First movement starts off with 4 notes, which are then repeated but in different octaves. The communist (though really totalitarian beginning with Stalin) government in Russia thrived from instilling fear in its citizens. Some of the notes are discordant. The ending seems slower than the rest of the string quartet, but what does it mean? The fourth (m. 105, beat 3 — end) and final section returns to the structure of the first and reprises a lot of the material that was previously played. Relate back to historical context of the time and the composer The arrangement of the quartet for string orchestra that is performed at this week's concerts was made by the Russian conductor and violist Rudolf Barhsai and approved by Shostakovich. The second movement does not end conclusively, and continues right to the 3rd movement. Cello leads again, and finishes this movement with slow moving notes. 8 by Dmitry Shostakovich (1906 -75) was composed in July 1960 (in just three days). 8, is in C Minor, which is an important distinction from a major key, which would sound happier than a minor key. //--> It still seems autobiographical because of the DSCH motif in the first movement. But it is disturbed by 3 loud noises in the 4th movement; maybe knocks on the door. Then the cello carries the main melody line. Astonishingly, this quartet only took Shostakovich three days … The second movement does not end conclusively, and continues right to the 3rd movement. Maybe Shostakovich is trying to show the dreariness and pattern like quality of communist life. This piece, String Quartet No. In either event, it was no secret that Shostakovich, unlike the Soviet government, was very friendly to Jewish people (openly had Jewish friends), and had no antisemitic inclinations. In addition, the use of the long short-short motif which has been utilized numerous times as Shostakovich’s go-to way to create motion suggests some state of reflection. It seems like the softer sounds are winning over the larger ones. The 5th movement is still ambiguous, and I’m not sure what it means. This also verifies my interpretation of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th movements, which are clearly dedicated to victims of fascism and war, whether they be casualties of World War II, or casualties of Nazi or Soviet systematic execution – Jews and the Russian people. The Fitzwilliam String Quartet doing the Shostakovich String Quartets were my first set of all DSCH's string quartets. Some more context surrounding the composition of the 8th string quartet: Shostakovich composed it not long after joining the communist party. Both have a fugal nature, yet I am not entirely sure yet WHY this is so. More romantic melody line heard now; sounds almost melancholy, and fearful. Shostakovich may be addressing either the Soviet Union’s treatment of Jewry or the horrible fate of Jews during the holocaust. 65, by Dmitri Shostakovich was written in the summer of 1943, and first performed on November 4 of that year by the USSR Symphony Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky, to whom the work is dedicated. 8 demonstrates how Shostakovich utilized the string quartet as … Journal of Shostakovich 8th string quartet analyses Now the fear inherent in this piece may be the fear Shostakovich has to live with daily in the wake of an oppressive Soviet government. Chromatic high notes that are ascending then immediately descending in the violins. Each contains a plethora of counterpoint and sound very similar to Bach’s type of fugue. From the beginning of the second movement, one violin seems to have the main part in this new fast paced music. 8 in c minor, Op. The ending of the first movement is a decrescendo followed by a very rapid crescendo that leads right into the second movement. google_color_bg = "FFFFFF"; Some more context surrounding the composition of the 8th string quartet: Shostakovich composed it not long after joining the communist party. Composed in 1960, the year of his invocation into the communist party, String Quartet No. The first movement is very dissimilar to the second movement, which has a ferocity and tenseness that is impossible to ignore. Though his life was marred by tragedy, music was frequently Shostakovich’s savior. This piece, String Quartet No. It is much more likely that Shostakovich purposefully included this to show the fear and apprehensiveness of KGB agents showing up unannounced at odd hours of the night. 6th entry Other instruments then quickly join in cannon playing their own versions of the motif until the third beat of measure 12 where the first violin, second violin, and cello play it in unison surrounding a G drone played in the viola (figure 3). Shostakovich was never a fan of the government that constantly instilled fear not only in himself, but also in the entire Russian population. google_ad_format = "468x60_as"; google_ad_height = 60; Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7th entry “Shostakovich and ALS.