This video clip was taken from a Russian film, and appears to be one of the most unforgettable compositions and also one of the addictive musically romantic works that has been composed by this film work.
Composer Dimitri Shostakovich.
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich (Russian: Дми́трий Дми́триевич Шостако́вич (help·info), tr. Dmitriy Dmitrievich Shostakovich, pronounced [ˈdmʲitrʲɪj ˈdmʲitrʲɪjɪvʲɪtɕ ʂəstɐˈkovʲɪtɕ]; 25 September [O.S. 12 September] 1906 – 9 August 1975) was a Russian composer and pianist. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century.
Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Soviet chief of staff Mikhail Tukhachevsky, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the government. Nevertheless, he received accolades and state awards and served in the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1947–1962) and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (from 1962 until his death).
A polystylist, Shostakovich developed a hybrid voice, combining a variety of different musical techniques into his works. His music is characterized by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, and ambivalent tonality; the composer was also heavily influenced by the neo-classical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky, and (especially in his symphonies) by the late Romanticism associated with Gustav Mahler.
Shostakovich’s orchestral works include 15 symphonies and six concerti. His chamber output includes 15 string quartets, a piano quintet, two piano trios, and two pieces for string octet. His solo piano works include two sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include three operas, several song cycles, ballets, and a substantial quantity of film music; especially well known is The Second Waltz, Op. 99, music to the film The First Echelon(1955–1956), as well as the suites of music composed for The Gadfly.
In his early life Shostakovich suffered for his perceived lack of political zeal, and initially failed his exam in Marxist methodology in 1926. His first major musical achievement was the First Symphony (premiered 1926), written as his graduation piece at the age of nineteen. It was this work which brought him to the attention of Mikhail Tukhachevsky, who helped Shostakovich to find accommodation and work in Moscow, and sent a driver around in “a very stylish automobile” to take him to a concert.
After graduation, Shostakovich initially embarked on a dual career as concert pianist and composer, but his dry style of playing was often unappreciated (his American biographer, Laurel Fay, comments on his “emotional restraint” and “riveting rhythmic drive”). He nevertheless won an “honorable mention” at the First International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1927. He attributed the disappointment at the competition to suffering from appendicitis and the jury being all-Polish. He later had his appendix removed in April 1927. After the competition Shostakovich met the conductor Bruno Walter, who was so impressed by the composer’s First Symphony that he conducted it at its Berlin premiere later that year. Leopold Stokowski was equally impressed and gave the work its U.S. premiere the following year in Philadelphia and also made the work’s first recording.
Thereafter, Shostakovich concentrated on composition and soon limited his performances primarily to those of his own works. In 1927 he wrote his Second Symphony (subtitled To October), a patriotic piece with a great pro-Soviet choral finale. Owing to its experimental nature, as with the subsequent Third Symphony, the pieces were not critically acclaimed with the enthusiasm granted to the First.
The year 1927 also marked the beginning of Shostakovich’s relationship with Ivan Sollertinsky, who remained his closest friend until the latter’s death in 1944. Sollertinsky introduced the composer to the music of Gustav Mahler, which had a strong influence on his music from the Fourth Symphony onwards.
While writing the Second Symphony, Shostakovich also began work on his satirical opera The Nose, based on the story by Nikolai Gogol. In June 1929, against the composer’s own wishes, the opera was given a concert performance; it was ferociously attacked by the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians (RAPM). Its stage premiere on 18 January 1930 opened to generally poor reviews and widespread incomprehension amongst musicians.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Shostakovich worked at TRAM, a proletarian youth theatre. Although he did little work in this post, it shielded him from ideological attack. Much of this period was spent writing his opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, which was first performed in 1934. It was immediately successful, on both popular and official levels. It was described as “the result of the general success of Socialist construction, of the correct policy of the Party”, and as an opera that “could have been written only by a Soviet composer brought up in the best tradition of Soviet culture”
Shostakovich married his first wife, Nina Varzar, in 1932. Initial difficulties led to a divorce in 1935, but the couple soon remarried when Nina became pregnant with their first child
In 1948, Shostakovich, along with many other composers, was again denounced for formalism in the Zhdanov decree. Andrei Zhdanov, Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, accused Shostakovich and other composers (such as Sergei Prokofiev and Aram Khachaturian) of writing inappropriate and formalist music. This was part of an ongoing anti-formalism campaign intended to root out all Western compositional influence as well as any perceived “non-Russian” output. The conference resulted in the publication of the Central Committee’s Decree “On V. Muradeli’s opera The Great Friendship,” which was targeted towards all Soviet composers and demanded that they write only “proletarian” music, or music for the masses. The accused composers, including Shostakovich, were summoned to make public apologies in front of the committee. Most of Shostakovich’s works were banned, and his family had privileges withdrawn. Yuri Lyubimov says that at this time “he waited for his arrest at night out on the landing by the lift, so that at least his family wouldn’t be disturbed.”
The consequences of the decree for composers were harsh. Shostakovich was among those who were dismissed from the Conservatory altogether. For Shostakovich, the loss of money was perhaps the largest blow. Others still in the Conservatory experienced an atmosphere that was thick with suspicion. No one wanted his work to be understood as formalist, so many resorted to accusing their colleagues of writing or performing anti-proletarian music.
In the next few years, Shostakovich composed three categories of work: film music to pay the rent, official works aimed at securing official rehabilitation, and serious works “for the desk drawer”. The latter included the Violin Concerto No. 1 and the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry. The cycle was written at a time when the postwar anti-Semitic campaign was already under way, with widespread arrests, including that of I. Dobrushin and Yiditsky, the compilers of the book from which Shostakovich took his texts.
The restrictions on Shostakovich’s music and living arrangements were eased in 1949, when Stalin decided that the Soviets needed to send artistic representatives to the Cultural and Scientific Congress for World Peace in New York City
Shostakovich’s musical influence on later composers outside the former Soviet Union has been relatively slight, although Alfred Schnittke took up his eclecticism and his contrasts between the dynamic and the static, and some of André Previn‘s music shows clear links to Shostakovich’s style of orchestration. His influence can also be seen in some Nordic composers, such as Lars-Erik Larsson. Many of his Russian contemporaries, and his pupils at the Leningrad Conservatory were strongly influenced by his style (including German Okunev, Boris Tishchenko, whose 5th Symphony of 1978 is dedicated to Shostakovich’s memory, Sergei Slonimsky, and others). Shostakovich’s conservative idiom has grown increasingly popular with audiences both within and beyond Russia, as the avant-garde has declined in influence and debate about his political views has developed.His last work was his Viola Sonata, which was first performed on 28 December 1975, four months after his death.25 September [O.S. 12 September] 1906 – 9 August 1975) was a Russian composer and pianist. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. (credits to Wiki )
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