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I have been listening to alot of Shostakovich, I must say his music opened a new way of listening/looking at music for me, but most important of all, it sounds so cool, he actually made his initial into his music, that's cool, except I can't do that with my name...

My favorite Shotakovich symphony has to be the fifth, and the seventh
what do you think, I also liked his second and third quartets
 

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I really love Shostakovich's music! It can be hard and complex to play though. He has so many ways of evoking images in a persons mind and you can really hear his struggle against all the things that were built up against him in the time he was writing. I remember my first real exsposure to Shostakovich almost gave me nightmares because I could hear and see in my head the nazi's banging on people doors and dragging them away.

There are many great symphonic composers after Shostakovich, they are just different (Alan Hovahness anyone?!) and Shostakovich is one of those composers who borderlined the untroven paths in music at his time without fully going there and the composers who did and classical music in the 20th century and today has changed a lot in such a short time.
 

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The Fourteenth is my favorite, although it's only a symphony because Shostakovich called it one. I also love the Fourth, the Fifth (the opening movement is sheer perfection: not one note out of place), the Eighth, the Tenth, the Eleventh (the most underrated: I keep waiting for it to catch on), the Thirteenth, and the Fifteenth. The weakest by far is #12.
 

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I like the last two movements of his 5th Symphony. Have you noticed that the main theme of the 4th movement is the same as the main theme in the film Troy? Anyway, I love Shozzy's work - it reminds me of dark chocolate!
 

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Shostakovich

Shostakovich's best symphonies are world class. Some are not so hot!
Required
Sym. 10 Karayan
Sym. 5 Bernstein
Sym. 8 Haitink or Mravinsky
Sym. 1 Bernstein or Haitink
Sym. 6
Sym. 9 Bernstein

Sym. 2 and 3 sound like experiments, 4 is a huge mess, 7 is a War soundtrack and a bit hokey. Sym. 11 is a dismal Russian Bore! Sym 12 again. 13 is GREAT if you like dark Russian lieder!, 14 is tough to find anything to like and Sym. 15 is just plain weird.
I know this doesn't do his effort justice, just my opinion in a nut shell

TEN is Awesome!
 

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This might be off subject, but I never heard of any works from Shostakovich. anybody can suggest pieces thats good(not painful or frightening) to a beginner listener? Thanks!
 
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Yes, you will surely love the 15th Symphony of Shostakovitch. It's simply extraordinary.

Some years ago I heard it live in London in a concert given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The hall was packed. It's such a curious, riveting work. The final movement is just astonishing. Almost mystical in its use of long sustained strings and the extraordinary use of percussion. What an amazing end to Shostakovitch's symphonic career. One of the great works of the 20th century without doubt. Where does the symphony go from here ???

Regards
 

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I also love Shozzy 15, because it ends quietly - this can be the most emotionally powerful ending to a symphony and was exerscised in Bhrams' 3rd. Unfortunatly it is for this reason that these uber symphonies are not performed as regulaly as they deserve. I do hope that symphonies to come are not that atonal, but do include dissonance and also reflect the times it's written in.
 

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I enjoy listening to Shostakovich's lighter works such as his Ballet and Jazz Suites, the waltzes are simply gorgeous.
 

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Can anybody can suggest pieces thats good to a beginner listener?
The 5th Symphony is probably the best exposition of Shostakovich's style, without getting too bombastic, well for Shostakovich anyway.

I must disagree, however, about Shostakovich being a "great symphonist". His output is extremely uneven, not only from piece to piece but within each piece as well.

He is a composer with tremendous skill and facility, in any medium, largely owing to the drill that he subjected himself to. He wrote all the time, and when he had no ideas of his own, he arranged other people's compositions for various ensembles, to keep the "composing machine" well oiled. Unfortunately, I often get the feeling that that is precisely what one is listening to: a well-oiled composing machine. After a certain amount of hearings, the gloss of his music often wears off and you are left with the feeling of a composer going through the motions: theme - routine - transition - routine - climax - end.

But Shostakovich is not to blame for this, as he more than any other composer in history could not simply write what he wanted to write, and one cannot "just listen" to his music without understanding the context within which each individual piece was written.

We are left to wonder what his undeniable genius would have produced if he had been allowed to follow his own path.
 

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I have just joined this forum, so hi everyone!

I LOVE shosty, he's one of the best composers ever IMO. I play the 2nd violin in a local amateur orchestra (http://www.concertorchestra.com) and our conductor is a huge fan as well. So far we've done Symohony No. 5 (mesmerising) 10 (very good, but not the best), and in March we will be doing the 7th (exhausting!) I don't know WHY I like this guy so much, but the 5th always gets to me, from the quiet and menacing de dah de dur beginning to the insanely cheerful and over optimistic ending. I love playing his stuff and I love listening to it.
 
