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Dmitri Shostakovich

Biography

Dmitri Shostakovich was easily one of the greatest symphonists of the twentieth century, and along with Prokofiev, one of the foremost composers to emerge and exist under a Stalin-led Soviet Union. His Seventh Symphony (often referred to as the Leningrad Symphony because of the common belief that it was written in dedication to soldiers who fell during the Battle of Leningrad) is a monumental work, lengthy and evocative of images both heroic and tyrannical. Its third and fourth movements, for example, contain sections that speak softly and unsentimentally of tragedy, only to be contrasted against harsh, recurring battle music. Shostakovich did not apply the techniques prevalent in Europe at the time -- revolutionary modernists Bartok, Stravinsky and Schoenberg were simply not played or studied at all during this era in the U.S.S.R. -- but there is nothing stale or dated in Shostakovich's work. It's unfortunate Shostakovich lived in fear of his government, for there is no telling where his limitless genius could have led.
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