Sonata for Viola and Piano
October 1, 1975. Glinka Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia.
1975, Musikverlag Hans Sikorski, Hamburg; Schirmer Inc., New York; 1977, “Muzyka” Publishers (Moscow). Viola score edited by F. Druzhinin.
In the archive of the composer’s family.
Dedication: “To Fyodor Serafimovich Druzhinin”
Sonata for Viola and Piano
The manuscript of the Viola Sonata, Shostakovich’s last composition, was finished on 5 July 1975 and dedicated to Fedor Druzhinin.
The first performance of the Sonata, for friends and colleagues, was not held until after Shostakovich’s death (on 9 August 1975) at his apartment, on his birthday—25 September 1975. Fedor Druzhinin played the viola part and Mikhail Muntian the piano.
The official premiere was performed by the same musicians on 1 October 1975 in the Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic and on 4 October in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The first recording of the Sonata, done by Druzhinin and Muntian, was issued two years later. Since then it has been reissued many times.
The first edition of the Viola Sonata appeared in a collotype version in 1975 (Muzfond, Moscow). In 1977, the composition was published by Moscow’s Muzyka Publishers (supplemented with the cello part edited by Daniil Shafran). Later, foreign publishers Sikorski, Boosey & Hawkes, Le Chant du Monde, Schott Music and others put out this composition. Sikorski’s publication of the facsimile was a significant event.
As early as the second half of the 1970s, recordings by foreign instrumentalists appeared, but Yuri Bashmet and Svyatoslav Richter’s performance of the Sonata became an especially important event in its history. After playing it in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory during a cultural programme for the 1980 Olympic Games on 2 August 1980, the musicians performed the Sonata 30 times during the 1980s.
At least two recordings of the Sonata have appeared every year since the 1990s. So the number of documented interpretations reaches almost sixty licensed discs alone, not counting amateur audio and video recordings.
In 1981, film directors Semen Aranovich and Aleksandr Sokurov made a documentary film called The Viola Sonata about Shostakovich’s life and work. In it, his last composition, the name of which became the title of the film, acts as a refrain and symbol of the composer’s entire oeuvre. The film was put on the shelf. Its Russian premiere was not held until 1987, when it became a significant event in Russian culture.
- Bashmet Yu.A., Richter S.T. 1982 // Gramzapis' GCD 00095, 1995
- Kholodenko A., Milshtein S. 1993 // REM 311210, 1993
- Arrangement for cello by D. Shafran. Bekova E., Bekova A. 1996 // CHANDOS CHAN 9526 (2), 1997
- Mints Sh., Postnikova V.V. 1991 // ERATO 2292-45804-2, 1992