Dmitri Shostakovich:
Symphony No. 5

Hidden beneath the surface of his life-saving Symphony No. 5, Shostakovich may have left a subversive cipher. Publically called to task by the brutal forces of Stalin, the Soviet Union’s golden boy composer was literally writing for his life. This episode of Keeping Score investigates the arresting symphony that would either redeem Shostakovich or condemn him to the Gulag. Did he dare hide a kernel of musical criticism in his paean to the Motherland? Join Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony as they explore the enigma of this masterwork. What Shostakovich has to say might depend on what you’re brave enough to hear.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 10pm


Carolyn (not verified)
October 30, 2009
This was simply a wonderfully, well done show. Having produced Classical Music profiles in different media formats, and even attended a rehearsal and taping of Leonard Bernstein's TV programs, I think the material, narration, editing, gathered film, the handling of the multi-level themes,the music,itself,and the approach of the analysis the organization of material and the interviews with orchestra members all worked to produce a compelling show for many demographic levels.One was left wanting more, actually. The 5th happens to be one of my favorite works in the literature. I wish, however, a bit more in the musical analysis that described the chordal structure, and usage of chords along with the themes, were delineated.Possibly, the third movement's passage of the crescendo and climax could have been presented in toto in the way of exemplifying the deep yearning of the Russian heart it conveys, to my mind. It also can be said to express a romantic realm, an almost unbearable romantic crescendo of ecstacy, or the realization of coming to a climax.It's theme of oppression and tyranny under Stalin is so very apropos for these days. I did cry. The discussion with the Russian players begged for more, because it is so very interesting to hear their viewpoint and what they suffered as artists.I have interviewed many who defected from the Soviet Union, and each is person had an interesting story and were most articulate. I would ,also, liked to have learned what happened to his sister, and his parents, unless it was too much off-track.His apartment was amazing for the Soviet Union, and he never, apparently, lost it. I don't remember when Mr. Thomas played for him, which was, certainly, terribly brave, but if it was during Stalin's time,he could have been worried about being killed upon returning.That was what Stalin did after cultural ambassadors returned. I ,also, want to say what an engaging person the Maestro is on camera.How he has improved and mellowed. He hit the right tone, not arrogant, or esoteric(G-d forbid), but he spoke to the camera conveying a desire to share and to tell a story. All the pieces went to create the whole.It was very interesting to hear Shostakovich didn't use any expression markings. Very. That enhances one's admiration for his ability as a composer. Congratulations.I think, everyone in the country should see this.There was no promotion on the Detroit WTVS station, basically until two days ago, about the series. Wonderful! Thank you for doing this program and the series. I cannot wait to see the next one.
Janet Lynch (not verified)
November 1, 2009
A friend saw the Shostakovich show and called the day after to tell me about it - she doesn't remember what station it aired on ......... Will it be repeated? what stations are are airing it? I live in Madisonville, LA and have access to Charter Cable. Please advise.
November 12, 2009
Dear Janet, the episodes may be repeated but it depends on the individual PBS stations. If you have a good internet connection you can also view the episodes online at, or you can download them to your computer on iTunes (search for Keeping Score). I hope you are able to see and enjoy the shows! Best regards, Edie Cheng (Electronic Media Manager)
November 12, 2009
Dear Carolyn, thank you for your comments. We are so thrilled that these shows are reaching people everywhere. Edie Cheng (Electronic Media Manager)
Anonymous (not verified)
December 31, 2009
This is such a perfect representation of what Shostakovich was trying to say. About how we are forced to act happy even though we are not and how it is not how it appears to be on the outside.
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