Shostakovich, Dmitry (Dmitriyevich)
- Laurel Fay
- and David Fanning
(b St Petersburg, 12/Sept 25, 1906; d Moscow, Aug 9, 1975). Russian composer. He is generally regarded as the greatest symphonist of the mid-20th century, and many of his string quartets, concertos, instrumental and vocal works are also firmly established in the repertory. His numerous film scores, extensive incidental theatre music and three ballets are of more variable quality. In 1936, political intervention cut short his potentially outstanding operatic output; such interference continued to blight his career, belying the outward signs of official favour and recognition that increasingly came his way. Amid the conflicting pressures of official requirements, the mass suffering of his fellow countrymen, and his personal ideals of humanitarianism and public service, he succeeded in forging a musical language of colossal emotional power. The music of his middle period is often epic in scale and content; it has been understood by many Russians, and in more recent years also by Westerners, as chronicling his society and times, conveying moods and, as some would argue, experiences and even political messages in notes, at a time when to do so in words was proscribed. Since the appearance in ...