Shostokovich's Fifth Symphony
By their beauty or depth, many symphonies may be said to have saved a life. Shostokovich's Fifth Symphony, however, saved the composer's life quite literally. His opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District received acclaim and ran successfully for two years, but its run was curtailed following a negative review in the State mouthpiece, Pravda, which many attributed to the pen of Stalin himself. Following this, Shostokovich is said to have worked with a suitcase packed and to have slept in the stairwell of his building so as to not awake his family upon his arrest. His next work, he knew, must put him right with the government. After rescinding his Fourth Symphony for fear that it was too complex and not in line with the prescribed soviet realism, he composed the Fifth. The Sixth Symphony premiered two years later.