Dmitri Shostakovich was one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated composers, and achieved fame in his own country Russia, then in the USA and worldwide.

He was born in Saint Petersburg in 1906 as the second of three, and was a child prodigy as a pianist and composer. He studied composition, counterpoint and fugue at the Petrograd Conservatory under Alexander Glazunov, and composed his first symphony as his graduation piece.

He started his full time career as a concert pianist and composer but soon settled on composing. His output included 15 symphonies, six concertos, string quartets, preludes and many film scores.
Soviet opinion tended to be suspicious of the arts; he received many accolades but also had a complex and difficult relationship with the Stalin administration, culminating in his escape to America. He was however accepted back into the fold after Stalin’s death (marked by his Tenth Symphony)
Shostakovich was married three times and did not enjoy good health in his later years. He contacted polio, suffered from falls and heart attacks. He died of lung cancer, received a Russian state funeral and was commemorated on a Russian stamp.

Jazz Suite No.2 (D. Shostakovich)

Shostakovich responded to a Leningrad competition to promote Soviet jazz. He composed his first jazz suite as an encouragement to others, and he followed it up a few years later with the second. Due to band contest time constraints, only six of the eight movements were arranged for Flute Bands – the opening march, the two waltzes, two dances and the finale (the other movements consisted of a lyric waltz and a polka).

It proved to be a very popular test-piece, and some of the movements have since been played in contests, concerts and radio broadcasts.