Russian Personalities

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Dmitri Shostakovich – prominent composer

Dmitri Shostakovich - prominent composer

Dmitri Shostakovich – prominent composer

To me he seemed like a trapped man, whose only wish was to be left alone, to the peace of his own art and to the tragic destiny to which he, like most of his countrymen, has been forced to resign himself.
Nikolai Nabokov on meeting with Shostakovich in 1949 in New York

Dmitri Shostakovich was a Soviet and Russian composer and pianist, People’s Artist of the USSR (1954), Hero of Socialist Labor (1966), winner of the Lenin Prize (1958), five Stalin Prizes (1941, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1952), the USSR State Prize (1968) and the Glinka State Prize of the RSFSR (1974). He was one of the greatest composers of the XX century, the author of 15 symphonies, 3 operas, 3 ballets, numerous works of chamber music, music for movies and theater productions.
Dmitri was born on September 25, 1906 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire. The mother of the future composer, Sophia, was a wonderful pianist with the academic musical education. Dmitri had two sisters.
At the age of 19 Shostakovich composed First Symphony, which was presented at the First International Chopin Piano Competition in Poland in 1927. German conductor Bruno Walter noticed talented young man and organized the foreign premiere of the symphony in late 1927 in Berlin.

Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union and received accolades and state awards and served in the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1947–1962) and the USSR (from 1962 until death).
Shostakovich’s orchestral works include 15 symphonies and six concerti. His chamber output includes 15 string quartets, a piano quintet, two piano trios, and two pieces for string octet. His piano works include two solo sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include three operas, several song cycles, ballets, and a substantial quantity of film music.
Dmitri played piano in movie theaters during the silent film era in St. Petersburg, Russia.
He was able to write music in crowded places in the midst of a great deal of noise.
Dmitri was not only a famous composer, but also a remarkable teacher. He worked in the Moscow and Leningrad Conservatory and continued to teach music, even during the Great Patriotic War. His pupils were composers such as Vadim Bibergan, Revol Bunin, Herman Galynin, Karen Khachaturian and many others.
Great Russian composer died on August 9, 1975 in Moscow and was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery.

Personal life
Tatiana Glivenko was the largest, passionate and lasting love of Shostakovich. They met when they were 17 years old. But Dmitri didn’t want to be married. Tatiana as any normal woman wanted a family and children. In 1929 Tatiana married young chemist Berlin. Dmitri wrote passionate love letters to her and only three years after her marriage Shostakovich decided to make a proposal and asked to leave her husband. The woman was pregnant and did not take his words seriously. In April 1932 Glivenko became a mother and said that she didn’t want to see and hear Shostakovich any longer.

shostakovich glivenko

Shostakovich and Tatiana Glivenko

In a month Dmitry married young Nina Varzar. They lived together for more than twenty years, and she gave birth to a son and a daughter. Nina was an astrophysicist and her career could be brilliant, but she devoted herself entirely to the family. They divorced but soon got married again. After the war, Nina was in Yerevan, where she died of cancer.

Nina Varzar

Nina Shostakovich (Varzar). 1929. Picture by I.V. Varzar

The second wife of the composer became Margarita Kayonova, an employee of the Central Committee of the Komsomol, but the union was short-lived. Rita did not understand the music of the composer and was not able to take care of children.

Margarita Kayonova

Shostakovich and Margarita Kayonova

Shostakovich’s third wife was Irina Supinskaya. She was much younger than Shostakovich and had done everything to brighten up the last years of his life the great Russian genius. After the death of Shostakovich she became the guardian of his legacy.

Irina Supinskaya

Irina Supinskaya

The composer’s son, Maxim Shostakovich, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pianist and conductor.

Dmitri Shostakovich – prominent composer