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There is a certain grace and elegance in football that could be likened to aspects of ballet – and if ever there was a composer of timeless classical music who adored the game, it was Dmitri Shostakovich, to whom this quote is attributed.
The Russian was an avid supporter of his home city of Leningrad’s teams – Dynamo and Zenit – and he even dedicated a ballet to football: The Golden Age. It wasn’t uncommon to see him in the stands at Leningrad (now St Petersburg). With his little round glasses, well-cut suit and distinguished air, Shostakovich looked out of place amongst other supporters – most of whom were from working class backgrounds.
Analysing the game was one of his greatest pastimes – so much so that he wrote several articles for the Soviet sporting press documenting Dynamo and Zenit’s on-the-pitch exploits. Shostakovich also kept notebooks – painstakingly jotting down on a daily basis the dates of matches, as well as team lists, players’ nicknames and all the results.
A keen footballer as well, he was described by a friend of his in Elizabeth Wilson’s biography Shostakovich: A Life Remembered as a man ‘…who played with gusto, he really threw his heart into it …’
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