The scores for the suite, overture of Dmitri Shostakovich, notes
Volume Twenty-three of Dmitry Shostakovich's Collected Works comprises
the scores of his Suite from "The Nose", Op. 15a, of the Overture
and Finale to E. Dressel's opera Armer Columbus, Op. 23, and of his unfinished
operas The Great Lightning and The Gamblers, Op. 63.
Suite from "The Nose" in seven parts, Op. 15a, was made up in May-June 1928, immediately upon the completion of the opera.1 The first page of the autograph score bears the inscription "V-VI 1928" in the composer's hand. In this Suite Shostakovich incorporated the most important and structurally rounded-off orchestral episodes and three vocal items (Kovalyov's Aria and Monologue and Ivan's Song).
Shostakovich's Suite from "The Nose" was first performed by the Sovphil Orchestra at the Large Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire on November 25, 1928. Its Leningrad premiere was given by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra at the Large Philharmonic Hall on May 26, 1929. Outside the Soviet Union the Suite was performed in Prague, on October 19, 1929, before the opera's premiere which took place on January 18, 1930.
The present publication of Suite from "The Nose" is the first
in the USSR. It is based on the autograph score preserved at the Shostakovich
family archives, collated with the MS copy of the score in possession
of the Rental Library of the USSR Music Fund.
The Overture and Finale to E. Dressel's opera Armer Columbus, Op. 23, were written in January or February 1929, at the same time as the incidental music to Vladimir Mayakovsky's play The Bedbug (Op. 19) and to the film New Babylon (Op. 18).
The two pieces Op. 23 came into being in connection with the production
at the Maly Opera House, Leningrad, of an opera by the German composer
Erwin Dressel (1909-72). This opera was included in the theatre's repertoire
for the 1928-29 season under the title of Columbus at the initiative of
N. V. Smolich, the director, later recalled: "We had committed ourselves to the composer, yet we had little faith in the success of our undertaking but could not back out of it. So our company did everything in their power to save the production."3 In particular, it was decided to provide the opera with an epilogue entitled "What Is America Today?"4 and Shostakovich who was associated with the Maly Opera House where his The Nose was being rehearsed was entrusted with the task of writing an overture and finale for Columbus. In the Finale a cartoon film was to be shown to Shostakovich's music, so his score bears the following remarks: "Dreadnaughts, steamships, aeroplanes", "The picture fades out to a mere dot", "The dot grows out and becomes a dollar", "Enter Yankees", "The Kellogg Pact", etc. The sequence "Discard war: everything to be decided by peaceful means" has determined the words in the choral episodes at Fig. 11: "Peace, peace, peace between the nations!"
The musical theme at the "Enter Yankees" episode (Allegretto, Fig. 7 in the Finale) was used by the composer in his music for the Conditional Death music-hall review (Op. 31, 1931) and also in the finale of his First Piano Concerto (Op. 35, 1933).
When Columbus came to be produced, the opera opened with Mozart's Overture
for The Marriage of Figaro while Shostakovich's Overture was performed
before Scene Six (hence its alternative title "Interlude").
The premiere of Columbus, with Shostakovich's pieces Op. 23 performed for the first time, took place on March 14, 1929, at the Maly Opera House. Leningrad. At the insistent demand of the audience the Interlude before Scene Six (the Overture) was repeated. The opera had 13 performances till the end of the season and was not revived in the next.
The pieces Op. 23 were for the first time performed on the concert stage in the late seventies: the Overture was played by the student orchestra of the Moscow Conservatoire at the Estonia Theatre, Tallin, on February 3, 1977, and at the Large Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, on February 10, 1977; the Finale was presented by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and the chorus of the Krupskaya Institute of Culture, Leningrad, at the Large Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic on February 11, 1981.
The autograph scores of the Overture and Finale were long believed lost; they have been discovered
at the Music Library of the Maly Opera House, Leningrad, (Overture) and at the Central Music Library of the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre, Leningrad, (Finale).
The Great Lightning, a comic opera, was to be Dmitry Shostakovich's fourth
work in this genre after The Gypsies, an early opera on a Pushkin subject,
The Nose and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.
