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Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975)


Soviet composer and pianist.
Dmitri Shostakovich
When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.
Shostakovich quotes
The real geniuses know where their writing has to be good and where they can get away with some mediocrity.
Shostakovich
Music is a means capable of expressing dark dramatism and pure rapture, suffering and ecstasy, fiery and cold fury, melancholy and wild merriment – and the subtlest nuances and interplay of these feelings which words are powerless to express and which are unattainable in painting and sculpture.




Shostakovich Dmitri quotes
I live in the USSR, work actively and count naturally on the worker and peasant spectator. If I am not comprehensible to them I should be deported.
Shostakovich Dmitri
What do you think of Puccini?
[ Britten: "I think his operas are dreadful."]
No, Ben, you are wrong. He wrote marvellous operas, but dreadful music.
Dmitri Shostakovich quotes
The majority of my symphonies are tombstones.
Dmitri Shostakovich
The Allies enjoyed my music, as though trying to say: Look how we like Shostakovich's symphonies, and you still want something more from us, a second front or something.
Shostakovich Dmitri quotes
A creative artist works on his next composition because he is not satisfied with his previous one. When he loses a critical attitude toward his own work, he ceases to be an artist.
Shostakovich
Jewish folk music has made a most powerful impression on me. I never tire of delighting in it, it's multifaceted, it can appear to be happy while it is tragic. It's almost always laughter through tears. This quality of Jewish folk music is close to my ideas of what music should be. There should always be two layers in music. Jews were tormented for so long that they learned to hide their despair. They express despair in dance music.
Shostakovich Dmitri
The withering away of illusions is a long and dreary process, like a toothache. But you can pull out a tooth. Illusions, dead, continue to rot within us. And stink. And you can't escape them. I carry all of mine around with me.
Dmitri Shostakovich
I feel eternal pain for those who were killed by Hitler, but I feel no less pain for those killed on Stalin's orders. I suffer for everyone who was tortured, shot, or starved to death.




Dmitri Shostakovich quotes
What you have in your head, put down on paper. The head is a fragile vessel.
Dmitri Shostakovich
If they cut off both hands, I will compose music anyway holding the pen in my teeth.
Shostakovich quotes
There can be no music without ideology. The old composers, whether they knew it or not, were upholding a political theory. Most of them, of course, were bolstering the rule of the upper classes. Only Beethoven was a forerunner of the revolutionary movement. If you read his letters, you will see how often he wrote to his friends that he wished to give new ideas to the public and rouse it to revolt against its masters.
Shostakovich Dmitri
Many consider that Shostakovich is the greatest 20th-century composer. In his 15 symphonies, 15 quartets, and in other works he demonstrated mastery of the largest and most challenging forms with music of great emotional power and technical invention…All his works are marked by emotional extremes – tragic intensity, grotesque and bizarre wit, humour, parody, and savage sarcasm.
Shostakovich Dmitri quotes
I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in Boris Godunov. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, "Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing," and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, "Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing."
Dmitri Shostakovich
Here is music turned deliberately inside out in order that nothing will be reminiscent of classical opera, or have anything in common with symphonic music or with simple and popular musical language accessible to all...Here we have "leftist" confusion instead of natural human music. The power of good music to infect the masses has been sacrificed to a petty-bourgeois, "formalist" attempt to create originality through cheap clowning. It is a game of clever ingenuity that may end very badly.
Dmitri Shostakovich quotes
He is thinner, taller, younger – more boyish-looking – than expected, but he is also the shyest and most nervous human being I have ever seen. He chews not merely his nails but his fingers, twitches his pouty mouth and chin, chain-smokes, wiggles his nose in constant adjustment of his spectacles, looks querulous one moment and ready to cry the next. His hands tremble, he stutters, his whole frame wobbles when he shakes hands…There is no betrayal of the thoughts behind those frightened, very intelligent eyes.
Dmitri Shostakovich
What can be considered human emotions? Surely not only lyricism, sadness, tragedy? Doesn't laughter also have a claim to that lofty title? I want to fight for the legitimate right of laughter in "serious" music.
Shostakovich Dmitri
A great piece of music is beautiful regardless of how it is performed. Any prelude or fugue of Bach can be played at any tempo, with or without rhythmic nuances, and it will still be great music. That's how music should be written, so that no-one, no matter how philistine, can ruin it.


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