Shostakovich's 5th Symphony

Isaac McDermott
Mind Map by Isaac McDermott, updated more than 1 year ago
Isaac McDermott
Created by Isaac McDermott almost 4 years ago



Resource summary

Shostakovich's 5th Symphony
1 Background information
1.1 Referred to as the voice of Soviet Russia
1.1.1 Lived under the oppression of communism (Joseph Stalin) He managed to avoid confrontation with that regime
1.2 Artistic suppression
1.2.1 Anything seen critical of the regime would lead to imprisonment in a gulag or assassination
1.3 In 1931 he starts work on Lady Macbeth (opera) and this became under scrutiny from Stalin
1.3.1 In the PRAVDA newspaper an article appeared ordered by Stalin and the opera was banned He then lived in fear but decided in 1937 to write Symphony 5, knowing his reputation and possibly his life depended on its reception
1.4 The premier took place on 21st November 1937
1.4.1 People cried during the 3rd movement which was illegal and also at the end it received a half an hour applause
2 Instrumentation
2.1 Woodwind
2.1.1 piccolo
2.1.2 2 flutes
2.1.3 2 oboes
2.1.4 2 clarinets in A & Bb
2.1.5 clarinet in Eb
2.1.6 2 bassoons
2.1.7 Contrabassoon
2.2 Brass
2.2.1 4 horns
2.2.2 3 trumpets
2.2.3 2 trombones
2.2.4 bass trombone
2.2.5 tuba
2.3 Strings
2.3.1 2 harps
2.3.2 violins
2.3.3 violas
2.3.4 cellos
2.3.5 double bass
2.4 Percussion
2.4.1 piano
2.4.2 celeste
2.4.3 timpani
2.4.4 snare drum
2.4.5 bass drum
2.4.6 cymbals
2.4.7 xylophone
2.4.8 glockenspiel
2.4.9 triangle
3 1st Movement
3.1 18 minutes long - twisted and tormented
3.1.1 Sonata form principle however the tonality is not standard Exposition 1st subject - D Minor 2nd subject - Eb Minor Eb minor creates a dark effect which hints at the phrygian mode Developmental - main material is explored and developed 4 main motifs introduced Recapitulation 1st subject - D Minor 2nd subject - D Major Development Disproportionally long reflecting the turmoil and struggle
3.1.2 Sparse and angry themes - canonic and angular
3.2 Use of aeolian and phrygian mode
4 2nd movement
4.1 Scherzo (A minor, phrygian modal character) & Trio (C major)
4.1.1 Links to Minuet & Trio - traditionally comical mood
4.2 Weighty sounds
4.2.1 Brighter sounds such as the celeste and piano are removed
4.3 Opens with a solitary but heavy bass line, repressing heavy-footed peasants
4.4 5 woodwinds
4.4.1 Eb clarinet - shrill and loud
4.5 'oom pah pah' waltz pattern (bars 45-64) and playful use of hemiola/cross-rhythm, staccato and dotted rhythms
4.6 Trio section sounds like a music-box
4.6.1 Cheeky and playful with upward leaps (3rd to a 10th) and glissandos - drunk folk fiddler
4.7 Alterations to the Scherzo repeat - not a standard da capo
4.8 Fanfare appears in distant key (F# minor) - bar 144 onwards
4.9 Use of a tritone - representing evil, Stalin's Soviet state
5 3rd movement
5.1 Aura of grief in this slow movement
5.1.1 F# minor
5.1.2 Written in response to his friend being executed - Tukhachevsky
5.1.3 People cried during it
5.2 It has quotes of Russian Orthodox hymn harmonies
5.3 No brass as the sound is not appropriate
5.3.1 Instead the strings where divided into 8 sections Creating a rich expressive texture
5.4 The winds are used as lonely solo voices
5.4.1 This represents the missing souls of loved ones
5.5 The percussion add touches of colour
5.5.1 This is through the celeste, xylophone and glockenspiel
5.6 Light harp, oscillating between two chords
5.7 Tension is created through a rising chromatic line (bars 45-61)
5.8 Ethereal wind solos supported by fragile tremolo
5.9 Intensity increases at bars 103-120
5.9.1 This is from dynamics, dissonance and accenting weaker beats
5.10 Harp harmonics and celeste give an ice like effect
5.10.1 Beautiful and pure, yet cold and desolate
5.11 Final string chord rests on a Tierce de Picardie
5.11.1 Rare moment of real repose in this symphony
6 4th movement
6.1 Ambiguous meaning
6.1.1 Triumphant hymn
6.1.2 Defiant solidarity
6.1.3 Struggles of an artistic genius?
6.2 Film music structure
6.2.1 Tells a story with three main sections (sonata form)
6.3 Quotes from 'Rebirth'
6.4 Winds trill to create alarm feel
6.4.1 Then immediately into a march
6.5 Use of tritone
6.6 Repeated As
6.7 Huge use of percussion
6.8 Octatonic scale -figure 99
6.9 Driving rhythms
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