For over 20 years, thousands of audience members from the Bay Area and beyond have savored San Francisco Performances' Saturday Morning musical conversations, exploring composers and concepts with the Alexander String Quartet and SFP's music historian-in-residence Robert Greenberg. The series combines complete performances of string quartets with Greenberg's witty profound takes on these works, their creators and their place in history and the hearts of music lovers.
This season, the series focuses on the complete string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich. Part 2 begins on January 20, 2018 with Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67, Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110. Roger Woodward will be playing piano.
The musical career of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) mirrored exactly the rise and history of the Soviet Union from 1917-1975. He entered the Petrograd Conservatory at the very end of the Tsarist era; he witnessed the Revolution and began his career during Lenin's rule; he was nearly purged twice by Stalin; he flourished under Khrushchev and died while Brezhnev was in power. Shostakovich was a survivor and a great composer, and his fear and self-loathing, his courage and experience found their way into his music. As such, Shostakovich is not just the most important composer of string quartets and symphonies from the 1920s to the 1970s; even more, he and his music stand as witnesses to the rise and failures of the Soviet Union, one of the defining events of the twentieth century. In these days of resurgent Russian despotism, Shostakovich's life, experience, and music offer an extraordinary cautionary tale.