Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8
Stephen Johnson explores Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony, a work the composer described as a 'poem of suffering'.
In the wake of the huge success of the Leningrad Symphony, in 1943 Shostakovich returned to the subject of war in his Eighth Symphony. This time he wanted to reflect on the tragedy of a war in which he said, "twenty-seven million Soviet lives were lost." At the time though, its popularity with audiences wasn't matched by the Soviet authorities, who denounced it as counter-revolutionary. The Minister of Culture went so far as to declare it "repulsive and ultra individualist" and by 1948 it had almost disappeared from the repertory. Stephen Johnson examines the forces at play in the Eighth Symphony, a work seen by the composer as a "poem of suffering".