Dmitri Shostakovich

Biography

Born: Sep 25, 1906; Russia   Died: Aug 9, 1975; Russia   Period: 20th Century
Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian composer whose symphonies and quartets, numbering 15 each, are among the greatest examples of these classic forms from the twentieth century. His style evolved from the brash humor and experimental character of his first period, exemplified by the operas The Nose and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, into both the more introverted melancholy and nationalistic fervor of his second phase (the Symphonies No. 5 and No. 7, Read more "Leningrad"), and finally into the defiant and bleak mood of his last period (exemplified by the Symphony No. 14 and Quartet No. 15). Early in his career his music showed the influence of Prokofiev and Stravinsky, especially in his prodigious and highly successful First Symphony. He could effectively communicate a melancholic depth and profound sense of anguish, as one hears in many of his symphonies, concertos, and quartets. Solomon Volkov, in his controversial Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich explains the composer's seeming bombast as deft satire of the pomposity of the Soviet state, pointing to the "forced rejoicing" of Fifth Symphony's ending. Typical traits of Shostakovich's style include short reiterated melodic or rhythmic figures, motifs of one or two pitches or intervals, and lugubrious and manic string writing.

Shostakovich was born in St. Petersburg, in 1906, and educated at the Petrograd Conservatory. The acid style of his early Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk irritated Stalin, and Shostakovich was attacked in the Soviet press. Fearing imprisonment, he withdrew his already rehearsed Fourth Symphony; his Fifth Symphony (1937) carried the subtitle "A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism." It is more ingenious than most critics have fathomed, for it managed to satisfy both the backward tastes of the party censors and those of more demanding aesthetes in the West.

The 1941 German invasion of Russia inspired the composer's Seventh Symphony, subtitled "Leningrad." Impressed by the symphony's epic-heroic character, Toscanini, Koussevitsky, and Stokowski vied for the Western Hemisphere premiere; the score had to be microfilmed, flown to Teheran, driven to Cairo, and flown out. The work became an enormous success the world over, but eventually fell into obscurity. Still, the composer had for a time become a worldwide celebrity, his picture even appearing on the cover of Time.

Shostakovich ran afoul of the government again in 1948, when an infamous decree was issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party accusing Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and other prominent composers of "formalist perversions." For some time he wrote mostly works glorifying Soviet life or history. Artistic repression diminished in post-Stalinist Russia, but curiously Shostakovich still drew in his modernist horns until the Thirteenth Symphony, "Babi Yar," a 1962 work based on poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. The work provoked major controversy because of its first movement's subject: Russian oppression of the Jews.

In 1966 Shostakovich wrote his Second Cello Concerto, a work on an even higher level than his solid First, but one which has yet to capture as much attention from either artists or the public. That year, Shostakovich was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. He continued to compose, his works growing more sparsely scored and darker, the subject of death becoming prominent. His Fourteenth Symphony (1969), really a collection of songs on texts by Lorca, Apollinaire, Küchelbecker, and Rilke, is a death-obsessed work of considerable dissonance and showing little regard for the Socialist Realism still demanded by the state. Shostakovich died on August 9, 1975. Read less

Shostakovich Edition
Release Date: 11/13/2012   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 9245   Number of Discs: 51
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Shostakovich: Symphonies 4, 5 & 6 / Gergiev, Mariinsky Orchestra
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Mariinsky  
Catalog: 545   Number of Discs: 2
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Shostakovich: Symphony No 14 / Petrenko
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573132   Number of Discs: 1
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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 / Boreyko, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 08/12/2014   Label: Hänssler Classic  
Catalog: 93326   Number of Discs: 1
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Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 15 / Wigglesworth, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1643   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 54

