Dmitri Šostakovič: Babi Yar, Symphony no.13 in B-flat minor

Music, Classical and opera
Dmitri Šostakovič
© Royal Opera House Covent Garden

Time Out says

Dmitri Šostakovič is one of the most important composers of the 20th century, a writer and musician who stood as a vital cultural bridge between the Soviet Union and the international community during the former's most isolationist years. Despite his patriotism, he refused to allow his art to be dictated by authorities leading to him being denounced several times inj his home country although, since his death in 1975, he has been rightly celebrated for his vast contributions. Combining the sometimes discordant neo-classical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky with the more traditional and melodic late Romanticism of composers such as Gustav Mahler, he was first denounced by the artistically ignorant Stalin for his modern approach, then by the public because of doubts about his patriotism and then again by national authorities for the complete opposite of his first denunciation; for being to formal in his writing, his music viewed as assuming too many traditional, western themes. Throughout his career he was viciously attacked via state-owned propaganda materials, despite simultaneously being commissioned by state-owned bodies. His Symphony no.13, sometimes known as Babi Yar, is regarded as his most shocking, distressing and emotive piece. Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the site of a massacre carried out by Nazi forces during World War II in which more than thirty-three thousand Jews were killed in less than a week.


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