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Symphony V, Finale (Shostakovich Rogers)

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Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich (trans. R Mark Rogers)


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This work bears the designation Opus 47.


General Info

Year: 1937 / 2003
Duration: c. 12:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Instrumentation

(Needed, please join the WRP if you can help.)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Dmitri Shostakovich struggled famously under the yoke of Josef Stalin and the Soviet cultural apparatus. His symphonies, still immensely popular in today’s concert halls, display his ability to communicate in his own voice while managing the expectations of the regime.

Shostakovich employed a traditional four-movement format with his Fifth Symphony, perhaps seeking to avoid the harsh criticism and threats received by his more modernist works. Premièred in 1937 by the Leningrad Philharmonic, the symphony was an immediate success, its struggle and tragedy connecting with audiences across Russia during an era of Stalinist purging. After three movements of darkness, the finale opens with a militaristic flourish and bone-chilling percussion. Yet, the symphony does not conclude without hope; as Shostakovich revealed later in life: “I wanted to convey in the symphony how, through a series of tragic conflicts of great inner spiritual turmoil, optimism asserts itself as a world view.”

- Program Note from Marine Band concert program, 7 July 2016


Completed in 1937, this symphony is commonly subtitled A Soviet artist’s reply to just criticism after Stalin’s denouncement of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtensk for its degenerate and modernist tendencies. Any kind of adventurous music was banned. Shostakovich became a marked man and his Mahleresque Fourth Symphony was withdrawn not long after its premiere.

The Fifth Symphony follows the outline of a traditional symphony, providing safe music, following old formulas. It was a rousing success. Shostakovich reportedly said, “The idea behind my symphony is the making of a man. I saw him, with all his experience, at the centre of the work, which is lyrical from beginning to end. The Finale brings an optimistic solution to the tragic parts of the first movement.”

In his memoirs, smuggled from Russia after his death, he wrote: "What exultation could there be? I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat ... 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.’ What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that."

- Program Note by William V. Johnson for the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra concert program, 15 May 2010


The facts surrounding the Symphony No. 5 have long been a subject of controversy among Shostakovich scholars, particularly in view of Testimony, the composer’s alleged memoirs, and the firestorm of research and rebuttals that followed. Some of these facts, however, are not in dispute: the subtitle “a Soviet artist’s creative reply to just criticism” was attached to the symphony by a journalist, not by the composer, and Shostakovich himself never proclaimed one interpretation or another of this composition to be definitive. These ideas alone present the opportunity for musicians to experience the piece as an objective masterwork and not merely as a programmatic statement.

The U.S. Army Field Band commissioned R. Mark Rogers to create a new transcription of the symphony’s final movement for a 2003 premiere at The Midwest Clinic. The arranger viewed this commission as a way to faithfully render the orchestral original while preserving the intangible qualities of the work. He reminds us, “Shostakovich knew that art was a deadly serious business, able to illustrate the best or worst of a culture and civilization.” By creating a transcription rooted in authenticity, Rogers strives to keep this legacy alive for generations of young musicians.

Rogers placed a particular emphasis upon finding an objective basis for interpretation, examining the full score as published by the state press of the Soviet Union as well as the recordings of great conductors such as Mravinsky, Bernstein, Rostropovich, Levi, and Maxim Shostakovich. Although these conductors’ interpretations have varied in many ways, Rogers found them to be valuable tools in distilling Shostakovich’s intent from the orchestral score. He has also established a more complete instrumentation, restoring parts for piano, harp, and contrabassoon that were eliminated from more frequently performed transcriptions.

Rogers writes, “An encounter with a great piece like this should leave none of us the same as we were before, and if we grow through the experience, then we have all taken benefit from it.”

- Program Note from liner notes of U.S. Army Field Band CD Legacy


Commercial Discography


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Symphonic Band (Randall O. Coleman, conductor) – 9 October 2017


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources