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Shostakovich: Hamlet

Here’s a hint: It's a dramatic fight to the death!

In addition to his notable output of orchestral and choral masterpieces, Dmitri Shostakovich was also a prolific writer of film scores. Many of Russia’s greatest cinematic classics are accompanied to music written by Shostakovich.

This score is from a famous 1964 Russian film version of what many call “the greatest play in the English language,” Hamlet. In The Duel and Death of Hamlet, the troubled hero confronts his evil uncle and avenges his dead father before dying from his wounds.

This particular scene in the play is particularly gruesome because most of the main characters are killed off in a very short period of time! Hamlet isn’t the only Shakespearean film for which Shostakovich wrote a musical score.In 1970, he composed a score for a film version of another great tragedy, King Lear, which was directed by the same director who filmed Hamlet!

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