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"Shostakovich 5: Notes for Stalin"

"Shostakovich 5: Notes for Stalin"
(Courtesy of the BSO)

Dmitri Shostakovich's opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District" was immensely successful in the U.S.S.R. after it was published in 1934—until Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin saw the performance in January 1936. Two days later, under Stalin's orders, the Russian newspaper Pravda published a scathing condemnation of the work, causing Shostakovich to fall out of favor. Shostakovich lived in fear—he would sleep in the stairwell outside his apartment, so that, were he arrested, his family wouldn't have to see. In November 1937, he decided to premiere his Fifth Symphony, hoping that its lyrical, heroic tone and focus on Russian literature would curry favor with the Soviet leadership. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's "Shostakovich 5: Notes for Stalin" dives into this tumultuous period in Shostakovich's life. The first portion of the concert will feature a symphonic play by Didi Balle, the BSO's playwright in residence, that combines live classical music with semi-staged theater to dramatize Shostakovich's experiences; the second half of the concert will feature a full performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. 7 p.m., Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8100, bsomusic.org, $35-95.

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