Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

"Shostakovich 5: Notes for Stalin"

'Shostakovich 5: Notes for Stalin'

Dmitri Shostakovich's opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” was immensely successful in the U.S.S.R. after it was published in 1934—until Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin saw the performance in January 1936. Two days later, under Stalin's orders, the Russian newspaper Pravda published a scathing condemnation of the work, causing Shostakovich to fall out of favor. Shostakovich lived in fear—he would sleep in the stairwell outside his apartment, so that, were he arrested, his family wouldn't have to see. In November 1937, he decided to premiere his Fifth Symphony, hoping that its lyrical, heroic tone and focus on Russian literature would curry favor with the Soviet leadership. The...