For May 2018, some of us contributing to #ClassicsaDay decided to mark May Day. Reason enough to post works by Soviet composers. I decided to go a little farther with my #SovietaDay posts and concentrate on Soviet prize winners.

Here are the posts I shared for week 4.

Boris Lyatoshinsky (1895-1968) – Piano Quintet “Ukrainian Quintet” Op. 42

Lyatoshinsky, inspired by Scriabin, continually pushed the boundaries of tonality. His early works were sometimes accused of “formalism.” In the 1920s he began incorporating folk elements of his native Ukraine into his work. His Piano Quintet Op. 42, the “Ukrainian Quintet” is the best example of this folk-inspired style. It won the Stalin Prize in 1946.

 

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) – Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 “Leningrad”

Shostakovich started work on his seventh symphony in 1939. He was working on the second movement when he was trapped in the Siege of Leningrad. During the war, the symphony was considered a symbol of resistance. Though around 80 minutes long, it was frequently performed in the West as a sign of support. Interest in the symphony declined after the war. Symphony No. 7 was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1942.

 

Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012) – Cantata about the Motherland

Artuiunian’s best-known work is his 1950 Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major. In the Soviet Union, this Armenian composer was known for his concert works as well as his film scores. His Cantata about the Motherland won the Stalin Prize in 1948.

 

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) – On Guard for Peace, Op. 124

The cantata “On Guard for Peace” marked Prokofiev’s return to political acceptance after the 1948 Zhdanov Decree. Although some of his works remained proscribed, new compositions were deemed safe to perform. The cantata won the Stalin Prize (second class) in 1951.