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This article attempts to reconstruct the persona of the 'Old Shostakovich' in Britain the pre-Testimony Shostakovich that is now a distant memory. Through examining widely disseminated sources such as newspaper reviews, radio broadcasts, articles in popular magazines, and programme notes, it traces Shostakovich's reception history in a culture that effected a shift from staunchly defending music's independence from politics to insisting upon political readings of Shostakovich's music. The reconstruction of the history of Shostakovich's British reception charts a range of changing attitudes: critical responses to the role of music in society; Britain's growing awareness of the social and cultural effects of Stalinism; and most important Shostakovich's developing stature as his music became more frequently played. Given the scale of this task, the article focuses on the reception of the Fifth Symphony, arguably the work that has accumulated the heaviest layer of interpretative commentary and has been the most controversial in Britain from its first performance there in 1939 until the present day.