According to my own taste and sensibility, I naturally appreciate composers from 2nd half of XVIIIth century to nowadays, particularly composers of the end of XIXth and beginning of XXth centuries: Mahler, Bruckner, Strauss (Richard), Sibelius, Debussy, Ravel, Honegger, Schönberg, Berg, Webern, Prokofiev, Strawinsky, Britten... I cannot mention all of them !
Nearer from us, I admire composers such as Dutilleux, Messiaen, Schnittke, Rihm or Henze; I also like some works by Ligeti, Kurtag or Boulez.
I discovered Shostakovich's music in the years 1979-1980, when he was in France an unrecognized composer, his music was never played and therefore both he and his music were very badly regarded. In this time he was often considered as a submissive composer to the stalinian regime, apostle of the "soviet realism", having an academic and reactionary language; people who said that had generally never heard a single note of his music. Moreover, during this period a post-serialism dictatorship was occuring in this country. My discovery of Shostakovich's works was really a revelation and I was immediatly convinced that he was one of the most important composers of the century.
Reading (too rare) books on Shostakovich, instructing me in his tortured life and personality, reinforced my opinion. One among them, particularly distressing, reveals a vision (for such a long time unknown in the West) of this worthy man, of his rich character: its title is in French "Lettres à un ami", correspondance avec Isaac Glickman (Letters to a friend, correspondence with Isaac Glickman) but I do not know any English version of it (although there is probably one).
An international association exists which promotes Shostakovich's music and also all contemporary Russian music. Mrs Irina Shostakovich, the composer's wife, is its Vice President, and many great musicians support it, as Claudio Abbado, Galina Vihnievskaïa, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Bernard Haïtink, Yehudi Menuhin, Guennadi Rojdestvenski and so on. Below is its address:
Association Internationale Dimitri Chostakovitch
19 bis rue des Saints-Pères
Tél. : +33(0)1 47 03 90 43
Fax : +33(0)1 47 03 90 23
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
web : http://www.chostakovitch.org
I am very pleased that this association resides in Paris, because frankly speaking, even if Shostakovich is a little better known and heard in France now, it is still a necessity to stand up for him against ignorance and prejudices. It is not the recent infatuation for one of his Valses, famous since it was used for an advertisement, which can help for that, due to the number of stupid words I heard or read on this occasion.
Nevertheless, below are a few links to sites about "Shosta":
The International Shostakovich Association
Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich
Alexandre H. Hohmann's Shostakovich page
Julia Lozos' Shostakovich Site