In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Dmitry Shostakovich

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Catalogues, Bibliographies, and Discographies
  • Biographies and Reminiscences
  • Life and Works
  • Collections of Essays
  • Reception Studies
  • Testimony and Related Literature
  • Analytical and Theoretical Works
  • Manuscript Studies
  • Iconography
  • Letters
  • Recorded Materials
  • Films about Shostakovich
  • Shostakovich and His Students
  • Chamber Music and Concertos
  • Film and Incidental Music
  • Opera and Operetta
  • Orchestral Music
  • Songs
  • Context
  • Collected Works
  • Shostakovich Societies and Archives

Music Dmitry Shostakovich
Pauline Fairclough
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 June 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0018


Shostakovich’s music and life have been more tightly interconnected in the public imagination than that of almost any other composer, and not without reason. Because of the constraints of the Soviet system, commentators in both East and West have often assumed his music must “mean” something with political implications: it has rarely been accepted on any other terms. In the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, there was a move—both in Russia but more markedly in the West—to consolidate claims that Shostakovich was a “dissident” as an attempt to create distance between an established “great composer” and the dishonored political system that supported him. This debate, like those over the original source of this idea— Shostakovich’s purported memoir Testimony—has eased in recent years, as new research about Shostakovich and his music has assumed much greater significance than guesswork and speculation. Factual information about his life and career continues to be uncovered, while the precious memories of those who knew him have been meticulously preserved, a process that is ongoing. The following entries represent a wide spectrum of writings, films, websites, and broadcast media and aim to guide the reader to the most important and representative sources in each topic.

Reference Works

The standard English-language resource Fanning and Fay 2001, while the standard German-language resource is Gojowy 2006. Each takes a different approach: Gojowy 2006 is a chronological career survey with an appended works list and extremely selective bibliography; Fanning and Fay 2001 is far more detailed in its discussion of the music, with each chronological entry divided into “Life” and “Works,” and its bibliography is extremely detailed up to 2001 (unfortunately, it is not kept updated in the online version).

  • Fanning, David, and Laurel Fay. “Shostakovich.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2d ed. Vol. 23. Edited by Stanley Sadie, 279–311. London: Macmillan, 2001.

    The definitive encylopedia entry on Shostakovich, unmatched for accuracy and detail at the time of its publication. Text and bibliography are the same as that found in the online version.

  • Fanning, David, and Laurel Fay. “Shostakovich, Dmitry (Dmitriyevich).” Grove Music Online.

    A detailed and reliable survey of both life and works, with a superbly detailed bibliography by Laurel Fay, which is meticulous in its inclusion of Russian and Soviet-period sources. Still a good resource, despite being out of date.

  • Gojowy, Detlef. “Šostakovič.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allegemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik begründet von Friedrich Blume. 2d ed. Vol. 15. Edited by Ludwig Finscher, 1090–1116. Kassel, Germany, and London: Bärenreiter, 2006.

    A more basic career summary, with a useful works list that includes new editions from the New Collected Works. The bibliography is superb for German-language resources up to 2005, but is less thorough with English and Russian-language works and is generally far more selective in this area than Grove.

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