Music in Soviet Russia

By – Sam Price, author

From 1922 until 1991 Russia was a communist state. The original idea of communism was created by Karl Marx, it was then adopted by Lenin who during the Bolshevik Revolution destroyed the Tsarist state of Russia and replaced it with the United Soviet Socialist Republics. During this time period from 1922 until 1991 art, culture, and music were all heavily restricted by the party leaders. During the 1930’s especially the Russian Communist Government was very strict about what sort ideas were being talked about or discussed. Any talk or discussion about the faults of the party could land you in prison or worse executed. Music, art, and culture were all required to be in line with the ideas of the communist party. The government used constant propaganda and the educational system to influence public opinion in their favor. TV, radio, and newspapers were all controlled by the government.

Shostakovich, one of the most famous Russian composers was born in 1906 in St. Petersburg Russia. He quickly became a very skilled piano player and studied music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Tchaikovsky, a different Russian man, was a very influential composer during the twentieth century. Shostakovich throughout his career used Tchaikovsky’s musical ideas in his own work. As stated previously during the 1930’s music in Russia was under strict government control. Joseph Stalin the soviet leader, hated the music Shostakovich created. Shostakovich was thus heavily criticized by members of the press and forced to change his music. Throughout the rest of his career he managed to tip-toe through the soviet period pleasing government officials with his music and finally died in Moscow, in 1975. People still wonder today if Shostakovich was a supporter of the communist party or secretly disliked them.