On This Day (September 25)…Happy Birthday, Dmitri Shostakovich!

The composer Dmitri Shostakovich was born on this day in 1906 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Shostakovich in 1950. Retrieved from here.

This noted Soviet-era composer, progeny of a musical family, showed promise at a young age. He was admitted to the Conservatory in Petrograd (later Leningrad; both alternate names for St. Petersburg) in 1919, when he was just thirteen years old. His first symphony appeared in 1926; it was written when he was only 19 years old as a graduation exercise from Maximilian Steinberg’s composition class, which he took at the Leningrad Conservatory.

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Shostakovich in 1925, around the time he wrote his first symphony. Retrieved from here.

From this point on, Shostakovich continued to have a prolific career, writing many symphonies, operas, ballets, string quartets, and other musical forms. Despite getting into occasional trouble with the communist party, he was able to continue his composition career until his death in 1975.

Ballet suite from 1950, featuring works from multiple ballets.

Shostakovich is one of my favorite twentieth century composers, as well as one of my favorite Russian composers overall. His legacy and musical output stand today as, paradoxically, both an example of the effects of an autocratic regime on individual artists and on then resilience of the creative spirit. Today is a day to celebrate a man who still made music in highly adverse circumstances.

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  • Note: this was originally published on my personal music blog. It appears here heavily modified from the original version.
  • Edit on 2020-05-15: Small amount of information added. Formatting fixed
  • Edit on 2020-08-28: Optimized for new site. Information added.

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