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Dmitri Shostakovich's Music Speaking to New Generations

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Twentieth-century Russian composer DmitriShostakovich composed much of his work under the shadow of political oppression. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, today, his music and his personal story continue to inspire a new generation.

Listen to WRTI 90.1 on Sunday, August 27th at 1 pm to hear The Philadelphia Orchestra's 2017 performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4.

Courtesy of the artist
Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili

Radio script: 

Susan Lewis: Shostakovich wrote his first violin concerto in 1947 and 1948. But the government was again cracking down on arts and culture considered anti-Soviet, and didn’t schedule the premiere for seven years after Stalin had died. 

Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili was born four years after Shostakovich died, but was introduced to the composer and his story as a young child.

Lisa Batiashvili: His picture was hanging in my father’s room. It was the only picture hanging.

SL: The daughter of musicians. And Lisa grew up listening to Shostakovich’s music. 

Dmitri Shostakovich

LB: Yes, Shostakovich was a kind of hero to every post-Soviet musician. Because he was the person telling the Soviet story better than anyone else. Of course his music was performed a lot in my childhood.

SL: She now performs his music, including the violin concerto.

LB: Yes, this is one of the strongest pieces of the 20th century for me, personally. It gives a full picture of the life of a human being in the Soviet Union, in the most difficult times - the Communist times.

SL: Among his many compositions, Shostakovich wrote 15 symphonies, 15 string quartets, multiple works for piano, chamber ensembles, and film, as well as opera, ballet, and vocal music.

Listen to violinist Lisa Batiashvilli talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about how the music and story of Shostakovich has influenced her - while she was growing up and in her career.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.