World Cup Music: Shostakovich’s Soccer Match

Don’t underestimate the power of either sports or music when it comes to exciting a crowd. Even as a tormented composer writing under the harsh restrictions and demands of Communism, in his 1929 ballet  The Golden Age big-time soccer fan and sometime soccer referee Shostakovich recreated a soccer match. In this ballet, a communist soccer team travels to the West to compete against the evil “capitalists” (real boiler-plate geo-political plot!).  Listen to his brilliant recreation of a fast-paced soccer match:

I would love to have seen this ballet scene. Wonder if the choreographer was a soccer fan too? Probably so. . .

Tips for Music Teachers:

1. Play this musical soccer match for your students, and see how many can guess what sport is being depicted. 

2. Ask students to guess why the composer chose to include this work in a ballet, rather than a symphony, opera, or choral work.

3. Ask students to choreograph & perform in teams their own interpretation of Shostakovich’s soccer match.

4. Ask students to research other examples where composers have depicted sports events in their music (and share them with us!).

5. Ask students to describe what music and sports have in common.

6. Show students the vuvuzela, the obnoxiously loud, monotone horn used at this year’s World Cup.  This is a great seque to open the discussion on noise pollution and hearing protection! (Hope they ban the horn for the next World Cup!)

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