Analysis of Dmitri Shostakovich's first cello concerto Essay

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"To me he seemed like a trapped man, whose only wish was to be left alone, to the peace of his own art and to the tragic destiny to which he, like most of his countrymen, has been forced to resign himself."  Nicholas Nabokov on meeting Shostakovich in 1949 in New York

During the hard and cruel era of Stalinism, Shostakovich had the courage to express the desolation of his people by method of remarkable dramatic feeling; hence, his music became a moral support for all who were persecuted. Sofia Gubaidulina reflected, "The circumstances he lived under were unbearably cruel, more than anyone should have to endure." With Stravinsky and Prokofiev, Shostakovich embodies the culmination of 20th Century Russian music, but unlike his
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He said, "I took a simple little theme and tried to develop it." This four-note motif, derived from the Germanic transliteration of his name and converted from Germanic classification to D Eflat C B, also appears in the Eighth String Quartet and Tenth Symphony. A contemptuous jibe at Stalin occurs in the fourth movement during which Shostakovich distorts the folk melody "Suliko," which was notorious as Stalin's favourite tune.

    The first movement, structured in quasi sonata form, and described by Shostakovich as "an ironic march" opens with the cello stating the main four-note theme. This is antiphonally followed by a "tate ta, tate ta" rhythm from the orchestra. This is repeated, then the cello plays a sequence accompanied by staccato notes in the orchestra. This first theme is repeated with a few slight variations and accompanied by ascending glissandos in the woodwind. The cello melody then develops, using octave leaps, more sequences and repetition, then in a reversal of roles, the cello uses double-stopping and ascending scales to accompany the orchestra which plays the main four-note motif. The second theme is introduced, emphasised by two bangs of the timpani. The time signature alternates between 4/4 and 3/2.The cello plays the melody, accompanied by the orchestra, which plays syncopated. The melody is repeated by the clarinet. The first theme returns again, with the French horn

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