Symphony No. 11. “The Year 1905”
Moscow Conservatory Bolshoi Hall; USSR Symphony Orchestra, Natan Rakhlin.
Moscow, Sovetskii kompozitor and Muzgiz, 1958
RSALA, rec. gr. 2048, inv. 2, f. 1; Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive, rec. gr. 1, section 1, f. 41-45
Premieres: Moscow. Great Hall of the Conservatoire. October 30, 1957. State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR. Conductor N. Rakhlin.
In Leningrad this symphony was performed for the first time on November 3, 1957 in the Great Hall of the Philharmonia by the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonia.Conductor Y. Mravinsky.
Premieres abroad: December 14, 1958, New York. Carnegie Hall. New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor L. Stokowski.
April 1959. Paris. National Orchestra of the French Radio. Conductor A. Cluytens.
First Edition: Score, “Sovietskii kompozitor” Publishers, 1958.
“The theme of this symphony is the revolution of 1905. I am very fond of this period in the history of our Motherland which is vividly reflected in workers’ revolutionary songs. I don’t know whether I shall quote the tunes of these songs widely in my Symphony, but its musical language is going to be close in character to Russian revolutionary songs.”
Symphony No. 11. “The Year 1905”
The Eleventh Symphony in G minor, op. 103 (1957), is dedicated to the events of the first Russian revolution of 1905. The most important compositional characteristic of the work lies in the fact that almost all of its thematic material is formed from songs that were popular at the time of the 1905 revolution.
The sketches to the first movement give the precise date work began on the symphony: ‘18 II 1957’. The score of the Eleventh Symphony was finished on 4 August 1957. Soon thereafter, the composer did the symphony’s arrangement for piano in four hands.
The symphony was performed for the music community of Leningrad and Moscow in its four-hand author’s arrangement in September 1957: on 17 September Shostakovich and composer Mikhail Meyerovich played it at the Leningrad House of Composers, and on 25 September at the headquarters of the USSR Union of Composers. The appearance of a programmatic symphony dedicated to a significant episode of relatively recent Russian history was the most prominent event of Soviet music life on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, and the premiere of the symphony was an important part of the anniversary celebrations. In contrast to most of Shostakovich’s previous symphonies, the Eleventh premiered in Moscow, instead of in Leningrad: on 30 October 1957, the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Natan Rakhlin performed it in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The Leningrad premiere was held on 3 november, the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra being conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky. The most important foreign premieres were: 22 January 1958, London, BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent; 7 April 1958, Houston (Texas, USA), Houston Symphony Orchestra, conductor Leopold Stokowski; and 19 may 1958, Paris, National Orchestra of French radio, conductor André Cluytens.
In 1958, the Eleventh Symphony was conferred the highest Soviet award—the Lenin Prize.
- USSR Symphony Orchestra, Natan Rachlin. 1957 // MK D04234-7, 1958
- Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeni Mravinsky. 1957 // MK D4808-11, 1958
- BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent. 1958 // Eyewitness Records, 2006
- Houston Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski. 1958 // Capitol PBR 8448 and SPBR 8448
- French National Radio Orchestra, Andre Cluytens. 1958 // EMI PCX 758-9
- Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandr Gauk. 1958 // Brilliant Classics 8866
- Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin. 1973 // Melodiya CM 04273-4, 1974
- Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Berglund. 1978 // HMV ASD 3772-3, 1980
- USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. 1983 // Melodiya A10 00029 000, 1984
- Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink. 1983 // Decca 414 126-1DH, 1985
- Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi. 1989 // Deutsche Grammophon CD 429 405-2GH, 1990
- National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Mstislav Rostropovich. 1992 // Teldec 9031 76262-2, 1993
- Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky. 1995 // Chandos CHAN 9476, 1996
- Philadelphia Orchestra, Mariss Jansons. 1996 // EMI Classics CDC5 55601-2, 1997
- Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev. 2005 // PentaTone classics PTC 5186 076, 2006
- Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko. 2008 // Naxos 8.572082, 2009
- Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra. Alexander Sladkovsky. 2017 // Melodiya. MEL CD 1002470, 2017 (13 CDs)