Browse 1-25 of 43 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies 4, 5 & 6 / Gergiev, Mariinsky Orchestra
    Label: Mariinsky   Catalog: 545 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Symphonie Nr. 6: Tschaikowsky, Shostakowitsch
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900123 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Shostakovich: Complete Symphonies [12-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002020902 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Anatoli Kotscherga,  Sergei Leiferkus,  Ljuba Kazarnovskaya
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Neeme Järvi,  Myung-Whun Chung,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Gothenburg Symphony Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $155.98
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  • 4.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies 1 & 6 / Boreyko, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93303 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Andrey Boreyko
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Wiener Philharmoniker Symphony Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001797302 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Hanna Schwarz,  René Kollo,  Kurt Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Karl Böhm,  Leonard Bernstein,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Monteverdi Choir  ... 
    CD: $163.49
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  • 6.
    Shostakovich Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9245 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Benjamin Fleischmann
    Performer:  Sergei Aleksashkin,  Vladimir Vaneev,  Alla Simoni,  Cristina Ortiz  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai,  Paavo Berglund,  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wdr Sinfonieorchester,  Wdr Sinfonieorchester Rundfunkchor,  Wdr Sinfonieorchester Choral Academy Moscow  ... 
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  • 7.
    Leopold Stokowski - The Stereo Collection 1954-1975
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 1916852 Release Date: 08/21/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Anna Moffo,  Martina Arroyo  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra,  Norman Luboff Choir  ... 
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  • 8.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies No 6 & 12 / Petrenko, Royal Liverpool PO
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572658 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Vasily Petrenko
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 774 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
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  • 10.
    Rostropovich Conducts Shostakovich - Complete Symphonies
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 64177 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Nicolai Ghiuselev,  Mark Reshetin,  Galina Vishnevskaya
    Conductor:  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony, Washington, D. C.,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Academic Symphony Orchestra Of The Moscow State Philharmonic
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  • 11.
    Stokowski Conducts Shostakovich - Recordings 1930-42
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1232 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  NBC Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 12.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies 6 & 11 / Haitink, Concertgebouw
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 411939 Release Date: 03/17/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 13.
    The Kondrashin Recordings - Shostakovich, Nielsen
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438283 Release Date: 02/18/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Nielsen,  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies No 1 & 6 / Skrowaczewski, Halle
    Label: Hallé   Catalog: 7506 Release Date: 01/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies No 1 & 6 / Ashkenazy, Royal Phil
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425609 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies No 12 & 6;  Strauss Jr. / Rozhdestvensky, Bbc So, Et Al
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 4242 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Shostakovich: Symphony No. 6 Op. 54
    Label: Everest   Catalog: 7519015 Release Date: 05/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
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  • 18.
    Fritz Reiner Conducts Prokofiev, Debussy, Shostakovich
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2333 Release Date: 05/06/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Claude Debussy,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Lauritz Melchior
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  NBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Symphonies Nos.
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1075 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 20.
    Shostakovich: Complete Symphonies Vol 7 / Kofman, Et Al
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold   Catalog: 9371207 Release Date: 09/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Roman Kofman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beethoven Orchestra Bonn
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  • 21.
    Shostakovich: The Symphonies / Ashkenazy
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000897202 Release Date: 07/10/2007   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Spoken Word
    Performer:  Sergej Kopcak,  Joan Rodgers,  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo,  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies / Sanderling, Berlin So
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 9217 Release Date: 03/13/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Günter Sennewald,  Gerhard Haas,  Karl-Heinz Deutscher
    Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Shostakovich - The Complete Symphonies / Caetani, Et Al
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47850/88 Release Date: 12/26/2006   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Pavel Kudinov,  Michael Davidov,  Marina Poplavskaya,  Luca Santaniello  ... 
    Conductor:  Oleg Caetani
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  Verdi Chorus Milan
    On sale! $141.98
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  • 24.
    Shostakovich: Symphonies (Complete) / Shostakovich, Et Al
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 3890 Release Date: 10/31/2006   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Mikhail Ryssov,  Peter Mikulas,  Marina Shaguch
    Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus,  Kühn Male Chorus  ... 
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  • 25.
    Shostakovich: Complete Symphonies / Mariss Jansons, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 65300 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Larissa Gogolevskaja,  Sergei Alexashkin
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Male Choir  ... 
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