The Oslo Philharmonic's Shostakovich Series

On 14 August 2024, the orchestra's and Chief Conductor Klaus Mäkelä's Shostakovich series will be launched. The upcoming season includes three of the composer's symphonies.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) had his breakthrough as a composer in the 1920s and is today considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. During his career, he wrote 15 symphonies. Under Stalin’s regime, Shostakovich was strongly influenced by the dictator’s constant alternation between dislike and benevolence.

16 and 17 January, Chief Conductor Klaus Mäkelä conducts Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1. The symphony premiered in 1926 and helped make the 19-year-old Shostakovich one of the Soviet Union’s leading composers. In his first symphony, you can hear sources of inspiration such as Mahler and Stravinsky. Still, you can also glimpse what would eventually become Shostakovich’s characteristic composer’s voice.

You can hear Shostakovich’s 15th and last symphony in the same concert. He started working on the piece towards the end of 1970, and the symphony premiered in 1972—three years before his death. His complicated relationship with the government meant that Shostakovich spoke vaguely towards the end of his life. That is perhaps why this symphony does not have one clear message but many hints and no clear answers.

12 February 2025, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 is on the program. The symphony has the subtitle The Year 1905 and tells the story of the Russian revolution of 1905.

The first movement opens with the eerie atmosphere in front of the Winter Palace before the start of the revolution. It was here, at “the bloody Sunday” of 22 January 1905, that the revolution started. A large crowd, mainly striking workers, staged a demonstration in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The Russian Tsar Nikolai II was not home, and the protest march was met with bullets when they closed in on the palace. Over 100 protesters were killed.

Klaus Mäkelä Dmitri Shostakovich

Oslo Concert Hall

Classical Hour
Klaus Mäkelä
Dmitri Shostakovich

Oslo Concert Hall

Klaus Mäkelä Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Dmitri Shostakovich

Oslo Concert Hall