Muddle Instead of Music

On 28th of January 1936 Pravda published a ‘review’ of Shostakovich’s opera The Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. The opera had been completed two years earlier and had received a number of successful, critically acclaimed, productions. Two days prior to the publication of the infamous Pravda attack, Stalin had attended a performance of the work at the Bolshoi; he walked out after the third of the four acts. The twenty-nine year old Shostakovich’s previously glittering musical career was in ruins!

Pravda, 28th January, 1936: Muddle Instead of Music (click the article for English translation)

Shostakovich was fond (maybe not the right word, ‘fond’ has little to do with the mind-set induced by living in a police state) of using encryptions in his work. The most famous of these is that of his own name which he reduced to the four musical letters found in its German spelling: D, E-flat (Es in German, hence S), C and B-natural (H in German)

5th Symphony
Leonard Bernstein;New York Philharmonic – Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47: I. Moderato
[Spotify search terms: shostakovich symphony 5 & 9 bernstein]

No scores, I’m afraid; they’re not yet in the public domain in the EU.

Course materials:
Shostakovich short biography

Soviet propaganda poster.
Study the Great Path of the Party of Lenin and Stalin!

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