Shostakovich, Dmitry (Dmitriyevich)

Shostakovich, Dmitry (Dmitriyevich)

biographical name


Dmitry Shostakovich, early 1940s.—Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

(born Sept. 25, 1906, St. Petersburg, Russia—died Aug. 9, 1975, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R.) Russian composer. Shaped by his intellectual parents and the political turmoil of his youth, he was admitted to the St. Petersburg Conservatory at age 13. His Symphony No. 1 (1924–25) attracted international attention for its convincing command of a large scale and its expressive palette ranging from unaffected lyricism to bitter satire to grand heroics. He experimented with avant-garde trends in his next symphonies and theatre works, such as the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1932; revised as Katerina Izmaylova). The denunciation of Lady Macbeth by the Soviet authorities in 1936 led to his adopting a very different style that was serious and elegiac, with a directness that appealed to the public. His wartime Symphony No. 7 (1941), thought to portray the German invasion, became a symbol of patriotism. After his music was denounced by the government in 1948, he was again devastated and began putting his most personal feelings into chamber works, particularly the remarkable 15 string quartets. With the Cold War “thaw” of the late 1950s, he composed two outspokenly personal late symphonies, including the 13th (1962). He is remembered as the greatest Russian composer to follow Igor Stravinsky.

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