The Song of the Forests

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Dmitry Shostakovich

The Song of the Forests

Op. 81

About this work

Shostakovich composed The Song of the Forests in 1949, that is, the year after he had been condemned for being a formalist, a bourgeois, and a blight on the Soviet musical landscape. The work has all the earmarks of a work composed specifically to lick the boot that oppressed him: it is loud, banal, and simplistic. A hymn to Stalin's plan to plant forests across the Caucasus Mountains, the work is monumental in form and shallow in content. Scored for tenor and baritone soloists, adult and children's choirs, and expanded orchestra, The Song of the Forests is in seven continuous parts: "When the War Ended," "We Will Clothe Our Homeland With Forests," "Memories of the Part," "The Pioneers Plant the Forests," "The Young Communists Go Forth," "A Walk in the Future" and ending with "Glory!" The text by Soviet poet laureate Evgeni Dolmatovsky is bathetic in the extreme, laudatory to Stalin to the point of deification. The sections of the piece that specifically invoke Stalin, however, were later changed, and his name was removed from them. Despite this, The Song of the Forests remains a low point in Shostakovich's oeuvre.