Scores to the symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich, notes
Volume Three of Dmitry Shostakovich's Collected Works comprises the scores
of his symphonies Nos. 5 and 6.
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, was written in 1937. The process of composition took little more than three months: begun on April 18, the work was completed on July 20. In the composer's own words, "The process of work on the symphony was comparatively short (for example, I wrote the third movement in three days)."
This is what the composer said about his symphony's message shortly before its Moscow premiere: "My new work may be defined as a lyro-heroic symphony. Its main idea is man's emotional experiences and all-conquering optimism. I wanted to show how, overcoming a series of tragic conflicts arising in the intense struggle which rages in one's soul, optimism is born as a world-outlook.
"During the discussion of my symphony at the Leningrad section of the Union of Soviet Composers some comrades defined it as an autobiographical work. I think that, to a certain extent, this is correct. To my mind, any work of art contains autobiographical traits. The living human personality of the author must be present in any work of art. It must be a poor and dull work from which its creator is absent. But a symphony, though characteristic of my artistic personality, must not necessarily reflect episodes from my life."
In his article "My Creative Answer",3 written shortly afterwards.
Dmitry Shostakovich wrote: "The theme of my symphony is the making
of a man. I saw man with all his experiences in the centre of the composition,
which is lyrical in form from beginning to end."
In discussing the significance of this symphony later on the composer said: "My Fifth Symphony, written in 1937, was a landmark in my creative evolution. Its birth took place after a long inner preparation. My works that preceded it were not of equal value. There had been failures. So, in working on my Fifth Symphony I did my best to make the Soviet audience sense in my music a turn for a greater accessibility, a greater simplicity.
"I believe that, compared with my earlier works, this symphony marks a step forward in my orchestral thinking. The third movement, Adagio [Largo in the definitive version of the score—Ed.], seems to me especially satisfactory. I think that here I have succeeded in presenting a slow and unswerving motion from beginning to end. I have been told that the style of the fourth movement is somewhat different from the other three. I should say that this is not so, for, in keeping with the main idea of the whole work, the Finale gives answers to all the questions put in the preceding movements..the symphony's Finale provides a joyous and optimistic resolution to the intensely tragic moments of the preceding movements".4
The symphony was first performed by the Merited Ensemble of the RSFSR, the Academic Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Large Philharmonic Hall, Leningrad, on November 21, 1937.
The Moscow premiere of the Fifth Symphony was given by the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR at the Large Hall of the Conservatoire on January 29, 1938.
The Fifth Symphony's first performance abroad took place at the Pleyel
Hall, Paris, on June 14, 1938.
The score of the Fifth Symphony was published in 1939 by the Muzgiz, Moscow.
The whereabouts of the autograph score are not known; a few pages (in piano score) of the composer's sketches for the symphony's third and fourth movements are preserved at the Central State Archives of Literature and Art of the USSR (fond 2048, descriptive list 1, bit of storage No. 6).
The present edition is based on the text of the first edition of the symphony (Moscow, Muzgiz, 1939). All mistakes found in it were rectified in the last edition of the score to appear in the composer's lifetime (Moscow, Soviet Composer, 1961), where he introduced slight alterations touching upon the unification of dynamic markings and bowing. The most important alterations made in the 1961 score are discussed in the notes, with all editorial amendments given in square brackets.
Symphony No. 6 in В minor, Op. 54, was written in 1939. The composer stated that work on the symphony started after the completion of his First String Quartet on July 17, 1938. "After my Fifth Symphony I once more turned my attention to the screen composing music to the film 'Man at Arms'.
"Then came my first work for string quartet..It was generally acknowledged to be joyous, gay and lyrical. I defined it as 'Vernal'. I was highly satisfied with the excellent performance given to this work and to my next chamber instrumental composition—the Piano Quintet—by the Beethoven String Quartet.
"Between these two works I composed by Sixth Symphony which has by now become established in the repertoires of symphony orchestras."
The composer must have begun writing the symphony in the summer of 1939.
On August 27 he played on the piano excerpts from its first two movements
for a group of Leningrad musicians. In his introductory speech he said:
"This summer has been very productive for me. I plan to finish my
Sixth Symphony within a month or so. I have written two movements and
the entire symphony will consist of three."6 From
1 Preface to the score of D. Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, Moscow, Muzgiz, 1956, p. 4.
2 "Fifth Symphony by Shostakovich", Literaturnaya Gazeta, January 12, 1938.
3 Vechernaya Moskva, January, 25, 1938.
4 "Creative Searchings, Plans and Projects. An interview with composer Dmitry Shostakovich", Vechernaya Moskva, December 11, 1940.
5 "Creative Searchings, Plans and Projects. An interview with composer Dmitry Shostakovich", Vechernaya Moskva, December 11, 1940.
6 "Sixth Symphony by Dmitry Shostakovich", Vechernaya Moskva, August 28, 1939.
Shostakovich's further statements we learn that the symphony had practically been completed by the mid-October 1939, and it was given its premiere on November 5 of that year. Thus, its composition must have taken not more than four or four-and-a-half months.
In an interview with the Leningradskaya Pravda correspondent, Dmitry Shostakovich said: "My Sixth Symphony will differ in the character of its music from the moods and emotional tonus of my Fifth, with its tragic tenseness. The music of my latest symphony is predominantly contemplative and lyrical. I wanted to embody in it the moods associated with spring, joy and youth."
The Sixth Symphony was first performed by the Merited Ensemble of the
RSFSR, the Academic Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, on November 5, 1939,
at the Large Philharmonic Hall, Leningrad.
The score of the Sixth Symphony was published in 1941 by the Muzgiz, Moscow.
The whereabouts of the autograph score are not known. The composer's MS of the first movement arranged for two pianos is preserved at the State Central Glinka Museum of Musical Culture, Moscow (fond 32, bit of storage No. 67).
The present edition is based on the manuscript copy of the score preserved
at the Central State Archives of Literature and Art of the USSR (fond
2048, descriptive list 1, bit of storage No. 7) and the scores published
in the composer's lifetime. The 1941 score was based on a manuscript score
bearing numerous editorial markings and corrections made by the composer
(on pp. 46, 48, 49 and 103). Some of the errors of the 1941 score were
corrected in the 1962 edition which, however, is not entirely free from
errors and misprints.
The editor of the present edition has corrected without comment all apparent errors of the manuscript and printed scores. The essential variants and alterations made in the 1962 score are discussed in the notes, with all editorial amendments given in square brackets.