Works Instrumental Concertos

Violin Concerto No. 1

Opus 74 Opus 79

Opus 77
1947-1948 year

Violin Concerto No 1. Op. 77. Score.
Violin Concerto No 1. Op. 77. Piano score.
premiere:

29-October-1955

Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Conductor: Y. Mravinsky. Soloist: D. Oistrakh. Premiere abroad: December 1955. New York. Carnegie Hall. Orchestra of New York Philharmonia. Conductor D. Mitropoulos. Soloist D. Oistrakh.

first publication:

1956, Score, "Muzgiz" Publishers, Moscow.

manuscripts:

The hand-written score is in the RNMM (Stack 32, Item 43). The piano score is in the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art.


Dedication: "To David Fyodorovich Oistrakh"
Duration: 36’.
Premiere: October 29, 1955 in the Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia. Conductor: Y. Mravinsky. Soloist: D. Oistrakh.
Premiere abroad: December 1955. New York. Carnegie Hall. Orchestra of New York Philharmonia. Conductor D. Mitropoulos. Soloist D. Oistrakh.
First Edition: Score, "Muzgiz" Publishers, Moscow, 1956.

"We listened to Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto in his flat with the composer playing it on the piano. Shostakovich was playing from the score with virtuosity, which impressed us for its own sake (it is still a mystery for me how he managed to bring out the full texture of the Scherzo without missing out a single note of the violin part)..."

"A concerto always presents the performer with a particularly interesting task.This is, if you like, a significant, rich and 'Shakespearean' role,  demanding total emotional and
intellectual commitment from the performer..."


Violin Concerto No. 1
Op. 77

     Violin Concerto No. 1 was written in 1947-1948. Manashir Iakubov describes in detail how the Concerto was composed in Vol. 42 of New Collected Works.
     On 29 October 1995, the premiere of the Concerto was held in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic performed by D.F. Oistrakh and the Symphonic Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonic under the baton of Yevgeny Mravinsky. The next day, 30 October, a repeat performance of the Concerto was given in the same hall by the same performers. Shostakovich was present both times, although he did not arrive until the second half10 when his work was being performed (Brahms’ Fourth Symphony was performed in the first half).
     The first performances of the Concerto in Moscow were held later—on 4 and 5 February 1956 in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory. This time, the Concerto was performed by Oistrakh in the accompaniment of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Yevgeny Mravinsky.
     The first premiere of the Concerto abroad was held on 29 December 1955 in New York (Carnegie Hall) performed by David Oistrakh and the Symphony Orchestra of the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Dimitris Mitropoulos. Several days later, on 2 January 1956, the first gramophone recording of the Violin Concerto was made with the same performers as in the American premiere. The day after the premiere, on 30 December, the foreign press wrote: ‘The audience responded with tumultuous applause, with the men of the orchestra joining in. Six times the violinist was recalled… In the final one Mr. Mitropoulos lifted the score from the stand and held it up before the audience so the work itself could be applauded.’ In addition to the unusual structure of the Concerto (four movements instead of the traditional three) and its ‘unsymphonic’ nature, ross Parmenter, the author of the review, also noted how detached the violin sounded against the background of the oppressive, cold, and muffled sound of the orchestra. According to the critic, it was impossible not to sense a feeling of war in the Concerto: ‘This was not so evident in the opening Nocturne, which suggested a long mournful solo… But the war feeling came out in the ensuing Scherzo, which echoed some of the same sort of mordant wit of ‘L’Histoire du soldat’, the work that Stravinsky wrote after the close of the earlier World War… Oistrakh developed the plaintive melody in the cadenza [so that] it seemed to become a threnody… That the concerto communicated describable things so vividly was in large part the result of Oistrakh’s
intense absorption in thework’s inner meaning. He played it so personally that despite its pyrotechnics it did notsound like a display piece.” Similar reviews also ap- peared after the premiere of the Concerto at the London Festival Hall held on 23 February 1956 performed by David Oistrakh and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Nikolai Malko. The Times reported that the audience was in such rapture over the Concerto that the finale was played again; it also remarked on Oistrakh’s brilliant performance.
     Among the first performers of the Concerto were Yehudi Menuhin and Leonid kogan; later it was performed by Oistrakh’s son, Igor Oistrakh. But, according to Shostakovich himself, only David Oistrakh was able to fully capture the work’s inner meaning, which the composer told the violinist about many years later: ‘It turns out, you understand, that I wrote the Concerto for just one violinist, you. Yes, yes, it is a Concerto for only one performer, others do not understand it all.’ Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 was one of the favourite works in Oistrakh’s repertoire. And it remains such to this day for many other outstanding contemporary violinists.
     The author’s manuscript of the piano score of Violin Concerto No. 1 is kept at RSALA.
     The full piano score of the Concerto is the author’s manuscript written by Shostakovich on 73 sheets of music paper with 12 staffs without a trademark. There is no date on the piano score, but in all likelihood it was written at the same time as the score of the Concerto, since it contains the entire, completely notated piano part (in contrast to all the previous sketches).
     It is obvious that Shostakovich himself used this score to play the work (possibly even with someone’s assistance), since some pages have notes in red pencil done by the author: “Attention! It’s soontime to enter”. These notes refer to fragments in the piano part (marked by two crosses in the same red pencil) which were written not on two, but on three-four staffs (like a four-hand piano score). It is possible that Shostakovich used this score to perform the Concerto for his first listeners, for example, the students in his conservatory class.
     The first edition of the piano score was published in 1956 by Muzgiz Publishers. The second, third,and fourth editions of the piano score were published by Muzyka Publishers in 1957, 1964, and 1969, respectively.
     In all the listed editions, the Concerto was designated as Opus 99. Shostakovich first gave the opus this number since, in his opinion, the Concerto was not finished until 1955. The subsequent editions of the piano score were published as Opus 77.
     The fifth edition of the piano score was published in 1975 by Muzyka Publishers.
     The sixth edition of the piano score was published as part of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Collected Works by Muzyka Publishers in 1981. It appears in Volume 15 along with the piano score of Violin Concerto No. 2. According to the editor of the volume, A. Nikolayev, this publication was based on the edition that the author looked through. During its preparation, Shostakovich’s proofreading notes and the comments he made after the author’s arrangement of the Concerto was published were also taken into account. The music text was collated with the author’s manuscripts.


recordings:

  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloist: Belkin B. Conductor: Ashkenazi V.D. 1988 // DECCA 425793-2 D H, 1990
  • Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloist: Oistrakh D.F. Conductor: Mravinsky E.A. 1957 // PRAGA PRODUCTION PR 250 052, 1994
  • Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad State Philharmonic. Soloist: Oistrakh D.F. Conductor: Mravinsky E.A. 1956 // CHANT DU MONDE 278 882,
  • Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Rozhdestvensky G.N. 1962 // BBC RADIO CLASSICS 15656 91702, 1996
  • Symphony Orchestra of the Polish National Radio. Soloist: Kaler I. Conductor: Vit A. 1996 // NAXOS 8.550814, 1997
  • New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloist: Oistrakh D.F. Conductor: Mitropoulos D. 1956 // SONY CLASSICAL MHK 63327, 1998
  • Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Soloist: Erksleben M. Conductor: Flor K. 1990 // BERLIN CLASSICS BC 1049-2, 1993
  • Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloist: Perlman I. Conductor: Meta Z. 1988 // EMI CDC 7 49814 2, 1989
  • London Symphony Orchestra. Soloist: Vengerov M. Conductor: Rostropovich M.L. 1994 // TELDEC 4509-92256-2, 1994
  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloist: Mullova V. Conductor: Preven A. 1988 // PHILIPS 422 364-2, 1989
  • Air Force Symphony Orchestra. Soloist: Sitkovetsky D. Conductor: Davis E. 1989 // VC 7596012, 1990
  • Air Force Symphony Orchestra. Soloist: Sitkovetsky D. Conductor: Davis E. 1989 // VC 7596012, 1990

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