to tell someone he's rarely or only once met all his anti regime secrets? And what a waste of money and effort by Stalin to actually round up composers... no government would do that. The hole issue is US propaganda influenced. Every aspect of his music considered anti-Stalin could be taken either way.

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    Member Drowning_by_numbers's Avatar
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    Maybe you should re-read what he said..
    he's trying to tell us something about the political climate he lived through.
    Where is the mention of the fact he hated Stalin.. ok so I believe he did, and certain things in his music I would use as evidence.. but that is my opinion. And he has never claimed these things you accuse him of.

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    In my estimation, Shostakovich was the last great composer (he died after Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Ralph Vaughan Williams). Personally, some of Shostakovich’s music appeals quite a lot but some doesn’t.

    It is certainly true that his music was always under suspicion by the Soviet authorities, and it was criticised heavily at one stage in the pre-War era. Whether or not he later adjusted it in order to gain favour with the Soviet Authorities is not clear. At any rate, I’ve always found it odd that anyone should profess to like Shostakovich’s music all the more because of the way it is alleged to poke fun at the Soviet regime, or by virtue of any adjustment he had to make in order to gain political acceptance. I just listen to the music and couldn’t care less what may have motivated it in terms of the political background.

    For a summary of Shostakovich’s life and music (and more information on the political aspects), this is useful:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A12736785

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    Where is the mention of the fact he hated Stalin.. ok so I believe he did, and certain things in his music I would use as evidence.. but that is my opinion. And he has never claimed these things you accuse him of.
    Yeh... okay.... and what is this political climate? Oh yes, what I was talking about.

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    Everybody hated Stalin. Including Stalin himself.

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