Works Chamber Compositions for Voice and Songs

“Satires” (“Pictures of the Past”) for Voice and Piano

Opus 108 Opus 110

Opus 109
1960 year

Shostakovich’s Vocal Cycles of the 1940s-1960s.


Moscow. Small Hall of the Conservatoire. Performers M. Rostropovich and G. Vishnevskaya.

first publication:

1967. D. Shostakovich, Vocal Works, “Muzyka” Publishers, Moscow.


The hand-written score is in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art (Stack 2048, Inv. 2, Item 29).

Dedication:  “To G. P. Vishnevskaya”.
Duration:  12’

 “...Cheerful emotions are not alien to me. I have written five satirical romances to words by a well-known pre-revolutionary poet and satirist Sasha Chernyi. In a caustic and sarcastic way he makes fun of philistines from the reactionary years, which followed in the wake of the revolution of 1905. Chernyi writes with great malice about people who immersed themselves in mysticism and sought to hide away in a narrow, personal world”

“Satires” (“Pictures of the Past”)
For Voice and Piano on Verses by Sasha Chernyi

     The vocal cycle on verses by Sasha Chorny (Alexander Glikberg, 1880-1932) for soprano and piano was finished on 19 June 1960. Appearance of the cycle is associated with the publication of the first large collection of the poet’s poetry, who emigrated in 1920 from Soviet Russia and died in France 12 years later.
     The vocal cycle Satires (Pictures of the Past) on Verses by Sasha Chorny is dedicated to Galina Vishnevskaya.
     The premiere of the vocal cycle Satires (Pictures of the Past) on Verses by Sasha Chorny was held on 22 February 1961 in Moscow in the Small Hall of the Conservatory. It was performed by Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich (piano). The composition was a huge success and, at the audience’s request, was performed in its entirety a second time.
     The cycle on verses by Sasha Chorny was played for the first time in leningrad on 27 May 1961: Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich performed it in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic.
     On 28 May 1966, the cycle was performed in Leningrad in the Glinka Hall with the author’s participation for the last time. Vishnevskaya sang. on 29 May, the concert did not take place; during the night, the composer had a stroke.
     Satires was not published for the first time until six years after the premiere, in 1967, and not in the form of a separate publication, but as part of the collection: D. Shostakovich, Vocal Compositions, Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1967.
In Volume 33 of Shostakovich’s Collected Works (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1984), the cycle is published without a dedication (and without mention of the participants in the premiere in its introductory article) due to the censorship prohibition on mention in the press of the names of ‘ideological degenerates and defectors’ Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya.


  • Šulcová B., Zichová Z. 1976 // PRAGA PRODUCTION PR 250009