Shostakovich Stories: 10 facts about one of Russia's most influential composers
13 Nov 2014
This weekend Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra join us for Sublime Shostakovich. In homage to a lineage of influential Russian composers - who have shaped the form of classical music as we know it - they'll present a stunning evening of music performing Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2 alongside works from Tchaikovsky and Borodin.
Inspired by this we’ve put together a selection of facts on one of the most enigmatic and intriguing figures of classical music of the 20th Century.
- Aged just 12, Shostakovich composed a funerary march in memory of two leaders of the Kadet party, murdered by Bolshevik sailors.
- Shostakovich loved football; he was a certified referee and his favourite team was Zenit Leningrad.
- Following condemnation by state newspaper Pravda for his 1934 piece Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Shostakovich slept in the stairwell of his apartment to spare his family the experience of his imminent arrest.
- His Eighth String Quartet, Op 110, was written from start to finish in just over three days!
- Dmitry Krymov, one of Russia’s most influential theatre directors, created a biopic of Shostakovich entitled Opus No. 7. Featuring duelling pianos, living walls and blizzards of newsprint, the UK Premiere was performed at Brighton Festival 2014.
Watch a trailer for this stunning show below…
- Shostakovich’s Waltz No. 2 is one of the most recognized classical music pieces in the world, made popular by Dutch virtuoso violinist Andre Rieu and Stanley Kubrick, in his 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut.
Watch Andre Rieau perform it live below:
- 300 pages of original music composed by Shostakovich were recovered in 2004; they had been salvaged during his lifetime when a composer friend bribed Shostakovich’s housemaid to deliver the contents of his office waste bin to him, instead of taking it to the garbage.
- Shostakovich was a little neurotic; obsessed with cleanliness, he would regularly synchronize the clocks in his apartment and send cards to himself to test how well the postal service was working.
- His Seventh Symphony was premiered in his home-city Leningrad by the Red Orchestra whilst it lay under siege from the German army; with only 14 musicians left in the orchestra Karl Eliasberg recruited anyone who could play a musical instrument to perform the symphony!
- Having tried to enlist for the military in the Second World War, Shostakovich volunteered for the Leningrad Conservatory’s firefighter brigade.