Following the denunciation of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth in 1936, the composer set to work on what historians consider to be a response to the Pravda’s remarks, calling his Fifth Symphony “a Soviet artist’s reply to just criticism.” While the work followed the rules set by socialist realism using the standard four-movement format and accessible tonal structure, Symphony No. 5 also exhibits a sense of sadness possibly felt by the composer following his opera controversy. The slow movement, for example, portrays the sounds of Russian funeral music, creating sorrowful sentiments for audiences. This symphony brought Shostakovich back under good terms with the government while still allowing him to secretly display his emotions.
Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 is tonight’s 6 o’clock symphony. Tune in to 90.9 WGUC and then let me know how it moves your “affections” (or emotions). After hearing Shostakovich’s story, do you share his sentiments?
What ever happened to Lady Macbeth? Well, the opera remained untouched until 1956 when Shostakovich revised and renamed it Katerina Izmaylova. It is still performed in opera houses today.