Suite from the Opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District”
New Collected Works, vol. 69. Moscow, DSCH, 2002
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive, rec. gr. 10, section 1, f. 26
Suite from the Opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
Throughouthis entire creative life, Shostakovich compiled suites (or authorised those compiled with other musicians) based on the music he wrote for films, plays, and operas and ballets, ranging from the opera The Nose, Op. 15 (1928), to his last film music at the end of the 1960s.
At the turn of the 1920s and 1930s, Shostakovich emphasised more than once the immense significance of the symphonic origin of his opera and theatre compositions.
In article published in a pamphlet for the Moscow premiere in 1934, the composer drew particular attention to the orchestral interludes: “The music flows without interruption,” he wrote, “stopping only at the end of each act and picking up again in the next, moving not in dribs and drabs, but building in the great symphonic sense. … Musical interludes … are nothing more than the continuation and development of the previous musical thought and play an enormous role in portraying the events occurring on the stage....In this respect, the tremendous role of the orchestra increases, it does not accompany, but plays a part that is just as important and, perhaps, more important than the soloists and choir.”
At the end of 1932, probably after the opera score was finished (it was completed on 17 December), Shostakovich compiled the symphonic Suite (written in ternary form) from the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. The manuscript copy of the suite was kept in the Library of the USSR Music Foundation.
The suite of 1932 comprises three interludes, the Interlude between scenes two and three, the Interlude between scenes seven and eight, and the Interlude between scenes six and seven (thus the last two interludes of the opera were transposed). The movements of the Suite are not named this way. It is clear from the state of the manuscript that it was used many times, but we do not have any specific information on the performance of the Suite. It is obvious that the dramatic fate of the opera as a whole had an effect on destiny of the suite. The opera first made a triumphal tour of the whole world and was then banned and removed from musical life for quarter of a century.
The symphonic suite from the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District does not have an opus number in the manuscript. When preparing it for publication we, like the author’s numbering of the suite from the opera The Nose, Op. 15(a), marked it number 29(a).
Later, various musicians made attempts on several occasions to compile a suite based on the opera, but, apparently, not one of these works was authorised.
- Symphony Orchestra of the Dresden Philharmonic. Conductor K. Garaguli. 1964 // BC BERLIN CLASSICS 0031702 BC, 1996
- Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Sanderling (conductor). 2005 // Deutsche Grammophon 477 6112GH, 2006
- Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Moscow State Philharmonic. Conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky. 1962 // BBC RADIO CLASSICS 15656 91832, 1996
- Bohuslav Martinu Zlinsky Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor E. Steinberg. 1994 // DEUTSCHE SCHALLPLATTEN DS 1035-2, 1994