A major facet of the Soviet government's propaganda was classical music; many works that remain in the standard classical repertoire, like Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony (which the LPO performed a few weeks ago) were originally sponsored by the Soviet government. These works generally fall within the Soviet Constructivist style, emphasizing a sense of collective heroism over recognizable melodies or subtle emotional impact. Several composers, including Shostakovich and Prokofiev, had to walk a fine line between satisfying the communist government and exploring a personal style. An exceptional case, however, is Aram Khachaturian, who used a style highly independent of constructivism while running into little trouble with the government. His style is nationalistically Armenian, using folk melodies, complex and exotic rhythms, and nationalist subject matter. Listen, for example, to his Toccata in Eb Minor, which is a favorite among pianists for the showiness of the piece, the relative ease of playing it, and the fact that it is fun both to play and listen to:
The piece's rapid pace, eccentric harmonies, and compelling rhythm are all completely characteristic of Khachaturian. This nationalist, blatantly emotional style was tolerated because it was entirely apolitical; it could be taken as a celebration of the Soviet Union's diversity without suggesting any sort of independence. In retrospect, though, it was rather dangerous for the Soviet authorities to flirt with allowing nationalism to develop, as movements like the Czech Spring were fueled by nationalism, which was in that case furthered by classical music.