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Nine months after Stalin's death on 10 December 1953, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 was premiered as his first symphonic composition since the end of the war. It was later interpreted by Solomon Volkov as a coded description of Stalin and the years of his regime. Although the music can certainly be understood in that sense - both in the extremely carefully composed first movement and in the brutal Scherzo which is claimed to be a portrait of Stalin - such an interpretation has remained controversial to this day. What is clear is that this dark work contains not only allusions to compositions by Mahler and Sibelius, but also frequent and richly varied appearances of Shostakovich’s own monogram DSCH and that of one of his students Elmira Nazirova.

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