Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich (September 25, 1906 - August 9, 1975) was a Russian composer. He is best known for his fifteen symphonies and fifteen string quartets, among other works.
He was born in St. Petersburg to Dmitri Boleslavovich Shostakovich and Sofiya Kokoulina. He studied piano from the age of eight, and began to write music shortly thereafter. He studied at the Petrograd Conservatory from 1919 to 1926. In 1926, his First Symphony was premiered at the conservatory.
In 1934, his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District was premiered, and was initially successful. The opera was officially criticized in Pravda in 1936. As a result of this, Shostakovich suppressed his Fourth Symphony, which he was writing at the time, until 1961. His next major work, the Fifth Symphony, was successful both with officials and with the public. He allowed the Fifth Symphony to be designated "A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism" and acceded to the official interpretation of its finale as the triumphant culmination of heroic struggle, but many musicians, historians and others have, since its first performance, interpreted the work as tragic. His Seventh Symphony (1941) was popular in Russia and allied countries during World War II, due partly to its official interpretation as symbolizing the resistance of the citizens of Leningrad to the German siege of that city.
Shostakovich was once again criticized in 1948. For a period of over a year, the performance of his works was restricted in the USSR. He was rehabilitated in 1949. His Tenth Symphony (1953), is among his best-known works, and includes the DSCH motif and the Elmira motif. Nina Varzar died in 1954; he was married to Margarita Kainova from 1956 until their divorce in 1959.
Among Shostakovich's later works are the Eighth Quartet (1960), which is seen as to some extent autobiographical and makes use of allusions to many of his other works, and the Thirteenth Symphony (1962), in which he set five poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko for bass voice, male chorus, and orchestra. He married Irina Supinskaya in 1962. Shostakovich died of lung cancer in Moscow in 1975.
- See also Musicologie.org (French)