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This is one composer I personally like a lot, he was probably one of the greatest composers of the XXth Century and I always enjoy his music. He composed 15 symphonies which have themes and a complex history surrounding their creation. He also composed music in various genre. Though born in St-Petersburg in the last years of Imperial rule before the Revolution, he grew up in Soviet Russia and worked as a musician and composer during Stalin’s 30 year dictatorship. He suffered personally and he knew that despite his great fame at home and abroad, he could be arrested and killed on Stalin’s orders at any moment, that almost happened in 1937 and again in 1948.

To me Shostakovich represents the Russian People under those terrible years of Communism, how they persevered despite it all and survived.

I have been thinking of him a lot in the last few days. He use to say at the end of his life about the dictatorship of Stalin, how can people say; I did not know, I did not understand what was happening, how could they not have known. This is so true of any country where events create disharmony and fractures in Society. I hear such voices now around me here, people who say; I am not interested in what is going on, I do not vote, I do not read or listen to the news, why should I care. Will these same people later claim that they did not know or did not understand?

by Ida Kar, vintage bromide print, 1959

photo by Ida Kar, 1959

Under Stalin’s rule (1922-1952) some 30 million Russians where killed in his numerous purges, victim of his paranoia. This video made with the support of the Canadian Government and Canadian producers in 1997, is very interesting and well made, speakers are people who knew Shostakovich, friends, family, colleagues.