Shostakovich Quartet No. 14
Shostakovich Quartet No. 15
The musical career of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) mirrored exactly the rise and history of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1975. He entered the Petrograd Conservatory at the very end of the Tsarist era; he witnessed the Revolution and began his career during Lenin’s rule; he was nearly purged twice by Stalin; he flourished under Khrushchev and died while Brezhnev was in power. Shostakovich was a survivor and a great composer, and his fear and self-loathing, his courage and experience found their way into his music. As such, Shostakovich is not just the most important composer of string quartets and symphonies from the 1920s to the 1970s; even more, he and his music stand as witnesses to the rise and failures of the Soviet Union, one of the defining events of the 20th century.