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eMusic Features

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On This Date: Shostakovich Began His Fifth Symphony 75 Years Ago

By Steve Holtje, Contributor

When Dmitri Shostakovich began his Fifth Symphony on April 18, 1937, his life hung in the balance. In January 1936, the official Soviet newspaper Pravda ran an editorial, "Muddle Instead of Music," attacking him at the behest of Stalin, whose conservative musical tastes were offended by the modernism of Shostakovich's until-then wildly successful opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.Ten days later, another editorial, "Balletic Falsity," attacked Shostakovich's music for the ballet Bright Stream. After rehearsing his new… more »

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Mstislav Rostropovich: The Last Superstar Of Classical Music

By Justin Davidson, Contributor

In 1943, Mstislav Rostropovich, already a famously incandescent young cellist but an indifferent pianist and composer, sat down at a keyboard in the Moscow Conservatory and banged nervously through a piano concerto he had written. He had an audience of one: Dmitri Shostakovich. The composer was noncommittal about the piece, but he became Rostropovich's neighbor, regular collaborator and close friend. It was one of the most significant meetings in 20th-century musical history. Shostakovich dedicated both… more »