SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Description
COTW01Nikolai Roslavets20110131
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's very earliest years.
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
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We're familiar with the image of Dmitri Shostakovich the doomed, tragic hero - his epic symphonies and cryptic musical messages battling a totalitarian regime.
Yet...once upon a time, as a young man, he was a brilliant, fearless avant-garde composer - just one of a slew of daringly original musical voices in what was perhaps the world's most heady and exciting artistic melting pot at the time: 1920s Soviet Russia.
This was not - yet - a time of purges and gulags, spies and Socialist Realism.
Instead, artists, film-makers and composers were emboldened by the promise of a bright new Soviet future - composing radically original works that made the country a crucible of new, visionary art and music.
It was not to last.
This week, Donald Macleod looks at "young Dmitri"'s dazzling work of the 1920s - a period of musical adventurousness and biting musical wit that he would never be allowed to show again.
Highlights include excerpts from his surreal opera "The Nose", his film music to "The New Babylon" and his incidental music to the avant-garde play, "The Bedbug".
He also re-evaluates Shostakovich's little-played Second and Third Symphonies (with a rare, complete performance of each work).
He reveals that despite their much-derided choral finales - praising the Soviet way - the symphonies are full of extraordinary musical daring - audacity that the composer would never be allowed to attempt again.
In each of the week's programmes he pairs Shostakovich's music with a work by a contemporary from the 1920s.
You're unlikely to hear the music of Gavri'il Popov, Alexei Zhivotov, Nikolai Roslavets, Alexander Mosolov and Vladimir Deshevov in a concert hall near you anytime soon.
Yet during this remarkable burst of creativity in the 1920s, these composers composed works that still sound extraordinary even today.
For once, these composers are given their moment in the sun...as Donald Macleod explains how unlike the great survivor Shostakovich, their musical promise was to be cruelly - and tragically - snuffed out.
In Monday's episode, Donald Macleod looks as Shostakovich's very earliest years, introducing his opus 1, written as a precocious 13 year old, as well as two dreamy, sensuous poems for piano by his contemporary - and would-be musical revolutionary - Nikolai Roslavets.
COTW02Vladimir Deshevov20110201Donald Macleod with a full performance of perhaps Shostakovich's least-played symphony.
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
Tuesday sees Donald Macleod presenting a complete performance of perhaps Shostakovich's least-played symphony, his Second - complete with tubthumping choral finale in praise of the Revolution.
Yet this is no potboiler...but one of the most daringly original works of the early 20th century.
The episode opens with a brutal miniature for piano by Shostakovich's forgotten contemporary, Vladimir Deshevov, evoking the clangourous, steely grind of life in industrial Russia.
COTW02Vladimir Deshevov20110201Donald Macleod with a full performance of perhaps Shostakovich's least-played symphony.
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
Tuesday sees Donald Macleod presenting a complete performance of perhaps Shostakovich's least-played symphony, his Second - complete with tubthumping choral finale in praise of the Revolution. Yet this is no potboiler...but one of the most daringly original works of the early 20th century. The episode opens with a brutal miniature for piano by Shostakovich's forgotten contemporary, Vladimir Deshevov, evoking the clangourous, steely grind of life in industrial Russia.
COTW02Vladimir Deshevov20110201
COTW03Alexander Mosolov20110202Donald Macleod presents an excerpt from Shostakovich's surreal debut opera, The Nose.
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
Wednesday's programme features Shostakovich at his zaniest - and perhaps most brilliantly original.
After two scurrilous arrangements of Scarlatti, Donald Macleod presents excerpts from Shostakovich's first opera, "The Nose", a surreal tale of nasal amputation and Kafkaesque bureaucracy.
The programme finishes with a masterpiece not by Shostakovich, but by his contemporary Alexander Mosolov - a man who would later be the only major composer to be sent to the gulag.
