Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, January 21-22

Concert part of the BSO's conversational Off the Cuff series

Music director Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony to be performed on Friday, January 21 at 8:15 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore and Saturday, January 22 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall as part of the BSO's Off the Cuff series. Alsop walks the audience through a time of political unrest in 1930's Russia that ultimately influenced Dmitri Shostakovich's epic Symphony No. 5. In this program, the Fifth symphony, allegedly subtitled, "the creative reply of a Soviet artist to justified criticism," vividly portrays Shostakovich's triumph over adversity. The BSO's Off the Cuff series offers a fresh take on classical music by exploring the lives of the composers, making the performances fun and engaging for music enthusiasts of any level. Please see below for complete program details.

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his fifth symphony at a time when he feared for his life. For the majority of his career, Shostakovich worked to balance his brilliant artistic ability and the regulatory dimensions imposed on him by the reign of Joseph Stalin. Millions of Soviet citizens, including many Soviet artists, lost their lives between 1934 and 1938 in a time known as the Stalinist purges. After the vehement disapproval Stalin conveyed for Shostakovich's 1934 daring new opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Shostakovich was convinced that he was doomed the Soviet fate. In place of death however, the composer existed as an outcast in society until 1937 when he was given the opportunity to redeem himself. Shostakovich wrote a piece unlike any of his previously composed, a suitably exultant symphony for Leningrad's celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The new work is consonant and tonal, and more melodic and pleasing in its instrumental sonorities than many of his previous works. Symphony No. 5 vibrantly expresses fierce drama in the first movement, followed by biting sarcasm in its second, an emotionally wrenching sorrow in its third and a complex "triumph" in its finale.

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