After this climax, there’s a return to the chamber-like atmosphere, closing with our violin solo, and I really think if we just finished here and chucked the finale in the bin, we’d have an almost interesting piece of music. 2 in B, op. This symphony, when I first heard it, perplexed me, to say the least. As we will see, the lack of inspiration thankfully didn’t last, but this is also a reflection of the social, political and artistic climate of the time. Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony, like his Fifteenth String Quartet, was his last, and both works seem to illuminate the composer’s state of mind in his last years. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t strike me as a particularly compelling elevator pitch. Voting game from the old Amazon forum: Shostakovich symphonies: 1 - Symphony #10 in E minor, Op. But this relatively comfortable middle-class childhood would not last long. What is remarkable about the first three symphonies is not only that they were written before the composer’s 23rd birthday, but that they encapsulate all the musical ideas that were to remain present throughout the composer’s life.   There’s a brassy moment of triumph in this movement, one that would put a pretty nice cap on this work if it were just an overture-like tone poem along the lines of Stravinsky’s Feu d’artifice, but the thing has to continue, doesn’t it? Symphony No. It is hard to know if the Second and Third Symphonies reflect a pride in the Revolution that was only later to turn to disillusionment, or if they are the views of an already disenchanted and politically cynical individual. 14 no. But we have to end on a choral finale which “sets a text by Alexander Bezymensky praising Lenin and the revolution.” You can read the text of the finale here. The worst thing about it is the actual close. We’ll be seeing more Russian stuff from this period and onward in the coming weeks, so do stay tuned for that, and thanks so much for reading. 2; Prokofiev: Cantata - Mark Elder, BBC Symphony Orchestra on AllMusic - 1996 20 ‘The First of May’ As an added bonus, Maestro Litton is the piano soloist for the Piano Concerto No. The première, on 12th May 1926, was an enormous success, and it was not long before the work gained worldwide recognition. But perhaps it was not only that work’s orchestration, with its soloistic piano part, that fascinated the student composer. Such a work was entirely appropriate for the occasion for which it was being written. From sheer misery, I’ve started to compose the finale of the symphony. 47 (1937) The composer’s next major work was his Symphony No. 14 ‘To October’ In 1927 Shostakovich was commissioned by the State Publishing House to honour the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 2, the Second, Third, Sixth, and Tenth string quartets, the Violin Concerto No. 12 in D minor, Op. [O]ne is tempted simply to cut it off with a pair of scissors. These early, enigmatic works point to a lifetime of ambiguity and double-speak. According to the poet Mayakovsky, artists should ‘spit out the past like a bone stuck in our throats… Our duty is to blare like brass-throated horns in the fogs of bourgeois vulgarity.’ Is this the explanation behind the extraordinary factory siren that heralds in the arrival of the chorus and their ‘abominable’ words? 2 in B, op. ‘I am in a terrible mood,’ he continued. Written in 1929, in less than a month, the Third Symphony is another single-movement work with choral finale. Later on in his 10th Symphony (the 3rd movement) there is a little tune which is made from the letters of his name and another tune made up from the name of his secret girlfriend. And here he is: we are this week and next discussing the second and third symphonies of Prokofiev and… Shostakovich. 2 in B major, Op. 2 in G Major, Op. Even removing the choral finale, which sounds wholly uninspired, we’re still left with a piece that lacks much motivation. It is unremittingly tragic, and not so much about 1905 or 1956, perhaps, as about the persistently tragic pattern in human events. Stalin had asked for light and boisterous finales. Change ), Shostakovich Symphony no. Program Notes: Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. In the Sixth Symphony, Shostakovich wanted to express an illogical and contradictory world and so chose a form that is both those things. His friend and dedicatee of the First Symphony, Mikhail Kvadri, had recently been arrested and shot for ‘counterrevolutionary activity’; the dedication was officially removed from the score. But if they seem crude or illogical, that reflects the brutality and ideologically confused spirit of the age. Maybe it was this combination of views that allowed him to write music that spoke to so many, and offended so few. Whatever the answers to those questions are, it is hard to misunderstand the composer’s feelings at the end of the piece. It has been likened to the opening chapter of a novel, setting the tone for all that follows. It would also be impossible for Muzsektor to turn it down, and was guaranteed at least some friendly press. So he’s got plenty to enjoy. Here, Shostakovich brings his emotions back under control and turns to mockery. 4 (1935–36) were withdrawn.   That’s okay, though: there’s the first, symphonies 5-8, the less gargantuan ninth, followed then by the incredible tenth and eleventh… and four more. Shostakovich’s last wartime symphony was the Ninth (1945), commissioned by the state to commemorate the USSR’s victory over Germany.   10   Dmitri Shostakovich, Soundtrack: Children of Men. Shostakovich's next misstep came with the Fourth Symphony, which he had been composing in his mind for some time. In 1937 Russia, at the height of Stalin’s purges, the Communist Party strongly denounced Dmitri Shostakovich’s most recent works. Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Symphony No. Mozart’s expressive 29th symphony was penned by the 18-year-old wunderkind after his visit to Vienna. It is daylight, and false. Shostakovich’s second symphony, however, (and third, as we shall see) was not only not a roaring success at its premiere, but has continued to be recognized as some of his weakest work in the form. He was born Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich on September 25, 1906, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Initially described by the composer as a symphonic poem, the piece was eventually entitled ‘Symphonic Dedication – To October’. 7 "Leningrad" Kurt Masur & New York Philharmonic Shostakovich: Piano Concertos No. ( Log Out /  Solomon Volkov, of the second symphony’s finale. After the 1917 Revolution, Shostakovich’s bourgeois family background proved a distinct disadvantage in the new social order that ensued. Wikipedia explains it thusly, citing Ian MacDonald’s The New Shostakovich: Shostakovich composed his Second in a gestural, geometric “music without emotional structure” manner, with the intent of reflecting speech patterns and physical movements in a neo-realistic style. Or learn more… Or learn more… Recordings: Bernard Haitink: Royal … Wiki says: Though Shostakovich had been commissioned by Muzsektor rather than Agitotdel, and was thus expected to produce a composition of abstract music instead of a propaganda piece, writing a short agitprop symphony seemed to solve all of Shostakovich’s problems. Wikipedia tells us that it is “meditative” and that Shostakovich described it as “the “death of a child” (letter to Boleslav Yavorsky) killed on the Nevsky Prospekt.”. Stalin’s grip on power was starting to make itself felt. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. (This was not performed until 1961, during the Kruschev era.) Shostakovich himself called the première his ‘second birth’. The unexpected death of his father in 1922 only made matters worse. 14, ‘To October’ performed by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Neeme Järvi, or as below with the WDR Radio Chorus and WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne under Rudolf Barshai Symphony No. But we’ll excuse Shostakovich this symphonic misstep. Shostakovich was to use this form with great power in a number of other situations, including the Trio No. 2, Op. 5 in A, K. 219, ‘Turkish’. 2.The symphony was premiered that October by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky.This was the last Shostakovich symphony Mravinsky … In time, this much repeated role would become as much a burden to him as it was a saving grace. But unlike its predecessor, this was not a commissioned piece and, as such, it raises interesting questions about the composer’s freely made decision to celebrate the international labour movement’s May Day celebrations. And the Mahlerian string sonorities and Tchaikovsky-like descriptions of fate and death are more old-fashioned influences than contemporary ones. 9 thoughts on “ Seeking Shostakovich: Listening to the Tenth Symphony (Part 2 of 2) ” T. March 31, 2014 at 3:19 AM It is so refreshing and lovely to read about you wanting joy for Shostakovich, because of your experience with his music. Shostakovich Symphony no. 9 in E, op. This was considered Klangflächenmusik (cluster composition) before the term was officially coined. The Fifth Symphony, finished by Shostakovich in 1937, is probably the most frequently performed of his symphonies, and it’s easy to understand why. 2 Seattle Symphony Judith Fong Conductor Emeritus Ludovic Morlot conducts the Seattle Symphony in music by Caroline Shaw, Shostakovich and Beethoven featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein on Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 7:30pm on Seattle Symphony Live . A flute echoes the material, and there’s something of a fanfare, but almost not even any music here… As is stated on Wiki: Meant to portray the primordial chaos from which order emerged, instrumental voices merge in this 13-voice polyphonic beginning, like impulses released from the void. Symphony No. In fact, I’d already made that note before I’d gone back to read the end of the Wikipedia article, which cites the quote that opens this article. Born in 1906, Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a prodigious child as both pianist and composer. This apparent contradiction was a personality trait that would stay with him his whole life, and the sometimes juddering juxtaposition of the lighted-hearted with the profound marked his compositions from the very beginning. ( Log Out /  How ironic if Stalin’s lifelong attempts to fetter his composer prodigy might actually have been the stimulus behind Shostakovich becoming the exceptional musical voice for the realities of the Soviet Union in the twentieth century. 103 'The year 1905' WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, Semyon Bychkov The performance from the WDR Symphony Orchestra is compelling at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, from the heart-rending funereal … © Mark Wigglesworth 2012. ( Log Out /  Shostakovich had given them their forced happy ending, a secret testament to the horrors of life under Stalin. Only those with the shortest of musical memories can listen to the rousing choral finale with a sense of triumph and joy. After composing the first two movements, Shostakovich wrote to a friend that it would be more fitting to call the work a ‘symphony-grotesque’. Symphony No. 2 in C-sharp minor for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 129. 