In late winter I always revisit Russian music, and lately it’s been Shostakovich. How about the finale to his Fifth Symphony to get your blood going this morning?

He wrote this after managing to get on Stalin’s bad side with an opera and after pulling his Fourth Symphony to not further anger the dictator. The party was pleased with the Fifth (which the composer subtitled “A Soviet Artist’s Practical Creative Reply to Just Criticism”), but, as Shostakovich later wrote:

I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat… It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, “Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,” and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, “Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.”…You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that.

More music history here. Happy Thursday, comrades!