Shostakovich: A Musical Revolutionary

Tuesday 14 November, 7.00pm

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) is one of the most fascinating artists ever to have lived and also one of the greatest - despite the monstrous pressures on the composer in post-revolutionary Russia. Shostakovich’s youth was dominated by the civil war that followed the revolution. This talk will explore the complex relationship between Shostakovich’s artistic genius and the cultural policies of a murderous totalitarian regime. 

Vishnevskaya Shostakovich.jpg

Shostakovich’s success with his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was short-lived; he was savagely denounced by the government (a Pravda article declared his opera ‘muddle instead of music’) and thereafter he lived uneasily in Stalin’s firing line. The extent to which Shostakovich remained true to himself as an artist whilst also acquiescing to political demands continues to be a matter of debate and controversy. 

Guy Holloway, the headmaster of Hampton Court House and an authority on Russian music, will lead you through what promises to be an emotionally charged and illuminating evening.This talk will appeal to those who already know something of Shostakovich, as well as to anyone who is yet to discover the elemental power and eloquence of his works.


Symphony No.8, conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky. Trumpet solo: Vladimir Kafelnikov

String Quartet Op. 108, performed by the Borodin Quartet

Lullaby from Jewish Folk Poetry, Op. 79, No.3, performed by Zara Dolukhanova, contralto, with Shostakovich himself accompanying on the piano

An all-star line up perform the Piano Quintet:

Martha Argerich, piano
Mischa Maisky, cello
Joshua Bell, violin
Henning Kraggerud, violin
Yuri Bashmet, viola


The Presenter

Guy Holloway the headmaster of Hampton Court House. He is an authority on Russian composers and on the recorded legacy of Soviet era musicians (Shafran, Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya Yudina, Neuhaus, Richter, Gilels, Mravinsky etc). Guy teaches a unique course in the history of music at Hampton Court House and is also a reviewer of concerts for the online magazine