No Russian composer experienced the oppressive hand of the Soviet state more than Dmitri Shostakovich. Composed 30 years after the revolution, Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto was written in the shadow of his public denunciation by the regime, and the masterpiece was not performed until 1955, after Stalin’s death.

Shostakovich was censured in Soviet newspaper Pravda – possibly by Stalin himself – while he was composing his radical Fourth Symphony, in January 1936. The composer bravely pressed on with the composition, though withdrew its premiere. When the symphony was finally performed 25 years later, Shostakovich reportedly said: ‘I think… in some ways… my Fourth is better than the symphonies that came after.’

This concert is part of the Voices of Revolution: Russia 1917 series

Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor

James Ehnes violin


SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No. 1