Suite for Two Pianos
Collected Works, Vol. 13. Muzyka, 1983.
The Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts. Rec. gr. 2048, Op. 1, f. 35; Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive, rec. gr. 1, section 1, f. 43, 163; the Glinka All-Russia Museum Association of Musical Culture (VMOMK), rec. gr. 32, f. 77.
Dedication: "To the memory of Dmitri Boleslavovich Shostakovich"
First performance: March 20, 1925. Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. The author and L. Oborin.
Suite for Two Pianos
1. Prelude in f sharp minor-Andantino
2. Fantastic dance in a minor-Allegro vivo
3. Nocturne in d major-Andante
4. Finale in f sharp minor-Adagio-Allegro molto
The Suite for two pianos, Op. 6, was written in 19226 and dedicated “in loving memory” of the composer’s father, Dmitri Boleslavovich Shostakovich, who died on 24 February 1922.
The Suite is a grand-scale composition—the largest of all the works Shostakovich composed before the First Symphony, Op. 10 (1924-1925). It consists of four movements.
On 15 January 1923, the Suite was performed by the author and his sister Mariya Shostakovich at the Russian Institute of Art History during one of the “Monday concerts” of the Music History Section organised by the St. Petersburg Circle of Composers. The Suite was also performed at one of the “Monday concerts” later the same year in the flat of music lover Anna Ivanovna Fogt (“on the corner of Raz’ezzhaya and Yamskaya streets”). Yelena Trusova recalled: “The listeners were astounded and asked for somefragments to be repeated several times. They drew Mitya out of his refuge: he loved to hide away with Bogdanov-Berezovsky in an armchair nestled in a cosy alcove of the room.”
In February 1923, at the insistence of Maximilian Steinberg, his conservatory professor for composition theory, Shostakovich did a new version of the Suite. A few years later, the composer would recall that Professor Steinberg “was somewhat critical about it and demanded it be reworked. I didn’t comply. Then he insisted on its revision again.” Following Steinberg’s instructions, Shostakovich revised the Suite. The premiere of the revised Suite was held on 23 April 1923 at a student concert of the Leningrad State Conservatory. After the concert, Shostakovich “destroyed the revised copy” and returned to the work’s original version. In his words, “it was one of many attempts to ‘revolt’ against the tyranny of ‘rules’”.
The composer performed the Suite for two pianos in a duet with his sister twice in 1923, 22 and 30 June, in Petrograd, for The Circle of Friends of Chamber Music.
The Moscow premiere of the Suite for two pianos, Op. 6, was held on 20 March 1925 in the Small Hall of the Conservatory at a soirée with works by Vissarion Shebalin and Dmitri Shostakovich. This was Shostakovich’s Moscow debut as a composer. The Suite, performed by Shostakovich and Oborin, was heard at the end of the programme.
After the Moscow performance of the Suite, the author removed it entirely from his concert repertoire. Shostakovich explained why he refused to perform the Suite and had decided to leave it in manuscript form in a short review of his oeuvre in 1927. He described this composition as “entirely unsuccessful”.
Viktoria POSTNIKOVA — Nikolai PETROV. 1982 // Melodiya C10 18471-2; 1983.