Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77 between 1947 and 1948, but it was only premiered in 1955 by the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yevgeny Mravinsky. This concerto was written during the period when the URSS had adopted zhdanovism, the doctrine that marked the most restricted and demanding phase of “socialist realism.” This meant censorship for any work of art that did not respect the party’s propaganda. The Violin Concerto No. 1 was therefore reworked many times with the assistance of David Oistrakh, violinist and dedicatee of the piece. Talking about the Violin Concerto No. 1, Oistrakh remarked on the “depth of its artistic content.”
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Lasting around 35 minutes, the four movements of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 pay tribute to the composers of the past. The Nocturne recalls the first movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, the Passacaglia quotes the theme of Beethoven’s “Destiny” Symphony, while the Burlesque takes inspiration from the flute tune in Stavinsky’s Petrushka. The final Scherzo movement is also called “demonic dance” since, according to the words of David Oistrakh, it contains “something evil, demonic and thorny.” Shostakovich also mimicked Bach and his famous BACH theme by creating his own DSCH theme, engraving the name of Dimitri Shostakovich into the core fabric of his composition. Come and discover Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, whenever you want, wherever you want!