Was it [the corpus of Shostakovich’s fifteen symphonies], then, written by the embittered secret dissident introduced to the world in 1979 via Solomon Folkov’ Testimony? It was.
Is the new Shostakovich the real Shostakovich?
—Ian MacDonald, The New Shostakovich
The lives of few composers in the twentieth century can have contained quite so much of the terror of the times as did the life of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). Born in the old Russia of parents belonging to the middle-class intelligentsia, Shostakovich, not yet in his twenties, found himself the shining hope of Bolshevik music; by the beginning of the 1930s, he was well on his way to being the Soviet composer-laureate. In 1936, he was brought to his knees by a vicious official attack, emanating, it seems, directly from the mighty Stalin himself.