Saturday evening, the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra will play the 20th Century's most popular Symphony, the Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich. Their first rendition of it was almost exactly twelve years ago.
For years, most people in the USSR and the rest of the world thought the work to be a contrite paean to "socialist realism," meant to gain favor with Soviet musical apparatchiks after Shostakovich's purge from that country's musical life over Stalin's disgust with the composer's realistic opera, Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District.
With the publication of Solomon Volkov's "Testimony" in the early 1970s, though, a new look at Shostakovich the protest composer was born. It turns out that Shostakovich, with this great work, was flipping off the most brutal European dictator of the 20th Century.
Below, is a YouTube of the Finale of the 5th. It has a running commentary, hilarious at times, based on comments taken from the YouTube of Leonard Bernstein's rendition of the famous march.
My favorite comment is, "It was actually Shostakovich's saying 'Fuck You!' to Josef Stalin. When will some U.S. composer do the same to G.W. Bush...?"
anyway - here's Lenny, Dmitri, and comments:
image - Shostakovich as Leningrad firefighter in late 1941 or early 1942