Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Lady MacBeth

Music History Monday: A Very Dangerous Opera

84 years ago today – on January 22, 1934 – Dmitri Shostakovich’s second opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, received its premiere in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and opened two days later in Moscow. Lady Macbeth was, from day one, a smash hit. It was declared a masterpiece, the best Russian opera since Musorgsky; one reviewer said that such an opera: “Could have been written only by a Soviet composer brought up in the best traditions of Soviet culture.” With the premiere of Lady Macbeth, the 28 year-old Shostakovich’s international reputation as the leading Soviet composer was locked in. By 1936, it had been performed 83 times in Leningrad and 97(!) times in Moscow; within five months of its premiere it had been broadcast five times. In the two years following it’s premiere Lady Macbeth was performed in New York, Stockholm, London, Zurich, Copenhagen, Argentina and Czechoslovakia. Inside the Soviet Union, Shostakovich became a celebrity: his artistic plans and progress, his comings and goings, were tracked by the press; his ideas on topics both musical and nonmusical were solicited, and he was elected a deputy of Leningrad’s October District. And then on January 26, 1936, the sky fell. Joseph Stalin, […]

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