More and more, critics consider the highly controversial Soviet composer Shostakovich to be the most important existentialist composer of the 20th century. A remarkable prodigy who astonished the musical world with his First Symphony, Shostakovich lived during the dangerous political climate of the Stalinist era. He developed a paradoxical style characterized by searing emotional intensity coexisting with politically motivated or mandated paradigms. This class will place the musical content in context, with analysis, lecture, and listening, and survey relevant personal, literary, and journalistic sources. Music literacy is not required.