Works Chamber Compositions for Voice and Songs

Four Romances on Poems by Alexander Pushkin

Opus 43 Opus 47

Opus 46
1936-1937 year

Shostakovich's Vocal Cycles of the 1920s-1930s.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Vocal Compositions.


Moscow. Politechnic Muzeum Hall. Bass - Aleksandr Baturin, piano - Dmitri Shostakovich.

first publication:

1943, Moscow, Music Fund of the USSR


Glinka State Central Museum for Musical Culture (Stack 32, Item 89 и 94)

Four Romances on Poems by Alexander Pushkin
For Bass and Piano
Op. 46

     Dmitri Shostakovich was interested in Pushkin’s poetry throughout all his life.
     The appearance in 1937 of the cycle Four Romances on Poems by Alexander Pushkin, Op. 46, was undoubtedly related to the one hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death.
     Shostakovich initially thought he would write a cycle of twelve romances, which he later reported in an essay called My Upcoming Works in 1937. However, after composing four romances, the composer returned no more to the cycle Op. 46. The work began in the summer of 1936, when a fragment of the romance on Pushkin’s poem Devils was written (the first four stanzas), which was not included in the final version of the cycle. The sketch that has survived has the following date: “‘VIII 1936’. Then, almost six months later, on 2 January 1937, Shostakovich wrote the first romance of the cycle, ‘Rebirth’—this date is written in the author’s hand in the rough manuscript after the double bar-line at the end (‘2 I 1937’). Then on another sheet of music paper, Shostakovich notated the last two romances—‘Presentiment’ and ‘Stanzas’; the date is not given in the manuscripts.
     The romances were first performed at Shostakovich’s recitals on 8 and 9 December 1940 in the Grand Auditorium of the Moscow Polytechnic Museum. Bass-baritone Alexander Baturin was accompanied by the author.
     After the premiere concerts of 1940, the Pushkin cycle was rarely performed on the stage; mainly only separate romances were heard. In 1948, Four Romances on Poems by Alexander Pushkin was subjected to severe criticism during the anti-formalist campaign.
     Another orchestral version of the cycle Op. 46 was done in 1982 by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky for a string orchestra (the romance ‘Stanzas’ was arranged later by Gerard McBurney for bass clarinet, harp and string quintet). Rozhdestvensky’s version was recorded in 1983 and put out on a gramophone record in 1984 with Anatoli Safiulin as soloist and the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra.
     The romances were first published by Muzfond in 1943 in Levon Atovmyan’s edition, then reissued in 1945. In 1967, the first foreign edition of the romances appeared with Russian and German texts (Edition Peters).
     There are only a few recordings of the cycle Op. 46 done during the composer’s lifetime. Among them are two Russian (Askold Besedin and Lyubov Yedlina  and Sergei Yakovenko and Maria Grinberg) and one foreign (Jaromír Vavruška and Jiří Pokorný). A large number of records and discs of romances on Pushkin’s poems were issued in the 1990s-2000s.