Nothing is as it seems here. And everything seems futile here. Can one say it any more briefly? Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 remains a complete enigma for the observant listener. However, in an attempt to explain it, let us consider, for the time being, the few, straight facts: the work was composed between April and the end of July 1971, and is the last symphony to issue from Shostakovich’s pen. It was given its première in Moscow in 1972, under the direction of his son Maxim. Not much more can be said about the Symphony No. 15 that is clear and unambiguous, unless one chooses to describe the musical processes in the sense of a musicological analysis of the structure, in order to present formal criteria or the course of the work, for example. Of course, these parameters offer no more than a point of orientation for an assessment of the contents or an interpretation of the work. However, none of the symphonies written by Shostakovich can be interpreted out of the context of the extreme biographical situation of this composer in the Soviet Union. To be sure, the fifteen symphonies – from the first to the last – do not just reflect in music Soviet history between 1926 and “Listen to my music. That says it all” 1972; they also encapsulate the survival strategy of a man who suffered for decades under the threat first of fascist extermination campaigns, and later, time and again, of the dictatorial state terror. As Shostakovich struggled with major health problems after his heart attack in 1966, he must have realized that each work from that time onwards could well have been his last. And thus – whether consciously or subconsciously – his own musical requiem, as long as it did not end up on the index beforehand. After all, even long after Stalin’s reign of terror, artistsin the Soviet Union were still subject to the unamenable rulings of the party leadership and their executive thugs.