The series Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphonies continues with Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65. Written within a very short period (approximately two months in the summer of 1943), the work was premiered for the first time in the same year, on November 4th, with the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky. According to Isaac Glickman, who was a close friend of the composer, it is “the most tragic work”. Shostakovich himself defines it as an “optimistic, life-asserting work”, in spite of the many internal conflicts – both tragic and dramatic…” But for many others, the symphony is not optimistic enough to serve as propaganda, and pursuant to a decree issued by Zhdanov in 1948 it was actually banned for eight years. Its return to the stage was in 1956 – it was performed by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Samuil Samosud.
The hard fate of the symphony actually reflects the difficult destiny of the author. Nevertheless, the words of the famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova describe accurately his importance in the world’s musical life: “Shostakovich is a genius and naturally our age will be known as the age of Shostakovich.”