Monday, August 9, 2010

Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 10

Leonard Bernstein / Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This is my favorite Shostakovich score, ever, (especially the second movement). Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this fantastic symphony at the age of 19. He was going to graduate from the esteemed Leningrad Conservatory, leaving behind his long years of studying under the amazing Glazunov (and others), and composed this, his First Symphony, as a graduation piece. Indeed, it is a very youthful and vibrant piece that shows all the compositional spark of a rising genius - the true Modern Russian composer hero. But now that I think about it, it seems like this spark was quenched by the Soviet government and never again did Shostakovich create a piece so whimsical and truly of himself. Always the yurodivy, or "holy fool," Shostakovich must have realized that it was in his best interest to bow down to Stalin and compose pieces that were socially acceptable. This is why I love the First Symphony so much. It is what Shostakovich could have been if Stalin had not been in power... it is the true genius of the composer that struggled to find his way out for the rest of his life...

Don't get me wrong, I think everything Shostakovich ever wrote is, in it's own way, a masterpiece. I just percieve this "graduation piece" as one of his finest works, in terms of the man behind the music. He looked a lot like Harry Potter back then, didn't he?



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