Dmitri Shostakovich is now numbered amongst the greatest composers of the twentieth century, his prolific output including fifteen symphonies that speak deeply about the relationship between the individual and society, and chart his own troubled relationship with the Soviet state. The years of terror under Stalin saw the composer censured for his ‘formalist’ compositions and in fear for his life, and yet this self-effacing figure was a tenacious survivor whose music was capable of saying one thing to the authorities whilst implying something entirely different.
Following the triumph of his wartime Leningrad Symphony his 1943 8th Symphony met with a much more equivocal response, its unsparing soundworld denounced as unpatriotic and then blacklisted until 1956. But there’s little doubting now the tragic stature of this vision of a world under the heel of war, its keening lines and remorseless intensity balanced by gritty humour and, ultimately, stoical endurance. Broadcaster Stephen Johnson offers fascinating insights into this conflicted masterpiece and its creator with live orchestral illustrations from the BBC Philharmonic before a complete performance of the symphony.
Wednesday 11 January, 7.30pm
Royal Concert Hall
Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND
Box Office: 0115 989 5555