Anniversaries: Dmitri Shostakovich Born 110 Years Ago

Many consider Dmitri Shostakovich the greatest composer of the 20th century. Born September 25, 1906, he might not have lived past his teens if he hadn't been talented. During the famines of the Revolutionary period in Russia, Alexander Glazunov, director of the Petrograd (later Leningrad) Conservatory, arranged for the poor and malnourished Shostakovich's food ration to be increased. Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1, his graduation exercise for Maximilian Steinberg's composition course at the Conservatory, was completed in 1925 at age 19 and was an immediate success worldwide. He was The Party's poster boy; his Second and Third Symphonies unabashedly subtitled, respectively, "To October". (celebrating the Revolution) and "The First of May". (International Workers' Day).

His highly emotional harmonic language is simultaneously tough yet communicative, but his expansion of Mahlerian symphonic structure, dissonances, sardonic irony, and dark moods eventually clashed with the conservative edicts of Communist Party officials. In 1936 he was viciously denounced by Pravda
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