This week at strings: A birthday party with history
Shostakovich and Mozart share a musical anniversary. Born exactly 150 years apart, the world celebrates their birthdays with great fanfare every fifty years. Mozart may be getting all the attention this year (it’s his 250th), but Dmitri Shostakovich’s (1906-1975) 100th birthday is due profound respect as well.
Born right before the Bol——shevik Revolution, Sho–stakovich spent his life compromised by the Soviet regime. Immensely popular with the general public during Lenin’s reign, the young composer suffered under Stalin’s attack on artistic experimentation and the avant-garde. Shostakovich, it seems, could not win. While receiving two official denunciations as well as periodic banning of his music, he was also the most popular Soviet composer of his time, with numerous accolades and state awards. He was both the “first true artistic child of the revolution” and an “enemy of the state.”
Great debate centers on whether Shostakovich compromised his creativity to protect his position and reputation, or whether he was secretly a musical dissident, writing complex and oppositional music with banal overtones masking the music’s hidden meaning. Shostakovich is always described in this political context. But what truly makes him unique is that his compositions, and the feelings inspired by them, resonate with a 21st century audience: expression and freedom.
You’ll have the opportunity to examine Shostakovich’s music Wednesday at Strings in the Mountains Music Festival. At 5:30 p.m. the festival conducts its Pre-Concert Talks with “Shostakovich Centenary Tribute.” Then at 7:00 p.m., Shostakovich’s great Piano Trio in E Minor will be performed.
Written in 1944, the trio was dedicated to his close friend, musicologist Ivan Sollertinsky. It was also a expression of grief over the Holocaust, the news of which had recently reached the public of the U.S.S.R. Shostakovich employs a “Jewish theme” where scales and rhythms of Jewish folk music are emphasized.
National Symphony Orchestra’s Lambert Orkis (Principal Keyboard) and David Hardy (Principal Cello), and rising star Tai Murray (violin), perform the Trio Wednesday evening. Pieces by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev and Polish composer Moritz Moszkowski will also be performed. Tickets are $22 and the concert begins at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms will be performed at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets and concert information for all Strings in the Mountains performances is available at http://www.stringsinthemountains.com and by phone (970)879-5056 x. 105.
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