Symphony No. 15
Moscow Conservatory Bolshoi Hall; All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, Maksim Shostakovich.
Moscow, Sovetskii kompozitor, 1972
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive, rec. gr. 1, section 1, f. 69 (score), 70 (piano score), 71, 72 (sketches)
Premiere: January 8, 1972. Moscow. Great Hall of the Conservatoire. Main Symphony Orchestra of the All-Union Radio and Central Television. Conductor M. Shostakovich.
On March 24, 1972 in the same hall the symphony was performed by the State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR.
On May 5, 1972 the symphony was performed by the Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Conductor Y. Mravinsky.
During 1972 Symphony No.15 was performed in many cities of the Soviet Union, in Britain, the United States and other countries.
“The symphony was written in the summer of 1971. I worked on it intensively but quite fast - about two months. This is a work written for a comparatively small orchestra. I am very anxious before the premiere...”
“ The last works by Shostakovich were distinguished by a remarkable skill for producing a strong impact through quiet music <...> profoundly moving in its essence, elevated and impeccable <...>
There is a special tone to all Shostakovich’s last works, in comparison to what went before. In addition to his magnificent mastery, amazing depth and clarity of vision there was now added what I should call a celestial essence of being. Shostakovich has no or virtually no unfinished works - indicative of the scale and class of a true master. He used to say to us -- his students and post-graduates - that music should only be written straight on to paper, only in ink and without a piano. We used to ask - ‘And what if we make mistakes?’ He would say: ‘Think before you write the notes down’”.
Symphony No. 15
In the spring of 1971, Shostakovich began work on his next (and, as it turned out, last) symphony. He intended for ‘this opus to be a gift to myself for my sixty-fifth birthday. …When I began the score, I even told [Boris] Tishchenko: ‘I want to compose a cheerful symphony’.’1 The first movement was composed in June of the same year in Kurgan, where Shostakovich was undergoing treatment at the clinic of famous physician Gavriil Ilizarov. Work on the symphony continued in July in Repino, at the Guest House for Composers; the score was finished on 29 July.
The premiere of the Fifteenth Symphony was performed on 8 January 1972 in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory by the All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maxim Shostakovich. Subsequent performances were given on 24 March 1972 in the same place by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Svetlanov; and on 5 May 1972 in Leningrad, in the Grand Hall of the Philharmonic, by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky. The first performance outside Moscow and Leningrad was held on 5 June 1972 in Sverdlovsk, conducted by Nariman Chunikhin. During 1972, the symphony was performed for the first time in several other cities of the Soviet Union, including Riga (Kirill Kondrashin), Saratov (Gennady Provatorov), Odessa (Roman Matsov), Petrozavodsk (Fyodor Glushchenko), Minsk (Yury Efi- mov) and Baku, as well as in the GDR (East Berlin, the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Yevgeny Svetlanov), Great Britain (London, New Philharmonia, Maxim Shostakovich), the US (Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy), Czechoslovakia, Japan, and other countries.
During the composer’s life, gramophone records came out of performances of the symphony conducted by Maxim Shostakovich (1972, studio), Yevgeny Mravinsky (1972, live), Eugene Ormandy (1972), Kirill Kondrashin (1974), and others.
In August 1972 Viktor Derevyanko, with the assistance of Mark Pekarsky, arranged the Fifteenth Symphony for violin, cello, piano (also celesta) and percussion (3 or 4 performers, 13 instruments). This arrangement was authorised by the composer and received the opus number 141a. Its first performance was held on 30 October 1972 at the All-Union House of Composers (VDK) in Moscow with Valeriya Vilker, Mark Drobinsky, Viktor Derevyanko, Alla Mamyko, Valentin Snegirev, and B. Stepanov.
- All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, Maksim Shostakovich. 1972 // Melodiya CM 03245-6, 1972
- Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy. 1972 // RCA Red Seal ARD1 0014, 1973
- Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Yevgeni Mravinsky. 1972 // Victor VIC 28053, 1981
- Staatskapelle Dresden, Kyrill Kondrashin. 1974 // Profil Edition Gunter Hanssler PH0 6065, 2007
- Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin. 1974 // Melodiya C10 05453-4, 1975
- London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink. 1978 // Decca SXL 6906, 1979
- Berlin City Symphony Orchestra, Kurt Sanderling. 1978 // Eterna 8 27 192
- USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. 1983 // Melodiya A10 0055 000, 1984
- Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi. 1988 // Deutsche Grammophon 427 616-2CH , 1989
- London Symphony Orchestra, Mstislav Rostropovich. 1989 // Teldec 9031 74560-2, 1991
- London Symphony Orchestra, M. Shostakovich. 1990 // Collins Classics 1206-2, 1991
- Cleveland Orchestra, Kurt Sanderling. 1991 // Erato 2292 45815-2, 1993
- Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky. 1996 // Chandos CHAN 9550, 1997
- Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Fedoseyev. 1996 // Canyon Classics PCCL 00351
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti. 1997 // Decca 458 919-2DH, 1998
- London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariss Jansons. 1997 // EMI Classics CDC5 56591-2, 1998
- Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Kurt Sanderling. 1999 // Berlin Philharmoniker BPH 0611, 2007
- Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra. Alexander Sladkovsky. 2017 // Melodiya. MEL CD 1002470, 2017 (13 CDs)