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20375524. If so, then the somewhat romantic melody in between is somewhat like Chopin’s funeral march. Shostakovich String Quartet №8 could be described as hopeless. Suddenly the performers become vivacious, but it seems like the tempos between the quartet members are out of sync at the start of the 2nd movement. He suffered numerous tragedies throughout his life: the death of his first wife in 1954, the death of his mother in 1955, and a divorce from his second wife in 1959. Though his 8th string quartet was officially titled “In Memory of the Victims of Fascism and War,” the somber composition is recognizably autobiographical (Rabinowitz). Alex Ross on Music, Culture, and Criticism (Ep. The vibrato seems artificial, and not in the right style that Shostakovich would have wanted. The 5th movement seems almost a continuation of the 1st movement, especially since the tempo of both is Largo. Again I’m unsure what purpose the waltz-like nature of the 3rd movement serves. In the Borodin recording it has a sardonic flavor, but in this video the ironic tone is indiscernible and lost. Also I noticed that the Jewish melody line is almost exactly the same as that of Shostakovich’s own Piano trio Op.67 (4th movement). Bon Jovi’s ‘These Days’: What Happens When America’s Party Band Gets Introspective? 2nd entry 8 in c minor comprises a mere twenty minutes of non-stop music, written in three days in 1960 as a distraction from a project to write a film score about the Dresden fire bombings of WWII. For the final entry, I decided to listen to a different interpretation of the quartet. Finally, the metaphor for moving from freedom to restraint in how each section is structure I think clearly expresses that the quartet was meant to be autobiographical. One thing I especially liked in the Borodin recording was the morendo occurring at the end of the 5th movement. 8, is in C Minor, which is an important distinction from a major key, which would sound happier than a minor key. When the cello carries the main theme, it seems less tense, yet the violins come back shortly with an even more fearful variation on the main theme of this movement. The music in between the knocks shows the “victim’s” hesitation in opening the door, but since the knocks continue, there is little choice. These three ideas make up the main components used to compose the piece, but also large sections of Shostakovich’s career. The Eighth Quartet has probably been performed more often than all the rest put together (certainly in the West), and it does indeed provide an ideal introduction to Shostakovich’s music through the medium of the string quartet. In the paragraphs that follow, I will frequently refer to Arthur J. Komar 's theories of meter found in his book A Study of Metrical and Pitch Relations in TonalMusic. If so, then the somewhat romantic melody in between is somewhat like Chopin’s funeral march. The ending seems slower than the rest of the string quartet, but what does it mean? Cello leads again, and finishes this movement with slow moving notes. The 5th movement seems almost a continuation of the 1st movement, especially since the tempo of both is Largo. After today’s discussion, I learned that the 4 note motif that is repeated at the very start is d, e flat, c, b, which when translated to German music notation yields D, Es, C, H, Dmitri Shostakovich’s initials: D. Sch. In the first movement, there are places where the melody becomes “romantic-like”, where the fear subsides, but it does not last long, and the sad and melancholy melody returns to haunt Shostakovich. /* 468x60, created 3/21/08 */ The 5th movement is still ambiguous, and I’m not sure what it means. QUARTET NO. The 8th string quarter may have been another time where this was the case. 10, Violin Concerto No. Bach mainly composed Church music, so the impression is that the setting is now a Church. google_ad_client = "pub-1174467220610867"; This autobiographical aspect will be the focus of this analysis in addition to the three main ideas that make up the movement: (1) the importance of the interval of a 5th throughout the piece, (2) the DSCH motif, and (3) the pattern of one long note followed by two repeated short notes. Ultimately, I liked the recording of the Borodin String Quartet, because I think the piece was played in exactly the manner that Shostakovich intended it to be played. Maybe Shostakovich is trying to show the dreariness and pattern like quality of communist life. 10th entry This is well reflected in the second movement, which certainly sounds like a violent war erupting. So much of the first movement already presents repetition: variations on the same central theme. 8in C minor, opus 110, the most loved of all Shostakovich's quartets, has a duration of about twenty minutes. Moreover the violins create very violent sounds, almost like a massacre. There, amid the rubble still visible from the Allied bombings during World War II, he was inspired to composed this quartet in remembrance of the victims of both Hitler and Stalin. Melody heard previously reappears, and builds in a crescendo with all instruments playing. Fifths are very import elements in this movement both for the open quality of the harmony but also in some of the melodic elements. 110, 1960. But now it’s back to the 3 loud notes from the start of the 4th movement. In a letter, Shostakovich sarcastically dismissed it as an "ideological piece of no … The vibrato certainly adds to this effect. Sounds organ-like, as in a funeral. The pace of the waltz in the 3rd movement is too rushed. Thus there is little doubt remaining that Shostakovich considers himself a victim of fascism. Here is a full analysis of SHOSTAKOVITCH – String Quartet No. The knocking then, in the 4th movement cannot be applied to the general Russian populace, but to Shostakovich in particular since he had adverse relations with the Soviet government. This is not the first time Shostakovich has used this idea to create motion against a more static line. The music then progresses to a devilish sound, like something straight out of Hell. In the first movement, the vibrato in cello creates a sense of fear and uncertainty. google_color_link = "000000"; google_ad_width = 468; Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975 String Quartet No. Fortunately, his 5th symphony was performed instead a few months later and was well received by audiences and Stalin (McPherson). As a result of this intense campaign against Shostakovich, his 4th symphony was not performed for 25 years — after Stalin’s death. It doesn’t seem to be a reference to the German concentration camps, but instead a reference to the Soviet executions of political dissidents which numbered more than 3 million under Stalin alone. Moreover the violins create very violent sounds, almost like a massacre. The first performance was by the Beethoven Quartet in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) on 2 October 1960. 