Dmitri Shostakovich composed Symphony No. 5 in just four months during 1937 when he was 31 years old. It was premiered in Leningrad that same year and was an immediate success.
Symphony No. 5 lasts for about 45 minutes and is in four movements, or musical chapters. The symphony follows a traditional structure of fast paced outer movements with dance form and slow inner movements.
Symphony No. 5 was unusual in that it was considered successful by both the public and by official Stalinist regime music critics. Authorities who had previously threatened Shostakovich for composing anti-Stalinist music found he had conformed to their requirements, while the general public heard it clearly expressing their point of view of suffering under Stalin’s regime.
Random fun fact: No matter how young or old he is in his photos, people always seem to note that Shostakovich resembles Harry Potter.
Shostakovich’s score calls for 2 flutes and piccolo, 2 clarinets and E-flat clarinet, 2 bassoons and contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, a whole bunch of percussion - snare drum, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, glockenspiel, xylophone, 2 harps, piano, and celesta - and the usual string section of violins, violas, cellos, and basses.