Klaus Mäkelä conducts Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 ー premiered 25 years after he wrote it.
Dmitri Shostakovich broke through as a composer with his first symphony in 1926, only 19 years old. His career subsequently continued to take off internationally as well as at home in the Soviet Union. In 1935 he began his most ambitious symphony project to date, his fourth symphony. Shostakovich had studied Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 thoroughly and put together a symphony that was longer than his three previous ones and was for a larger orchestra.
While he was working on it, none other than Joseph Stalin himself attended one of his operas. It didn’t go particularly well. A few days later a powerful attack against Shostakovich appeared in print in the Communist newspaper Pravda. This marked the beginning of a nightmare for him which, among other things, meant that his Symphony No. 4 could not be performed. It was not until 1961, many years after Stalin’s death, that the time was right for its premiere in Moscow and this met with great success.
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