Twentieth-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich composed much of his work under the shadow of political oppression. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, today, his music and his personal story continue to inspire a new generation.
Susan Lewis: Shostakovich wrote his first violin concerto in 1947 and 1948. But the government was again cracking down on arts and culture considered anti-Soviet, and didn’t schedule the premiere for seven years after Stalin had died.
Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili was born four years after Shostakovich died, but was introduced to the composer and his story as a young child.
Lisa Batiashvili: His picture was hanging in my father’s room. It was the only picture hanging.
SL: The daughter of musicians. And Lisa grew up listening to Shostakovich’s music.
LB: Yes, Shostakovich was a kind of hero to every post-Soviet musician. Because he was the person telling the Soviet story better than anyone else. Of course his music was performed a lot in my childhood.
SL: She now performs his music, including the violin concerto.
LB: Yes, this is one of the strongest pieces of the 20th century for me, personally. It gives a full picture of the life of a human being in the Soviet Union, in the most difficult times - the Communist times.
SL: Among his many compositions, Shostakovich wrote 15 symphonies, 15 string quartets, multiple works for piano, chamber ensembles, and film, as well as opera, ballet, and vocal music.