chapter  1
16 Pages

Through the Looking Glass:Reflections on the Significance of Words and Symbols in Shostakovich’s Music

ByElizabeth Wilson

The four-hand genre attracted Dmitrii Shostakovich first of all as an instrumental force per se: that is, as an ensemble for which to compose music. Both European and Russian publishers in the nineteenth century encouraged the practice of four-hand piano playing among young musicians, fostering the habit, so to speak, from the cradle'. In Shostakovich's professional life the functions of playing the piano four hands had changed and multiplied. Entering the Petrograd Conservatoire in 1919 at the age of thirteen, Shostakovich started to attend the composers' circle that convened twice a month on Mondays in the apartment of Anna Ivanovna Fogt. A dramatic example of the presentation of Shostakovich's new compositions is provided by the first performances of his Symphony No. 4 in its version for two pianos. A rare exception is the recording of Symphony No. 10, which was played on 23 and 24 November 1953 by Shostakovich and Moisei Weinberg in the composer's arrangement.