Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was the leading composer of the Soviet Union. A gifted pianist, he displayed an aptitude for composition from a young age and became one of the foremost symphonists of the 20th century. He also wrote concertos, chamber music, film music, operas and ballets. He was more or less forced into toning down his early complex and brittle idiom in the mid-1930s when his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was denounced as ‘muddle’ by the Communist Party newspaper Pravda. It is believed that Josef Stalin was the author of the attack. With works such The Sun Shines over Our Motherland to his credit, it is unclear whether Shostakovich embraced Soviet ideology or merely paid lip service to it. This debate has helped to make his music endlessly fascinating for many listeners.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra