By Lawrence A. Johnson
In 1950 Dimitri Shostakovich traveled to Leipzig for musical activities marking the 200th anniversary of Bach’s passing. In addition to partaking in concerts, he judged a Bach piano competition in which the first-prize winner was a young compatriot, Tatiana Nikolayeva.
The pilgrimage to Bach’s birthplace, combined with Nikolayeva’s playing, made a strong impression on Shostakovich. He subsequently composed his 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano.
Performances of the complete set are rare. Kudos to the University of Chicago Presents series for giving us the Full Dmitri, performed by Alexander Melnikov Sunday afternoon at Mandel Hall.