8 in Cm, op. But ten years on from the Revolution, ‘October’ had come to mean much more than the specific events of 1917. I agree with you utterly about the merits of no.3 (although I hope I’m not pre-empting what you yourself were going to say about it) – if ever there was a case of giving the authorities exactly what they wanted, in the form of a here-today-gone-tomorrow Socialist Realist musical slogan (albeit giving it voluntarily, which is savagely ironic given how they damn near broke him over the course of later life for daring to write anything other)! 5 at our European Tour Preview Concerts with Hilary Hahn on February 23, 24 & 25. 14 and subtitled To October, for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution.It was first performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academy Capella Choir under Nikolai Malko, on 5 November 1927.After the premiere, Shostakovich made some revisions to the score, and this final version was first played in Moscow … The composer’s trade-mark musical gestures are all immediately obvious. Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducts Shostakovich’s Symphony No. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Like Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, another piece he admired, the disconcerting idea of human beings as puppets, with their actions manipulated by unseen string-pullers from on high, was one that stayed with the composer right the way through to his final symphony, written almost fifty years later. Shostakovich had started to experience some of that ‘struggle’ first-hand. It received its premiere on November 5, 1927 with the Leningrad Philharmonic under Nikolai Malko. The second movement then feels very much like a scherzo. Shostakovich Symphony No.5 London Symphony Orchestra & Maxim Shostakovich Shostakovich: Symphony No. The work was composed for the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. Fearing for his life, the young composer wrote a symphony ending with a rousing march. It is challenging, undoubtedly harsh, perhaps even puzzling, but I am among those who has become spellbound by it. Composed at the age of 18, Shostakovich’s First Symphony was written to fulfill the graduation requirements of the Leningrad Conservatory (earning him the equivalent of a college music degree), and would take the international music world by storm the following year. The piece is in one unbroken movement made up of four sections, with the last containing a part for chorus. Wiki mentions “the notion of “industrial” symphonies intended to inspire the proletariat.” Thank goodness that phase is over. Shostakovich was bitterly attacked in the official press, and both the opera and the still unperformed Symphony No. But to many, the triumph rang hollow. It’s turning out pretty gloomy.’ The second half of the piece is certainly much more tragic in vein. Explain that Shostakovich put secret messages and codes into his music as a clever way of avoiding Stalins rules. ( Log Out /  The piece was written as a birthday present for Shostakovich’s nineteen-year-old son Maxim – himself an accomplished pianist. Did the masterpieces that followed need the conflict, tension, and suffering of his time before they could flower from the composer’s pen? It is a radically different work than his first symphony, which is a marvelously successful work that to me gives us far better glimpses into who the composer would later mature into than either of these works we’ll discuss. Beethoven was upheld as the artist most completely in tune with the social aspirations of his time and it was felt by many post-Revolutionary Russians that his death marked the start of the decline of the symphony as an art form altogether – one that could never be resurrected under the rampant capitalism of the west. Or is Shostakovich simply trying to draw a clearly defined line between the music he wanted to write and the music he had to write? However, his Piano Concerto No.2 is a gloriously free, wistful creation – particularly in the famous second movement, which guarantees the whole work’s enduring popularity. Possibly because of this, the authorities insisted on the commission concluding with a text by the Komsomol poet Aleksander Bezymensk, straightforward propaganda describing the hopeless conditions faced by workers before the Revolution and the heroism of Lenin in solving all their problems. Still, for me it stands as a fascinating glimpse of the composer who might have been but for the Lady Macbeth debacle, etc. Starting piano lessons with his mother when he was eight, he was writing a Pushkin-inspired opera by the age of nine. And completing his Symphony No 4 – a big brute of a work – he withdrew the planned Leningrad premiere in '36, after denunciation by the State. Instead, the final lines are chanted rather than sung: This is the slogan and this is the name of living generations: It is perhaps only the thoughts and feelings themselves that are not yet fully focused. Shostakovich wrote that ‘whereas in October, the main content is struggle, May expresses the festive spirit of peaceful development… This does not mean that the music in May is all glorifying and celebratory. 1 and 2 Christopher Lyndon-Gee, Michael Houstoun & New Zealand Symphony … 2, Op. 3 in E flat major, Op. Who knows, if he’d been allowed to carry on composing in the same vein, we might have ended up with something like ’50s/’60s Ligeti – but 30 years sooner! Dmitri Shostakovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, London Symphony Orchestra - Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. Cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, who knew Shostakovich well, took a more universal approach when he said the Eleventh is “a symphony written in blood, a truly tragic work. 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