Dmitri Shostakovich and the Soviet State Essay

Dmitri Shostakovich and the Soviet State Essay

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Dmitri Shostakovich was one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century. He achieved fame, but with much hardship along the way. He was censored and threatened with not only his life but that of his wife and children by playing the role of a public figure in Soviet Russia. The question is was he a committed communist or a victim? The events in his life, good or bad, shaped the music that he created and led to one of the greatest symphonies of the 20th century, his Fifth Symphony.
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia on September 25, 1906, Shostakovich was the second of three children born to Dmitri Boleslavovich Shostakovich and Sofiya Vasilievna Kokoulina. His father was of Polish descent but both his parents were Siberian natives. Dmitri was a child prodigy as a pianist and composer. He began taking piano lessons from his mother at the age of nine. He displayed an incredible talent to remember what his mother had played at the previous lesson and would get caught pretending to read the music, playing the music from his last lesson instead of what was placed in front of him.
In 1919, at the age of thirteen, he was allowed to enter the Petrograd Conservatory in Saint Petersburg and studied piano with Leonid Nikolayev. Because the conservatory was poorly funded, it did not have heat; the students had to wear coats, hats and gloves constantly only taking off their gloves when composing. Because of these poor living conditions Dmitri developed tuberculosis of the lymph glands in spring 1923 and had to have an operation. Nevertheless, he completed his final piano examinations at the conservatory in June with his neck still bandaged. Shostakovich, though very intelligent and talented, was seen as immature in his fin...


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Works Cited

• Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. A history of western music. 8th ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010. Print.
• Fanning, David. Shostakovich studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.
• Hurwitz, David, and Dmitriĭ Dmitrievich Shostakovich. Shostakovich symphonies and concertos: an owner's manual. Pompton Plains, N.J.: Amadeus ;, 2006. Print.
• Norris, Christopher. Shostakovich, the man and his music. Boston: M. Boyars, 1982. Print.
• Volkov, Solomon, and Antonina W. Bouis. Shostakovich and Stalin: the extraordinary relationship between the great composer and the brutal dictator. New York: Knopf, 2004. Print.
• David Fanning and Laurel Fay. "Shostakovich, Dmitry." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 14 Apr. 2012 .

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