Maxim's Return, the second of the Maxim trilogy by directors Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, was the first film score Shostakovich undertook after he was condemned by the Communist Party on the front page of Pravda on January 28, 1936. Prior to this, he had used his earnings from film work to augment his income. But, by the summer of 1936, performances of Shostakovich's music had all but ceased and his income had become drastically reduced. Thus, Shostakovich took on the music of Maxim's Return not only because he enjoyed working for the directors (in addition to Maxim's Youth, Shostakovich had previously scored their The New Babylon in 1929) but because he needed the money. He spent much of late summer in Odessa as musical supervisor for the film and later turned in a score for the completed work.
Unfortunately, no recording of the complete score is currently available: only five of the movements of the eight-movement suite drawn from the music of the three Maxim films, Opus 50a. Of these movements, four are in the populist style of Shostakovich's post-Pravda music, and only one, the brief Attack composed in the form of a fugue, is vintage mid-1930s Shostakovich: tense, tough, and powerfully stern.