Musicologists have divided western music into distinct musical eras spanning from the secular music of the Renaissance to the avant garde music of the 21st century. The result when composers live during the end of one and beginning of another is endless debate and inevitable debacle to determine which era they belonged to. I have therefore determined to investigate the development of Shostakovich’s harmonic language throughout his compositional lifetime, with the intent to discover how he bridged the musical eras of romanticism and 20th century music.
My methodology in conducting this investigation is:
1. Gaining an understanding of the social and political context in which Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and other compositions were written as well as becoming knowledgeable of Shostakovich’s life and possible influences by means of reliable biographical resources both secondary and primary.
2. Obtaining an in depth understanding and complete comprehension of the techniques used by Shostakovich throughout various compositions through macro and micro analysis of Shostakovich’s scores of:
a. Symphony No. 1
b. Symphony No. 5
c. Piano Trio No. 2 – Passacaglia
d. Symphony No. 9
- Comprehension of Schenkerian and Neo-Riemannian analysis was developed through extensive study with my private teacher.
3. Come to a conclusion based on my investigation.
The results of my investigation conclude that Shostakovich’s harmonic language became increasingly atonal and chromatically oriented throughout his compositional lifetime. The cause of this change in harmonic style was inclusive of both personal expression under the eye of political oppression and the contextual movement toward more symmetrically based music among many composers.