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A Shostakovich Timeline

St Basil's Cathedral - Moscow

Read a timeline of Shostakovich's life, including details of his most important works and life events.

    1906

    Shostakovich is born in St Petersburg on September 25 to Dmitrij Boleslavovich Shostakovich (1875-1922), a government inspector of weights and measures, and his wife Sofja Vasilevna (1878-1955).

      1915

      At nine years old he starts to play the piano under his mother's guidance.

      He begins formal piano lessons with O. F. Gljasser, later with her husband I. A. Gljasser.

        1919

        Shostakovich is admitted to the Petrograd Conservatory. He studies piano with Leonid Nikolayev and composition with Maximilian Shteynberg. He also works with Glazunov.

        He writes his Opus 1. Scherzo in F sharp.

          1923

          Marries Nina Vasilevna Varzar (mother of his two children).

            1926

            Shostakovich's graduation piece, Symphony No. 1 is premiered in Leningrad to great acclaim.

              1927

              Symphony No 2, 'To October', is commissioned for the 10th anniversary of the revolution.

                1930

                The Opera 'Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenks district' is started. It was first produced in 1934 in Leningrad and Moscow.  There were almost 200 performances of the opera by the end of 1936.

                  1936

                  Pravda attacks the opera describing it as 'Chaos instead of Music'.  Shostakovich decides to respond in his Fifth Symphony.

                    1937

                    The Fifth Symphony is published and came to be known as 'The creative reply of the Soviet artist to justified criticism'.

                      1940

                      Shostakovich receives the Stalin Prize for his Piano Quintet.

                        1941

                        Besieged in Leningrad, he composed the first three movements of his 7th Symphony, which he later dedicated to the city.

                          1942

                          The microfilmed score of the 7th symphony was smuggled out of Russia and Toscanini conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra to an audience of millions. This work became the symbol of resistance against Nazism.

                            1948

                            Cultural purges. Composers including Prokofiev and Shostakovich are accused of embracing the 'cult of atonality, dissonance and discord...'.

                              1953

                              After a pause of eight years, Shostakovich returns to the symphonic form and produces his 10th Symphony.  It is recognised as a masterpiece both here and abroad.

                                1954

                                Nina, Shostakovich's wife, dies.

                                  1956

                                  Marries Margarita Andreevna Kajnova, an activist in the Young Communist League.

                                    1959

                                    He writes the Cello Concerto no. 1. It was dedicated to Rostropovich who gave the first performance in Lenigrad.

                                    Divorces Margarita.

                                      1960

                                      String Quartets no. 7 & 8 are composed. No. 8 is dedicated 'to the memory of the victims of fascism and the war'.

                                        1961

                                        Despite a gradual liberalisation of the arts, Shostakovich becomes rather more conservative and chastises the musical avant garde.  He writes his Symphony no 12 'To the memory of Lenin' or 'The year 1917'.

                                          1962

                                          Marries Irina Antonova Supinskaja.

                                            1966

                                            Shostakovich develops a heart complaint from which he never fully recovers.  He is also troubled by severe arthiritis.

                                            He is named 'Hero of Socialist Labour'.  He produces his String Quartet no. 11.

                                              1975

                                              Shostakovich is elected as an honorary member to the French Academy of Arts and Sciences.

                                              He produces the Viola Sonata, Op 47, his last completed work.  He dies on 9 August in Moscow.



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