Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer

Symphony #5

Dates

Born September 25, 1906 in St. Petersburg, Russia 
Died August 9, 1975 in Moscow, U. S. S. R.

Nationality

Russian

Style/Period

Modern 1920-Present

Famous Works

The Nose, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk, The Age of Gold and 15 symphonies

Bio

Dmitri's parents, both musicians, noticed his musical talent early. When he was 5 years old, he attended the performance of an opera. The next day his parents were surprised when he was able to sing several of the songs from the opera. At the age of 9, Shostakovich began studying piano from his mother. Then his father died and he had to support himself and his mother. His first job was playing piano in a movie house. This did not last long, however, because he would laugh so hard during the comic sections of the movies that he would stop playing. He lived in poverty, but somehow kept up his studies at the Leningrad Conservatory where he was admitted in 1919. At nineteen, he finished his First Symphony to be presented as his graduation piece at the Conservatory.

In the 1930's, he went through a time of critical disfavor in Soviet society. Shostakovich chose to combine the dissonant techniques heard in the music outside Russia into his own music and was severely criticized for doing so. He was expected by the political leadership of Russia to write music that was inspirational to the Soviet people . The success of his Fifth Symphony, however brought him back into favor. During World War II when the Nazis invaded Russia, Shostakovich served as a fire fighter. His Seventh Symphony, which reflects a sense of patriotism, was written at this time. He was also a brilliant pianist and composed many works for that instrument.

Away from his music, he was a fan of boxing, soccer and hockey.