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Dmitri Shostakovich

BIOGRAPHY

Dmitri Shostakovich (25 September 1906 - 9 August 1975) was a pianist and Russian composer. He is historically significant because his works were written under the pressures of the U.S.S.R. If his music did not meet government standards, he could disappear or be executed.

Shostakovich is best known for his symphonies, concerti, string music, and film music. He was a polystylist, which means he used combined different techniques in his music. Listeners can hear sharp contrasts, some atonality, and tone rows, or the non-repetitive ordering of pitches. His music shows elements of composers that influenced him: Stravinsky, Mahler, Bach, Beethoven, and Berg.

One of Shostakovich’s most important works is Symphony No. 5, which was written to commemorate the October Revolution. However, it secretly expressed the suffering of people under Stalin’s rule. At the premiere, there was a 40 minute ovation and the audience was in tears. They understood that the symphony was a form of protest.

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