10 One-Man Bands Who Didn’t Need Anyone Else, Why Iggy Azalea’s Privilege To Be “Black” Needs To Be Permanently Revoked, How Steven Wilson Made Prog Rock Cool Again, Paris, France Was the Most Successful City for Hip-Hop in 2019. The sound is grim, and not very happy. Thus there is little doubt remaining that Shostakovich considers himself a victim of fascism. www.musicacademyonline.com/composer/biographies.php?bid=133. The idea first appears in measure 27 in the second violin, viola, and cello (figure 5). 1, Symphony No. Shostakovich's String Quartet No. I read some history on Shostakovich in order to better understand the 8th string quartet and the context in general. The 3rd movement is waltz-like since it has a distinct 3 beats per measure. Joining the Communist Party allowed him to resume teaching at the Leningrad Conservatory and freed some of his works from exile to be performed again, including the 4th symphony and Lady Macbeth. This four-note pattern of “D Eb C B” spells out the composer's initials in the German system — D. Sch. Like I wrote in a previous entry, this motif makes the piece personal, but some parts of the string quartet do not seem to be pertain to Dmitri Shostakovich alone. Chromatic scale in violins sounds creepy and eerie. Each contains a plethora of counterpoint and sound very similar to Bach’s type of fugue. Highly popular, it is performed more frequently than all of the other fourteen together. Some of the notes in the cello and violins are starting to sound out of tune. The 3rd movement is waltz-like since it has a distinct 3 beats per measure. 8 200. by David Fanning. In the 4th movement, the mood seems very tense and hesitant at the same time. “Shostakovich.” Music Academy Online, www.musicacademyonline.com/composer/biographies.php?bid=133. 8 was made by the second violinist of the Beethoven Quartet, the chamber ensemble that played the premiere performance of the piece. The next day after Stalin’s viewing, an editorial was published by Pravda entitled “Muddle Instead of Music” and describing the opera as “course, primitive, and vulgar” (Burton-Hill, 2015). He suffered from a broken leg and a later diagnosis revealed he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (Kalapatapu). This creates a sense of pulsing motion to contrast the static feeling created by the drone in the viola and cello. While the second violin moves to play the countermelody, it also primarily plays that same open G. When the second violin moves away from the G, the first violin melody lands on a G maintaining the open sound quality that the interval provides (figure 2). Performance time is approximately twenty-two minutes. 8 to be a virtual retrospective of his musical life, knitted together with the first-person pronoun that is his musical signature D-S-C-H (D-Eb-C-B), and composed at a time of suicidal despair. As previously stated, the piece does not appear to focus on organization based on harmonies, but the individual direction of each line. This put Shostakovich in a precarious position since, without Stalin’s approval, his next piece could be his last. Then solo, and repeat of 1st movement. The very high notes in the violins are followed by low notes from cello. Repetition is key here in the second movement as well. It is less likely that a firing squad is shooting 3 shots. The music then progresses to a devilish sound, like something straight out of Hell. I am unsure whether those reoccurring 3 sounds are someone knocking on the door, or guns representing more death by a firing squad? Sounds like an argument between many different sides, and very unclear who is “saying” what. After this pattern finishes in the 5th movement, the notes are heard directly from the first movement, BUT, they are at a much slower pace. The cadences are particularly odd because, while the harmonies are very free throughout the piece, each cadence forms a very traditional “i — iv — V — i” pattern in the home key of C minor. In the second movement for example, the melody sounds distinctly Jewish. Shostakovich's String Quartet No. Shostakovich does something interesting here, however. Perhaps the sad and disconcerting sound is purposeful in an attempt to “show” how life is under the Soviet government. Here the same 5 notes are repeated over and over again, with piano fingering: 43231. In this case, it is a whole note followed by two half notes that transitions between the first two sections of the piece. I am unsure whether those reoccurring 3 sounds are someone knocking on the door, or guns representing more death by a firing squad? In the Borodin recording it was easy to hear individual notes, but in this youtube video all the notes seem “slushed” together. The sudden crescendo into the second movement is alarming and almost unexpected. Shostakovich: String Quartet No. Shostakovich was consistently at odds with the Soviet government. 9th entry Stalin killed millions upon millions of people to quell his opposition. 30 Mar.