Editors’ Notes Although Shostakovich lived in constant fear of Stalin and his regime (his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk was denounced by a now-infamous Communist Party editorial titled “Muddle Instead of Music"), the composer made a triumphant return to acceptance with the Fifth Symphony. His music runs the gamut, from the triumphant and public (Symphony No. 5), via the illustrative (No. 12, The Year 1917) to the sardonic (No. 15). His 15-string quartets offer a glimpse of his inner life like an emotional diary, and his 24 Preludes and Fugues display his virtuosity as a composer, paying homage to Bach. His music speaks with a directness and power that explains why he is one of the most performed 20th-century composers.

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