Upon completing the score of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (the end of 1932 and beginning of 1933) Shostakovich was eagerly looking for subjects of new operas. He wrote about this in the press more than once, deploring the poor librettos he had considered and defining the quality of the libretto as one of the main issues facing the composer who wanted to write an opera.5 In his article "To Weep and to Laugh" he wrote: "All the librettos which I was offered were sketchy. The characters did not inspire me with love or hatred—they were so conventional.Time and again I would try to recruit the cooperation of professional writers, but for some reason or other all of them turned down my offer of such 'insignificant' work as writing an operatic libretto. Nikolai Aseyev, it is true, wrote for me the libretto for the comic opera The Great Lightning, but this work was not in my line."6 Nothing was further known about this opera and it was believed that the composer had not started work on it.7 In 1980, however, the conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky discovered the manuscripts of the full and vocal scores of nine items from the comic opera The Great Lightning. The work was not completed, probably because of the composer's dissatisfaction with the libretto.
As is clear from the part of the libretto at our disposal, the action of Scene One takes place in the hotel of a capitalist country where a workers' delegation from the Soviet Union is shortly to arrive. A similar situation providing for the comparison of people belonging to two different social worlds has been utilized in the ballet The Golden Age (op. 22, 1929-30). Dmitry Shostakovich parodied in his opera quotations from Reinhold Gliere's ballet The Red Poppy (No. 3, "The Architect's Song"), from the Russian folk song "There Was a Birch-Tree in the Field" (No. 3) and from Beethoven's piano capriccio Fury over a Lost Groschen (No. 9, "March of the Models").
The unfinished opera The Great Lightning was first given in concert form at the Large Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic on February 11, 1981.
The autograph score and vocal score of its initial nine items are preserved at the Music Library of the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre, Leningrad.
Published here for the first time.
Dmitry Shostakovich worked on the opera The Gamblers, Op. 63, on the text of Nikolai Gogol's play of that title for nearly a year, from the end of December 1941 to the end of 1942. David Rabinovich states in his book—presumably on the composer's authority—that Dmitry Shostakovich began work on The Gamblers "on the day after he had completed the Leningrad Symphony8, December 28, 1941. In his letter to Marietta Shaginyan, dated March 1, 1943, the composer says: "I've given up writing the opera although I was busy with it for about a year."
In The Gamblers, his second opera on a Gogol subject (the first was The Nose), Dmitry Shostakovich set himself the task of preserving the play's text intact. "I am writing an opera on The Gamblers, with the text unchanged and unabridged", wrote Shostakovich to Vissarion Shebalin on June 10, 1942.10 In November of that year he wrote that he continued working on the opera: "I take my time working on the impractical opera The Gamblers. I call it 'impractical' because that's exactly what it is: the music already in existence takes 30 minutes to perform, and this is just about one-seventh of the whole work. Too long! All the same, I even derive certain pleasure from this."11 Shortly afterwards, however, Shostakovich gave up composing The Gamblers, for he realised that his original intention to preserve intact the text of Gogol's play would make the staging of the opera all but impossible. He wrote to Vissarion Shebalin on December 27, 1942: "I've dropped the work which I showed to you in Moscow (The Gamblers) because of the complete impractibility of that project."12 Speaking of this unfinished work three decades later Dmitry Shostakovich once more explained his reluctance to continue writing the opera by the divergence between the original idea of the work and the practical demands of its production. In an interview given to Royal Brown in New York on June 13, 1973, Dmitry Shostakovich said: "My approach to this opera was wrong from the start. I decided to use Gogol's text in its entirety, without omitting a single word. When I had used about ten pages of Gogol's text I found that my music to it took up fifty minutes—and there were nearly thirty pages more."
The autograph score of the opera The Gamblers breaks off in the thirteenth
bar after Fig. 194. The autograph vocal score has seven bars more.14 In
the present publication these seven bars are given in Gennady Rozhdestvensky's
orchestration. The full and the vocal scores were originally marked as
Op. 63, but subsequently the composer gave this opus number to his suite
Native Leningrad (1942).
Dmitry Shostakovich utilised the musical material of the introduction and opening scene from The Gamblers in the second movement, Allegretto, of his Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 147.
Edited by Gennady Rozhdestvensky, The Gamblers was first performed in concert form by members of the Moscow Chamber Opera and the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra at the Large Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic on September 18, 1978.
The Gamblers, edited by the Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer who also
wrote music to the rest of the Gogol text, had its stage premiere at the
opera house in Wuppertal, FRG, on June 12, 1983.
The score of The Gamblers was published by the Sovetsky Kompozitor in 1981. The autograph score is preserved at the Shostakovich family archives.
The present publication is based on the 1981 edition collated with the autograph full and vocal scores, and also with the published vocal score. All errors and discrepancies have been corrected and are discussed in the notes at the end of the volume. Editorial emendations are printed in square brackets.
The vocal score of The Gamblers will be published in Volume Twenty-eight.