Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Opus 93

After Shostakovitch had been accused, as early as 1936, of writing "chaos instead of music” in reaction to his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtzensk, he received a second warning from the political apparatchiks in 1948, claiming that "in the eyes of the people” his Eighth Symphony was not "a musical work but rather a composition that has nothing whatsoever to do with music.” Until 1953, the year of Stalin’s death, Shostakovitch wrote only politically unchallengeable works. Not until his Tenth Symphony, first performed in December 1953 in Leningrad, did Shostakovitch, as first composer of the Soviet Union, dare to resist the demands of 1948 and write a work that attests to a liberation of the human spirit and an artist’s right to independence. Shostakovitch saw the symphony as a "contribution to peace in the world” – the composers’ society, however, in a three-day debate, criticized the dark basic mood of the first three movements and the "artificial merriment” of the finale. In the form of his Tenth Symphony, Shostakovitch went back to the classical four-movement structure, as particularly evidenced in the sonata form concept of the first and last movements. In the second movement, a diabolical scherzo, he allegedly draws a portrait of "the terrifying face of Stalin”. Shostakovitch also reveals his new artistic self-confidence encoded in the notes of the theme: the frequently recurring motive of D - E-flat (Es in German notation) – C – B natural (H in German notation) in the third and fourth movements represent the German transliteration of the first letters of the composer’s name.