He was born in Kiev and studied at the Petrograd Conservatory in 1914–17. While a student, Dmitry Pokrass started writing songs for variety artists, publishing some of them through Leon Idzikovsky House. He had been composing romances until 1928, with some of them performed by Piotr Leszczenko. Pokrass returned to Kiev after graduating and became known as an accompanist. In 1919, he worked at the 'Crooked Jimmy' variety theater in Rostov-on-Don.
The musician served in the 1st Cavalry Army as a military orchestra conductor in 1919–21. Together with Anatoly D'Actile, who worked at the political affairs division of the 1st Cavalry, Dmitry Pokrass wrote a famous Budyonny March in 1920. Ironically just six months earlier, when White Army was still occupying Rostov-on-Don, the musician composed Drozdovtsvy' March, commissioned by Mikhail Gordeevich Drozdovsky (1881–1919), a high-ranked White Army officer and one of the leaders of the anti-Bolshevik movement in the South regions of Russia.
Since 1923, Dmitry Pokrass had been living in Moscow where he worked as a principal conductor at the Moscow Music Hall (1926–36) and gave piano concerts. He started collaborating extensively with his brother Daniel in 1932, and the composers' duo worked together until 1954. They composed numerous popular hits, theme songs for movies and theatrical plays, military songs and odes praising Joseph Stalin, Kliment Voroshilov, and Semyon Budyonny. Pokrass worked as an artistic director of the jazz orchestra at the Central House of Culture of Railwaymen from 1936 until 1972.
During the anti-Semite campaign in the late forties and early fifties, Pokrass Brothers were heavily criticized for Jewish folk elements and influences in their music. The orchestra which Dmitry led had been disbanded, and to avoid further trouble, Pokrass started giving concerts further away from the capital, namely in the Far East and Sakhalin regions. After Stalin had died, the composer was largely rehabilitated, with Nikita Khrushchev being particularly fond of his music (at the time, some of his military songs and marches were censored to remove Stalin from the lyrics).
Singles & EPs
|4216, 4196||Л.И. Хачатуров*, Оркестр и хор под упр. Дм. Покрасс*||Л.И. Хачатуров*, Оркестр и хор под упр. Дм. Покрасс* - Песня Романа / Рабоче-крестьянская (Shellac, 10", Mono)||Ногинский Завод, Ногинский Завод||4216, 4196||USSR||1936||Sell This Version|
|33С 60-05921-22||Дмитрий и Даниил Покрасс*||Песни (LP, Comp)||Мелодия||33С 60-05921-22||USSR||1975||Sell This Version|