Symphony No. 10 (Shostakovich)

From Academic Kids

The Symphony No. 10 in E minor (Opus 93) by Dmitri Shostakovich was premiered by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky on 17 December 1953, following the death of Stalin in March that year. It is not clear when it was written: according to the composer's letters composition was between July and October 1953, but Tatiana Nikolayeva has stated it was completed in 1951. Sketches for some of the material date from 1946 (Wilson p. 262).

The symphony has four movements:

  1. Moderato
  2. Allegro
  3. Allegretto
  4. Andante - Allegro

It was Shostakovich's first symphonic work since his denunciation in 1948. It thus has significance somewhat comparable to that of the Fifth Symphony in relation to the 1936 denunciation. As in that work, he quotes from one of his settings of Pushkin: in the first movement, from the second of the his Four Pushkin Monologues, entitled "What is in My Name?" This theme of personal identity is picked up again in the third and fourth movements. The second movement is a short and violent scherzo, described in Testimony as "a musical portrait of Stalin, roughly speaking". The third movement is a nocturne built around two musical codes: the DSCH theme representing Shostakovich, and the Elmira theme: The Elmira theme

At concert pitch one fifth lower, the notes spell out E La Mi Re A in a combination of French and German notation. This motif, called out twelve times on the horn, represents Elmira Nazirova, a student of the composer's with whom he fell in love. The themes alternate and gradually draw closer. In the final movement, a naively happy tune is displaced by a Georgian gopak, which recalls the second movement theme. It is in turn defeated by the triumphant DSCH theme.

Further reading

  • Wilson, Elizabeth (1994). Shostakovich: A Life Remembered. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691044651.

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