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Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a 20th century Soviet-era composer. He is considered to be amongst the greatest classical composers of his time. Some of his most famous works include his string quartets, symphonies, and piano works. Despite his success and popularity, Shostakovich did not have an easy livelihood. His tensions with the Soviet government, particularly under Joseph Stalin, plagued him for most of his life. He fought a constant battle of creating music that was true to himself and that which would satisfy the Soviet officials. Shostakovich often had to adjust his composing style in order to maintain good standing. One famous example of this is his Symphony No. 5. At a time when Shostakovich was under serious threat of being arrested or killed, the Fifth Symphony allowed him to regain the respect of Soviet authorities. One might wonder what kind of impact such hardships could have on the creation of this piece. The aim of this research study is to assess the influence of political pressure on Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony while taking into consideration other factors that played a role in his composition. An additional topic that will be addressed is whether or not Shostakovich can be considered a dissident or a supporter of communism. An issue of great controversy, scholars have spent decades trying to interpret the true meaning behind Shostakovich’s works. The Fifth Symphony is brought up often during these debates. This study will take a look at evidence for both viewpoints.
South Dakota State University
Music | Musicology
Dulas, Matthew, "A Masterpiece Amid Musical Suppression: An Analysis of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5" (2023). Honors Capstone Projects. 18.