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I hope you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic.

Because is you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic, you have missed the point entirely.

What Shostakovich meant by this ending is well documented in his own words:

It is as if someone is grabbing you by the throat and shouting at you:
"Rejoice! Rejoice!"
Terrified, you reply:
"I'm rejoicing, I'm rejoicing!"


The ending of the 5th was another in a long series of irony-filled concessions that Shostakovich had to make in his life. Unfortunately, not many conductors know Shostakovich's account of this ending, and misinterpret it entirely, mainly by playing it twice as fast as it is written. At the original tempo, it truly conjurs up the image of a man reading aloud the confession that the communist regime handed him.
 

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My favourette is NOT the 7th please!

I've not yet heard all but the 5th 8th and 10th are the best. The first movement when the string part comes in is mindeboggling. And 8th has it's complexity and simplity, very expressionism symphony.
 

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I hope you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic.

Because is you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic, you have missed the point entirely.

What Shostakovich meant by this ending is well documented in his own words:

It is as if someone is grabbing you by the throat and shouting at you:
"Rejoice! Rejoice!"
Terrified, you reply:
"I'm rejoicing, I'm rejoicing!"


The ending of the 5th was another in a long series of irony-filled concessions that Shostakovich had to make in his life. Unfortunately, not many conductors know Shostakovich's account of this ending, and misinterpret it entirely, mainly by playing it twice as fast as it is written. At the original tempo, it truly conjurs up the image of a man reading aloud the confession that the communist regime handed him.
...

First chance I get I'm buying his 5th. That sounds amazing.
 

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Here is a very interesting (imo) video about Shostakovich`s Fifth Symphony, including interviews with friends and family-


It`s odd; when I first heard this piece, I was completely unaware of the context/history behind the work. I was no longer at uni; for some reason this was a work that didn`t come up in my studies. Anyway, I only later heard the work; loved it, listened to it many times. The tension, the drama- OMG! Now having the story behind the piece, I think, no wonder this work is, well, what it is. But I didn`t need to have the background behind the piece; everything is right there in the music...
 

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I just had to share this- it`s the 4th mvt. of his 5th. Conducted by Mravinsky, played by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra (I think.) Of course one should listen to the whole thing, but here it is anyway-


This piece is so intense, it`s riveting. It`s almost unbearable. It moved me (not for the first time) to tears.

There are a few minor problems in this recording; the orchestra is not quite tight enough in places, the intonation is not absolutely perfect, and there are a couple of cracked notes, but who cares? The tempi and dynamics were very good, imo. Although I haven`t listened to this piece in a while, there may exist much better performances of it. I can only take listening to the piece on occasion; it takes too much out of me. I don`t think it`s good for my mental health! :p
 

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I stand corrected by the quote in the video...
(For those of you who missed my first post, this is Shostakovich's explanation of the end of the 4th movement.)

It is as if someone is beating you with a stick and saying, "Your business is rejoicing!"

You rise, shaking, and march away muttering "Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing."


I find the repetition of the forced phrase very poignant and representative of the Soviet dogma present at the time, and you can here this mindlessly obediant repetition in the music as well. The great joke on the regime. They fealt Shostakovich had finally come around with this piece, while all along he was thumbing his nose at them.
 

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Erm...Interesting that Shostakovich Symphony No 5 did not make the top 20 in the recent poll on the "greatest symphonies" thread here recently. Admittedly, it was only a small sample of posters but it was well down the list at rank 24. In fact, only one person mentioned it about half way down their list of preferences.

Re the video referred to above about the history of this symphony, it does not explain much about the history of persecution that Shostakovich suffered at the hands of the Soviet regime, and the totally ignorant, piercing, and devastating articles that appeared in Pravda about his earlier works. You can find out much more by just typing "Shostakovich, Pravda" into Google or Wikepedia.

For what it may be worth, my version of S5 is Riccardo Muti/Philadelphia, which sounds just as good if not better than the Mravinsky, as shown on the other video referred to above. Not to discredit Shostakovich (whom I acknowledge to be a great composer) in any way, but I still find this particular work largely uninspiring. I'm afraid it does not really interest me what inspired any part of it; it could be louder, slower, a joke, a political snub, or anything. To me, it's another example of his typical over-expressionist thrashing around, with too much use of gongs, drums, cymbals and other noisy orchestral paraphernalia. Not my scene at all. Give me Sibelius or RVW any day. I realise that others may disagree, but not too many, it seems, according to the results I quoted above. If you didn't vote, it's too late now.

Topaz
 
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