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Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

With straightforward musicality and a heroically charged finale, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony was already a success at its premiere performance in 1937. We hear the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo in the composer’s most famous and beloved symphony.

The history of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony is well known, but it is also important to tell. Josef Stalin attended a performance of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (which was later revised and renamed Katerina Izmailova) at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He was appalled, and an article titled “Chaos rather than music” was published in the newspaper Pravda. This was the beginning of a witch-hunt for Shostakovich, who feared for his life. He thus withdrew his already composed Fourth Symphony and presented Symphony No. 5 instead, with the comment “An artist’s response to just criticism”.

What was truly concealed in his Fifth Symphony has been a topic of discussion ever since, because no one truly knows his innermost thoughts and feelings. The Fifth Symphony is one of his most played, and it contains elements that surely kept the heroically oriented Soviet politicians happy. However, there are also traces of inner melancholy, sarcasm, and cryptic irony. 

  • The music

  • Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony No. 5
  • Participants

  • Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Sakari Oramo conductor
  • Filmed in January 2014.
  • The video is approximately 53 minutes.