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Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8 was composed within a period of only a few weeks in 1943. Its unusual formal structure, with five very unevenly balanced movements, was not the only thing to alienate the critics at first: above all, the expected triumphant final movement was missing, which would have symbolised the turning point of the on-going war after the Battle of Stalingrad. While it was officially agreed that this symphony reflected the horror of war, the conductor Kurt Sanderling, a friend of Shostakovich, said that it was a representation of the "horror of an intellectual's life at that time".

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