Mosolov's Piano Concerto no.1 is like no other in classical music - a bewildering procession of melodies and influences that mirrors the chaotic artistic melting-pot of 1920s Soviet Russia.
COTW03Alexander Mosolov20110202Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
Wednesday's programme features Shostakovich at his zaniest - and perhaps most brilliantly original. After two scurrilous arrangements of Scarlatti, Donald Macleod presents excerpts from Shostakovich's first opera, "The Nose", a surreal tale of nasal amputation and Kafkaesque bureaucracy.
The programme finishes with a masterpiece not by Shostakovich, but by his contemporary Alexander Mosolov - a man who would later be the only major composer to be sent to the gulag. Mosolov's Piano Concerto no.1 is like no other in classical music - a bewildering procession of melodies and influences that mirrors the chaotic artistic melting-pot of 1920s Soviet Russia.
COTW03Alexander Mosolov20110202Donald Macleod presents an excerpt from Shostakovich's surreal debut opera, The Nose.
COTW03Alexander Mosolov20110202
COTW04Alexei Zhivotov20110203Donald Macleod presents Shostakovich's Third Symphony and Alexei Zhivotov's Fragments.
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
Donald Macleod begins Thursday's programme with another dazzlingly witty arrangement - this time of a Broadway hit! - before introducing another 'black sheep' of the Shostakovich symphony family: his little-performed Third Symphony, complete with finale in praise of the Soviet revolutionary.
His guest composer today is Alexei Zhivotov - a composer who barely registers in musical history - yet whose Fragments, Op.2, is one of the most original Russian chamber works of the 20th century.
COTW04Alexei Zhivotov20110203Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
Donald Macleod begins Thursday's programme with another dazzlingly witty arrangement - this time of a Broadway hit! - before introducing another 'black sheep' of the Shostakovich symphony family: his little-performed Third Symphony, complete with finale in praise of the Soviet revolutionary. His guest composer today is Alexei Zhivotov - a composer who barely registers in musical history - yet whose Fragments, Op.2, is one of the most original Russian chamber works of the 20th century.
COTW04Alexei Zhivotov20110203Donald Macleod presents Shostakovich's Third Symphony and Alexei Zhivotov's Fragments.
COTW04Alexei Zhivotov20110203
COTW05Gavriil Popov20110204Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
In the final episode of the week, Donald Macleod looks at how the musical freedoms of the 1920s were slowly and surely crushed by the totalitarian state...a time when Shostakovich, somewhat ironically, composed a new ballet entitled "The Golden Age"...as well as finishing off someone else's opera for them!
Donald's last 'guest composer' of the week is the long-forgotten contemporary of Shostakovich Gavri'il Popov, whose epic, kaleidoscopic First Symphony is perhaps the most original Russian work of the entire decade - and a lasting influence on later modernist composers like Schnittke.
COTW05Gavriil Popov20110204Donald Macleod presents Shostakovich's The Golden Age, plus Gavriil Popov's Symphony No 1.
COTW05Gavriil Popov20110204
COTW05 LASTGavriil Popov20110204Donald Macleod presents Shostakovich's The Golden Age, plus Gavriil Popov's Symphony No 1.
Donald Macleod explores Shostakovich's brilliant youth - and the work of five extraordinary lost musical souls - amidst the turmoil and extraordinary originality of 1920s Russia.
In the final episode of the week, Donald Macleod looks at how the musical freedoms of the 1920s were slowly and surely crushed by the totalitarian state...a time when Shostakovich, somewhat ironically, composed a new ballet entitled "The Golden Age"...as well as finishing off someone else's opera for them!
Donald's last 'guest composer' of the week is the long-forgotten contemporary of Shostakovich Gavri'il Popov, whose epic, kaleidoscopic First Symphony is perhaps the most original Russian work of the entire decade - and a lasting influence on later modernist composers like Schnittke.

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  • p02dzcg2 / Discussion and Talk / Arts / Culture and the Media / Factual / Classical / Music