Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-3-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Carl Donakowski


This paper examines Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, opus 107, as an exemplary work of the composer. In order to attempt a holistic understanding of the piece, I approached it in several ways. First, I examined the influence of several composers, including Saint-Saëns, Prokofiev, and especially Mahler. Mahler’s influence is most significant in the juxtaposition of incongruous elements, often to ironic effect. My second major topic of interest is in harmonic processes particular to Shostakovich. His use of harmony is unique in the way it successfully avoids traditional tonal processes while remaining accessible and engaging to the listener. My third area of discussion involves Shostakovich’s frequent use of musical reference, both to his own music and outside sources. References of this nature often have personal significance for Shostakovich, a fact that the Cello Concerto demonstrates. For a fourth approach, I discuss Shostakovich’s formal clarity in this piece, which is another trait that makes his music accessible. This clarity is aided by a cyclic reappearance of the piece’s opening motive in later movements. I also discuss some aspects of orchestration that make the form and content of the piece effective. My research of the concerto indicates that the piece displays a characteristically personal style for Shostakovich, observable in the topics discussed here.

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