Series about classical music. Accompanied by striking visuals, poet Lemn Sissay explores Dmitri Shostakovich's 10th Symphony.
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Most of us can listen to and create whatever music we like.
We've got that freedom.
WHISPERS: Not everyone is so lucky.
MUSIC: Symphony No 10 In E Minor by Dmitri Shostakovich
Joseph Stalin, dictator, the Soviet Union.
From the 1930s, for over two decades,
the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich
lived in fear of this man.
Stalin decided what music his people should listen to.
Everyone was watched.
Any composer who didn't conform
risked joining the millions of other people
that Stalin had thrown into prison or unmarked graves.
"If they cut off both my hands,
"I will compose with the pen
"between my teeth."
That was Shostakovich's answer.
And so he kept on composing,
and when his music was praised, he was a national hero.
When it offended Stalin's regime,
he slept with his bags packed,
waiting for the secret police to knock at his door.
In 1953, Stalin died,
and Shostakovich was able to finish this piece -
his 10th Symphony.
And, to me, it feels as if the music and emotion
that had been hidden away in his head
suddenly came flooding out.
Some people think this is actually an orchestral portrait
of Stalin himself,
but, whatever it is,
it sounds full of panic and terror and anger.
What can you hear? Is it the knock at the door in the dead of night?
Knives sharpening? Bursts of gunfire?
Hearts racing faster?
The Stalin's death didn't bring complete musical freedom
but it was a moment in his life where he could say
what he wanted, out loud, in music.
Accompanied by striking visuals, poet Lemn Sissay explores Dmitri Shostakovich's thrilling 10th Symphony. Written under Soviet dictator Stalin's rule of terror, the piece is performed by the BBC Philharmonic with young conductor Alpesh Chauhan.