Dmitry Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony: the Meanings in the Contexts

Keywords: Dmitri Shostakovich, Fifth Symphony, music and history, the context of the creation of a musical work, figurative dramaturgy


The article is devoted to one of the most significant symphonic oeuvres by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich – the Fifth Symphony, in which the composer’s personal perception of the tragic historical vicissitudes taking place in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. An overview is made of a broad context of events which made an impact on the work’s figurative semantics in which, as some researchers indicate, there is a certain compromise made with the government in the context of the realities surrounding him. Special attention in the article is given to the various interpretations of the finale of the Fifth Symphony which aroused a number of contradictory opinions in the academic world. The utterances of scholars from various spheres of activities, as well as Shostakovich’s friends and colleagues are adduced regarding the symphony’s figurative content, its special status in both the composer’s own heritage and the evolution of the symphonic genre in total. The historical method applied in the article makes it possible to focus attention on the aspects of the conception and the creation of the work, its contexts, the peculiarities of the tragic imagery, and the particular structure and content of the work. The scholarly novelty of the research work is also present in the use of literary utterances of the composer himself, which made it possible to express in the most concise way the context of the presence of the Fifth Symphony in the world of Shostakovich’s images.

The Art of Music