main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Music: Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich (1906-1975) was a Russian composer of classical music. His style is, on the one hand, well known for its exaggerated, tense emotions often bordering on the grotesque; and on the other hand, for its subtle irony and light wit. Not very surprising, considering that Shostakovich worked in an era when Soviet censors dictated what kind of art is acceptable. He had to learn to be discreet, and to hide clever musical hints beneath bombastic "clichéd" music.

His music provides many awesome moments. Most notably, his Symphony No. 5 moved his audience to tears because it evoked to them vivid images of their oppression under the Soviet dictatorship; and somehow, at the same time, the said dictatorship praised the symphony for being patriotic and pro-communist, the censors never picking up on Shostakovich's subtle musical subversions.


  • Dramatic Timpani: Symphony #5 went to town on this trope.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Plenty, though more politically subversive than sexually. For instance, it was probably not a coincidence that his String Quartet No. 8, written after he was coerced into joining the Communist Party in 1960 and 'dedicated to the victims of fascism and war', was littered with his four-note musical signature, incorporated the tune of an old Russian prison song, and featured short, sharp bursts of Psycho Strings that strongly resembled the NKVD's infamous early-morning knock on the door.
  • Psycho Strings: Shostakovich was particularly fond of these, using them to create an atmosphere of unsettling tension even where one would not expect to find such.
  • Stealth Parody: Symphony No. 5, 'An Artist's Creative Response to Just Criticism', was hurriedly composed to curry favour with the Party apparatchiks through the sort of simple, heroic classical music that they preferred, after Pravda's slamming of 'Lady Macbeth' left Shostakovich on very thin ice indeed. They happily lapped it up, too, not noticing the little details that he had slipped in to convey his own opinion of the project, like the Psycho Strings in the grand, triumphant finale.
  • Take That: After Pravda denounced 'Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District', forcing him to adhere more closely to Soviet-approved forms of music or face dire consequences, his work became littered with these. See the other tropes on the list for further details.
    • One good example is his Festive Overture, written very shortly after Joseph Stalin's death.
Howard ShoreComposersAlan Silvestri
Neil SedakaMusic of the 1960sSimon & Garfunkel

alternative title(s): Dmitri Shostakovich
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy