Symphony No. 8 (Shostakovich)

From Academic Kids

The Symphony No. 8 in C minor (Opus 65) by Dmitri Shostakovich was written in the summer of 1943, and first performed on 4th November that year by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky, to whom the work is dedicated.

The work is only slightly shorter than the Seventh Symphony, and has five movements:

  1. Adagio - Allegro non troppo
  2. Allegretto
  3. Allegro non troppo -
  4. Largo -
  5. Allegretto

The symphony's C minor key has encouraged its interpretation as a journey from tragedy to triumph, in the tradition of Beethoven's Fifth, Bruckner's Eighth and Mahler's Second. The first movement is the longest at almost half an hour. The composer described the short second movement allegretto as "a march with elements of a scherzo"; the third movement is again short, driven onwards by motor rhythms. This movement has been interpreted as a depiction of battle, or (by Kurt Sanderling) as "the crushing of the individual" by the Soviet system. The fourth movement is a passacaglia, while the last movement lasts 15 minutes and ends in a quiet flute solo over pizzicato and tremolo strings. The composer's friend Isaak Glikman called it "his most tragic work" (Wilson p. 174).

It was not well received, its bleak tone making it unsuitable as propaganda at home or abroad. It was given the subtitle the Stalingrad Symphony and portrayed as a memorial to those killed in that battle. It was criticised by Prokofiev and others at a Composers's Plenum in March 1944, and after the Zhdanov decree of 1948 it was effectively banned until 1960.

Further reading

  • Wilson, Elizabeth (1994). Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691044651.

External links

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