In 1935, Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich was introduced to the music of Gustav Mahler. On January 28, 1936, Pravda had published a tirade entitled Muddle Instead of Music, complaining that Shostakovich’s new opera was a “deliberately dissonant, muddled stream of sounds…(that) quacks, hoots, pants and gasps.” Fearing arrest he made moves to fall back in the Soviet’s good graces. But he also wrote a setting of Pushkin’s poem “Rebirth” in which a barbarian covers a masterpiece with black paint but that paint cracks and peels and the original is reborn. The Symphony No.5 returned the composer to good favor despite coded messages (like a quote from that Pushkin setting).
Orchestrating Diversity’s Urban Youth Orchestra will perform this expansive work along with the scherzo from Mahler’s 4th Symphony. You will see the influence in the scherzo of the Shostakovich symphony. And we hope to offer ways to defend our humanity in the face of oppression.