Movements: 3
Key: C minor
Duration: ca.55-60 min.
Year Written: 1935-6
Opus: 43


Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony was written at the end of a time of relatively little political intervention in the arts. He had been allowed to continue without persecution (save the scathing 'Muddle instead of Music' editorial about his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District) for several years, even through the scandalous 1930 production of The Nose. Unfortunately, with the Great Terror nearing, this more relaxed atmosphere could not last. After completing the symphony, Shostakovich arranged to have it premiered in December 1936, but after a few rehearsals, pressure from Stalin's henchmen caused the work to be withdrawn. Because the withdrawal came from Shostakovich himself (under coercion of course), there was for many years a false impression that he withdrew it because he was dissatisfied with it; this is incorrect. The work would not see a performance until 1961, 25 years after its completion. During those two and a half decades, Shostakovich did not alter a single note of the original.